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NCAA Football Team History – Missouri Tigers – History

Mascot & Football Traditions

The nickname “Tigers,” given to Mizzou’s athletic teams, traces its origin to the Civil War period. At that time, plundering guerilla bands habitually raided small towns, and Columbia people constantly feared an attack. Such organizations as temporary “home guards” and vigilance companies banded together to fight off any possible forays.

The town’s preparedness discouraged any guerilla activity and the protecting organization began to disband in 1854. However, it was rumored that a guerilla band, led by the notorious Bill Anderson, intended to sack the town. Quickly organized was an armed guard of Columbia citizens, who built a blockhouse and fortified the old courthouse in the center of town. This company was called “The Missouri Tigers.”

The marauders never came. The reputation of the intrepid “Tigers” presumably traveled abroad, and Anderson’s gang detoured around Columbia.

Soon after Missouri’s first football team was organized in 1890, the athletic committee adopted the nickname “Tiger” in official recognition of those Civil War defenders.

Their spirit is now embodied in the MU mascot – “Truman the Tiger.” Named for the Missouri-bred President of the United State – Harry S. Truman – the mascot performs at all MU football and basketball games, and many other athletic events. Truman also makes numerous civic appearances, at schools, hospitals, county fairs, etc.

Twice in the last eight years, Truman was acclaimed “Best Mascot in the Nation” in national competition.

Tiger Trophy Games

MU is one of 39 schools that has won more than 500 games. The 500th victory came in the final game of MU’s 100th football season in 1990, against Kansas.
Missouri has had 23 all-Americans. The first was Ed Lindenmeyer, a tackle, in 1925, and most recent was John Clay, also a tackle, in 1986. And, Missouri has 11 members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Johnny Roland is being inducted this year.

Missouri has been to 20 bowl games – only 26 schools have been to more. Missouri has won eight bowl games, a figure eclipsed by only 29 schools.
In the 1960s, when Dan Devine was Missouri’s coach, MU was the only school that never lost more than three games in a single season, and had the first number-one ranking in school history – in 1960.


Issued to the winner of the Missouri-Kansas football game … Originated in 1935. Trophy was conceived as Indian in nature by a couple of Mizzou alumni, since Osage Indians roamed the plains of Kansas and Missouri long before the state universities were founded … Original intent was to stimulate new interest in longtime series that had dwindled during the Depression of the ’30s and MU’s all-time low in football victories … Supposedly authentic Indian drum was purchased in a Kansas City pawn shop, and new drum was acquired prior to 1986 game … Autographed originally on both drum heads by KU and MU alumni … Tradition was temporarily forgotton for a few years but resumed on an annual basis in 1947 … The first game ended in a scoreless tie.


Issued to the winner of the Missouri-Nebraska football game … Originated in 1927. Laid aside in World War II years, and later resurrected in 1947 … Bell was originally stolen from a church in Seward, Neb., by two Nebraska fraternities (Phi Delta Theta and Delta Tau Delta) who shared the same house … When each fraternity moved to separate living quarters, they battled for possession of the bell each year in a specified contest athletic or academic … When in 1927, Missouri proposed a suitable trophy be established for the MU-Nebraska football rivalry, the bell was suggested and adopted – engraved on one side with an “M” and on the other with an “N” … At Mizzou, the bell is cared for by the QEBH Society, while the Nebraska caretaker is the Innocents Society of Nebraska … Missouri won the first game, 7-6.


Ceremony of smoking the old pipe was inaugurated in 1929 by Chester M. Brewer, Mizzou’s director of athletics, and by members of Mystical Seven, a University of Missouri honorary group … The peace pipe was donated by a Mr. R. L. Hill, an “M” man and former president of the Missouri student body … Ceremony takes place during halves, with Mystical Seven representing Missouri, and a similar organization representing Oklahoma … Missouri won the first game, 13-0.


Issued to the winner of the Missouri-Iowa State football game … Originated in 1959. The strangest of circumstances got this rivalry underway … Prior to the 1959 game in Ames, a Missouri assistant coach put on his headset in the press box and got a big surprise – he could hear the Iowa State coaches chatting, since the wires were crossed and each side could hear the other … Northwestern Bell of Ames donated the trophy, made of Alexander Graham Bell’s chief invention … Missouri won the first game, 14-0.

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