Missouri's notorious hooligan cult, The Antlers, was rocked by scandal Sunday night after photos emerged of one of the group's senior members attending an outdoor church service in nearby Moberly.
Bolivar, Missouri's Luke Matthews, known as Bile Duct to his fellow Antlers, admitted via text that he was the man in the photo.
"I know how this must look," Duct wrote. "I'm not even sure how it happened. One minute I was planning to take off my pants at the winery. The next, I was singing How Great Thou Art. I couldn't be more embarrassed."
The Antlers have terrorized Mizzou's opponents for more than four decades. While there is a great deal of secrecy surrounding the group's traditions, its members' performances have ranged from merely lewd to the stuff of basketball legend.
"Do you know how much pride we have in our history?" Grand Poobah Artie "Jock Trout" Lansing said. "Our boys served time, friend. When they put dog dollars around their neck and sprayed rabid mouth foam on Nolan Richardson, they made a sacrifice that we will never be able to repay. And now Bile Duct goes and does something like this. A church. I don't know if we'll recover from this."
Duct said he was spending some time away from the group in an effort to not bring further shame on his friends. He admitted he had been raised in a Christian home and had been there up until leaving for Mizzou in the fall of 2015.
"But I was past that!" he insisted via text. "I had put it all behind me. I hadn't prayed in 18 months, swear to God."
It is a fall onto grace that can't be overstated. Saying he was "pre-born" to be an Antler, Duct recounted a story of being born on the very day the Antlers showed up to a CBS-broadcast game versus Arkansas with a special gift for point guard Corey Beck.
"My dad told me it was a sign," Duct wrote. "It read:
That is my heritage."
Duct may have been born on a red-letter day, but his legacy is now in jeopardy.
"We were talking," Poobah Jock Trout said. "Did you know Corey Beck got shot about ten years back? What do you think the chances are that Duct prayed for him? Can you imagine that? Praying for a Razorback? I bet Jeff Gordon is rolling over in his grave right now."
(Told that Gordon, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist and Antler legend, was still alive, Trout winced. "Jesus, Duct must have prayed for him, too.")
Duct says he is planning a public apology prior to Missouri's final football game of the season against Arkansas. He plans to bring something he calls "Paint Can" and promises he will under no circumstances wear a shirt.
His final text read: "It's the least I can do. Hopefully they will understand. Ever since Michael Porter Jr. got here, I see God in every breeze and a glint of the sun. I hope my time away from the church will prove to everyone that my prayers were a one-time mistake. As long as Porter keeps his points under 20 a game, I should be fine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"