Following the announcement the Missouri Tigers head been selected to play the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel made the media rounds in various platforms with the same message -- buy tickets, Mizzou fans.
Pinkel was cognizant of the reputation Missouri has somehow come up with that their fans don't travel well which is a perceived reason why they've been passed over for higher bowls in the past. Of course, Missouri fans also take the placement in lesser bowls as "getting screwed" or what not. Both fair points.
Pinkel, shortly after the 2010 Insight Bowl announcement, issued a challenge to Missouri fans.
"We need our fans there," he said. "It’s our job to consistently go to bowls and we’re doing it now. Mizzou fans, (I) challenge you."
You heard a variation of that in Kansas City papers, Columbia papers and radio stations in the area. Some took it as Pinkel calling out the fan base but I think the vast majority looked at it realistically -- um, he's right. 40 wins in four years is no joke and Mizzou fans have to live up to the high expectations the team has set on the field.
This year, Insight Bowl officials have been happy with Mizzou's ticket efforts -- one deal for $100 got you a ticket, bus ride to the game and four nights in a hotel -- as they've sold 7,200 of their 11,000 tickets (which doesn't count tickets from the Insight Bowl folks themselves or those buying on the secondary market).
Earlier this week Pinkel addressed the way he went about his challenge to Mizzou fans to pack the stadium.
"I’m just being honest," Pinkel said of his challenge, which some thought might have alienated some fans. "Our fans are the best, and I want to be a great traveler for bowl games. There’s no reason on earth that we can’t. I just kind of expressed my opinion in a very encouraging and positive way, as I always do."
So Pinkel's challenge looks good for now as Tigers fans aren't being considered a liability in the ticket sales department. How that affects next year and whatever bowl Mizzou gets will have to be determined. Of course if the Tigers lose this game the story line becomes why did Gary Pinkel call the fans out when his team can't show up. Alas, that's life. When you win, it's hard to do anything wrong, and Pinkel hasn't been doing a lot wrong lately.