With a raucous crowd of about 18,000 fans on hand Saturday at Francis Quadrangle, MU broke the record for the largest attendance ever at a “College GameDay” broadcast. The University of Nebraska set the previous mark of 15,800 in 2001 when the ESPN program visited Lincoln.
A quiet, grassy oasis just days before, MU fans created a party-like atmosphere on the Quad. Filling an entire half of the Quad to the brim, the crowd was spirited all morning long. Members of the GameDay crew, who travel to a different college campus every weekend during college football season, said they were impressed with MU’s showing.
“(MU) set the bar real high,” GameDay analyst Desmond Howard said. “It was a great crowd, great atmosphere. Exactly what we look for when we go on the road.”
Howard said the best part of the atmosphere was the crowd’s energy.
“It’s something you really can’t see on TV, but it’s something we feel up there that allows us to have fun and enjoy ourselves,” Howard said. “It’s the best job in the world, because we feed off the crowd.”
With a plethora of cameras, both aerial and grounded, ESPN captured what was a picturesque scene. The huge mass of fans, forming a sea of black and gold, stood in the foreground, stretching from the GameDay stage back to the Columns. The Columns and Jesse Hall provided a scenic atmosphere GameDay analyst Chris Fowler said he adored.
“We’d like to take that scene behind us and move it around everywhere we go,” Fowler said.
Also adding to the fanatical atmosphere were signs, banners and flags. Diverse in color, size and shape, the signage let members of the crowd show the nation their creativity. Also varied were the posters’ sentiments. MU wide receiver T.J. Moe was a popular subject of poster banter, with slogans like “Lead us T.J. MOEses,” and “We Found Our Moe-Joe,” leading the charge.
Signs weren’t the only way that fans showed their spirit. MU freshman Timothy Tumminia showed up for GameDay at 1:30 a.m., sporting black and gold suspenders, knee-high socks and a MU flag as a cape.
Tumminia said his initial reaction to GameDay wasn’t quite suitable for print, but he was excited to be a part of the ESPN experience.
“We wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Tumminia said. “The atmosphere has been really awesome.”
Howard echoed the sentiment and said he hopes he and the GameDay crew can make a return trip to Columbia.
“I hope (the Tigers) keep winning so we can come back again,” Howard said. “I mean that sincerely. We are impressed with this crowd, very impressed.”