Game 41: Florida Gators @ Missouri Tigers
November 4, 2017
Florida Gators: 3-4
We arrive at LaGuardia at our secret little parking spot and hop onto the shuttle bus for the 2 mile, 3 hour drive through the aftermath of a nuclear bomb known as the LaGuardia Re-Development Program. I have no idea why I continue to book flights out of LGA, but I do. Al opines, “drugs, Jarrett, drugs.” On our crowded bus, was a chatty little Air Canada (I think) flight crew that may have been up all night given the giddiness going on. One of the flight attendants joked about having to sit on the captain’s lap given the crowd on the bus, but she would have to choose which one wisely. That is going to end badly and it is going to be one of those kind of days.
We board the small regional jet for the flight to St. Louis. Al notes that all the people on this flight look the same. I am not sure what that means but it was hard to dispute. We find ourselves in the second to last row with the overwhelming stench that I liken to getting onto the Long Island Rail Road, something I do 10 times a week. You never get used to that smell, it never gets old, and it never gets better. You might want to work on that @LIRR.
After we appear to be all boarded, I proceed to attempt to ask the flight attendant if all are on board so I can jump to the empty row behind us. She chastises me for interrupting her while she is counting. Ok, let us analyze what has happened here. I am in the second to last row. There is no one in the last row, so I am in the last row for counting purposes. She is starting from the back. So even if she started on the other side and then with Al at the window, she is at 4 at worst and 0 at best. And I was considerate and said excuse me. Well, if Southwest has taught us anything, it is that the count is VERY important, so I said nothing further and just moved to the last row. Airlines please take note; hire people who can count. When time came to take off, the flight attendant took her seat in the jumpseat that abuts the last row and was surprised I was there as “they try to keep that row empty”. I was going to tell her that we covered this, but did not want to confuse her further. It is a good thing that being a flight attendant does not require multitasking, no sarcasm there.
We arrive at the St.Louis airport and meet up with my Uncle Vinny who is joining us on this trip. You may remember him from the Baylor trip last year, and Jesus Christ if you don’t, your nose will (just a bit of bathroom humor). I hope this becomes an annual occurrence as we are now at two years in a row for Vinny. Either he likes these trips or has a thing for Ross. Time will tell.
We hop the shuttle bus to the Hertz rental car counter and proceed to the Gold desk. I am told that our reservation is for another location about 30 minutes away. Umm ok. How do I get that moved to here? I am then sent to the regular desk in another building. There, I am told they can either give me the walk up rate or I can call central reservations and attempt to have the reservation moved. Why this could not be done at the counter, I do not know. I call and move the reservation, having to pay slightly more than I had originally booked. They send me back to the gold counter in the first building. Finally we get to choose our car about 30 minutes after first arriving.
Now I admit I messed up the reservation. I do not know how I did this and I accept full responsibility for that, as it was bound to happen at some point after nine years of Quest trips. But Hertz could have made this much easier to resolve. Why was I sent to multiple buildings? Why couldn’t local staff handle this without me having to call a central number? And why did this take so long to resolve? I do not know, but I am thankful they did not gouge me on the price, given that I was highly captive. But it was not the most customer oriented service by the local staff, the phone rep was great.
Finally, we are off to Columbia, a very straight and very boring drive. Our room was not ready so we headed off to campus to meet up with Ross.
You will remember that we first met Ross last year at Baylor. He took a job at Missouri and invited us down for this game knowing I was a Gator fan. This breaks a long running rule that I would not do a Gator road game on The Quest as I wanted to truly enjoy the visit as a neutral fan. But Ross assured me that he knew I would be rooting for the Gators, so I reluctantly gave in.
We headed to Booches for lunch. This is a spot that had come up on my pre trip research as having great hamburgers. This was certainly a no frills place with the most friendly staff you will ever see. I jest because our waitress is clearly not a happy customer service employee. Al could not get her to smile and gave up after one attempt declaring it a useless exercise. This is the kind of place that says, “we have great burgers and you can come here despite our service, attitude, and decor. Or don’t. We don’t care.” But it was a good burger and very good chili. Not the best I have had or close to it, but good.
After Booches as a test case, I ran the rest of my trip research by Ross and it was confirmed that I do good research as he agreed with all notes with the exception that one of the food spots, a pizza place, we would not like. It was ok for midwest pizza, but as NYers, we should skip it. Admittedly, this was a very big boy mature comment by Ross, who has flown pizza in to Missouri and Baylor with friends on occasion from NYC. Bonus points for Ross.
University of Missouri
We headed back to the University of Missouri for a Ross led tour. No self guided tour for us today.
First stop was The Columns. I vaguely remember this from the pre trip research, so maybe I am not as good as I thought as this was a famous Missouri landmark. Next stop was Mizzou Arena, home of Tiger basketball. Love the block M in the end zone seats. We thoroughly exhausted seeing every aspect of this building including the locker room. Ross and the Mizzou faithful have very high hopes for this season on the arrival of Michael Porter, Jr. His path to Mizzou was very interesting and it was a great story that Ross had told over lunch. Let’s see how they do. As of this writing, the Tigers are off to a 2-1 start. Update: Sorry to say that Michael Porter, Jr. sustained a season ending back injury a few games into the season.
The next stop was Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, the football stadium. Again, we explored every inch; field, press box, luxury suites, and so on. I have to say that I absolutely love the rock M in the endzone. It is awesome!
Then onto the tennis facility. I had to take a bunch of pics and send to my son. He is very into tennis now and I figured he would get a kick out of me next to the Gator head on the Missouri tennis courts. He did. We saw a Tiger hitting with a potential recruit, who would follow us around all weekend, or at least we saw it that way as we saw her again at the football game and then again at the St. Louis airport going home. The bets are in on where she is from. I maintain that she is French. Al and Vinny disagree but I forget what they bet on since it will not matter since we will never know. Thusly, she is French.
We head back to Ross’s office to pick up our stuff for the next day and head off to the hotel to check in. But prior to that, there is a lengthy discussion on “chalk outlines”. If we had known we would be part of this process, we’d have brought chalk Ross! But alas, we did our part in the chalk-talk with one of Ross’s associates, and moved on after our job was done.
Time comes to head back to campus for women’s volleyball. We stop by to check out the chalk outlines that Ross was responsible for, although he will dispute that. Our idea of chalk outlines coming from NY differs from that of the midwest, but you can see those differences in the photo album or if I put that photo next to this paragraph when I post this. Al really hopes that picture is here because it was one of the top “Likes” on facebook during the trip!
We head inside and proceed to watch the Missouri Tigers defeat Texas A&M 3-0. As a side note, apropos of nothing, Missouri does not have beach volleyball as a varsity sport…yet. Let me just make the observation that women’s volleyball is a sport that should market itself. I really do not think more needs to be said and whatever more I would say only serve to get (some of) us into trouble. So onto dinner.
Dinner was at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, another spot identified in pre trip research and confirmed by Ross who joined us. I can very highly recommend this place. The beer was really good and the food was amazing. We had a bunch of apps and I had the brown sugar pork chop. A pork chop is not something I typically order out, but knew I was onto something when the waitress said unsolicited, good choice after I ordered. It was really excellent. Through a foul up in the kitchen, our mains came out before the apps, so the apps were on the house. Unnecessary, but appreciated and speaks to the level of customer service you find in a place that CARES ABOUT CUSTOMER SERVICE. I could not recommend this place more strongly if you find yourself in Columbia, Missouri.
After dinner, it was back to the hotel for a bit of sleep. The days of nights out drinking after being up early and traveling certainly seem to be behind us, if they were ever not behind us since we started this quest. Have it beknownst to all that the walls in this hotel within the room suite were very thin. Some of the noises and sounds coming from beyond the wall of the living room that Al was sleeping in, which was believed to be up against the bathroom, sounded like someone was on death’s doorstep and I highly recommended getting the pipes flushed…..in all aspects of the “pipes”.
There is not time to do much of anything before an 11am game. So it was an early wake up, a pit stop at McDonald’s for a gourmet breakfast and off to Memorial Stadium.
We parked alongside the highway and headed to the “Ross” Presents: The Mizzou Fanfest pregame festivities. The Mizzou fanfest included:
After taking in the festivities, we head inside and down to the field. I had to get to work. I needed to do some scouting to make my game pick. Normally, this would be an automatic Missouri pick as by rule I always pick against the Gators as a superstitious thing. But I was getting a feeling that Florida would show up for this game after getting completely annihilated the previous week against Georgia. Plus, the Gators were making a QB change and going with Malik Zaire, who I thought should have been the starter all season. So I needed to pay careful attention to pregame warmups to get an edge over Al. I know he’s picking Florida. I saw enough and had high enough hopes for a new offense led by Zaire to talk myself into the Florida pick. This caused quite a bit of anguish and in retrospect, I have no idea what I was thinking, but I will get to that. I was really hoping for a brand new offense that would not have handcuffs.
I am not going to say too much about the game. I did not get the new Florida offense I was hoping for with Randy Shannon replacing Coach Mac. Instead it was the same old bag of shitty plays from Doug Nussmeier. In the first ten minutes of the game, Florida ran three plays. That is not good. Florida is not good. Florida trailed 28-6 at the half. When was the last time you saw a team use all three second half timeouts in the 3Q. I know, I know, it was Florida versus Missouri on Nov. 4, 2017. That is not good either. Final score: Missouri 45 Florida 16. The season for Florida has simply come down to ensuring that you score each week to keep intact the NCAA record streak of not being shut out. End of story.
Other game notes:
Hooters (not the 80’s band)
The upside, if there is one, to an 11am kickoff is that you have the entire rest of the day to watch college football. So we headed off to Hooters (not the 80’s band concert) for a lengthy stay. We got a very nice and pleasant waitress named Erin, who proceeded to make Vinny feel wonderful by carding him. I think the rule should be that if you have an AARP card you are exempt, but it was a nice gesture on Erin’s part, which made up for the fact that Hooters (not the 80’s band) does not carry Dewey’s, just Dewer’s. And just in case you were wondering, Erin has been to NYC with her choir and her boyfriend lives in Chicago. His name is Ferris. (crickets)
Much came up during our retirement at Hooters (not the 80’s band), only some of which is fit for publication, but this is one of them. Apparently grandparents can do and get away with anything, because I do not know about in Missouri, but I know in NY it is not standard to have an eight year old girl’s birthday party at Hooters. The wings are good, but I am not sure about this decision. But I guess you get away with anything as a grandparent. I will just say two other things about the afternoon at Hooters (not the concert); we had the best seats in the house and Vinny has problems if Loren and Al ever meet. I think more than anything I have ever written in the past, Beth is most scared by that last sentence.
Post Hooters (not the 80’s band)
In quite a disgusting move, after leaving Hooters (not the concert), we stopped at White Castle. I still do not understand this decision. If it was In and Out Burger, I would get it as we do not have that in NY. We have White Castle. So this was totally unnecessary and completely gluttonous. We need help.
Sunday morning came and we started the day off with a fabulous drive through the Jimmy John’s drive thru across from the hotel. Relax, it was closed and we were not there to eat anything. If I am ever at a Jimmy John’s to eat anything, my mind has gone and you can pull the plug. We were there to get some pics for Zack, as he for some reason will eat there. I will never understand this new generation and its lunacy.
We did the boring drive back to the St. Louis airport and dropped off the car at Hertz. Al finally gets to see a crossbow on the shuttle bus to the terminal. I will leave that sentence to stand on its own with no further comment. I will also note that the answer to the trivia question of where was the second CFQ car magnet is stolen is Columbia, Missouri. We do not know when this happened and in looking back at the photos, it must have been Friday or very early Saturday and we never noticed until we returned the car. Not cool Mizzou, not cool.
Photos – An aside
It has always been a task to accumulate all the pictures after a Quest trip. So this trip we attempted to airdrop the photos on the way home. The problem we discovered is that when Al airdrops the photos to me, they end up in my camera roll in date order. Which is a good thing, except when I go to airdrop my photos to Al, I can not tell which are mine and which came from him. This is a problem. I think I have a workaround for next time, but this should be an easier process. And don’t tell me to create an album or a share, because then I don’t get the full size and full resolution pics. But I am open to new suggestions on how to make this work. Al feels I am sharing too much here, and with the millions of readers who follow us, and notice us on planes, they may try to access our AirDrop and steal our secret server photos, and thus eliminate us from running for President in the next election. Beth agrees with Al that I share too much. But she forgets that my audience is my 70 year old self.
It was an up and down season for Missouri. After starting 1-5, the Tigers won six in a row, including this game, to finish at 7-5, 4-4 in SEC play. This earned a Texas Bowl appearance against Texas, losing 33-16.
The Gators finished 4-7, missing out on a bowl game.
For our Missouri photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.
|Video: Jarrett thinking the Gators have a chance (about 12 sec.)
||Video: Missouri Pregame mash up & Mizzou taking the field (about 1m 20s)