(COLUMBIA, Mo.) – The University of Missouri announced Sunday morning that it would institute a lottery system to manage the throngs of fans seeking to make a personal apology to Coach Barry Odom. The lottery system is a response thousands of people who converged on Columbia Saturday night in an effort to find Odom and repent for losing faith in his coaching.
Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton said, “We have fewer than 200 people in this department. We put out an all-call. We thought there was going to be a riot.”
What Burton and his officers found instead was between 5,000 and 6,000 penitent fans, all of them begging for a chance to say “I’m sorry” to Coach Odom.
Saturday night, Odom’s Tigers posted their fifth consecutive win (sixth overall) and became bowl eligible in a 45-17 trouncing over Vanderbilt.
“I was here first,” Hank Trantham said from inside a pup tent he pitched outside Faurot Field. “I thought this might happen after Florida. Once the first half started in Nashville, I started driving from Sikeston. I couldn’t go another minute without Coach knowing how sorry I was.”
Trantham and the thousands of fans around him had all shared the same attitude since the beginning of the season. The believed they were looking at the worst Tigers team in a generation, and they blamed Odom’s leadership for it.
Peter Behr, a 32-year-old fan and Mizzou graduate said, “I actually–and I’m not proud of this…write that down…I’m not proud–I actually spray painted BARRY BLOWS on Rock Quarry Road”
“He painted a pair of testicles and penis above it,” said his mother, Jane, who’d also come to apologize. “In black and gold, though.”
“She bought me the paint,” Behr said.
A family of six from O’Fallon made the trip overnight. Gary Bowers drove the family minivan without stopping once.
“Jane and the girls worked on the signs in the back. We’re environmentally sensitive, so we used the same posters. We just changed FIRE BARRY to YOU’RE ON FIRE BARRY,” Bowers said. “I think he’ll appreciate that.”
Beginning Monday, Mizzou will issue lottery numbers to the estimated 200,000 people who had called for Odom’s firing or otherwise portrayed Odom in a negative light. The first thousand numbers drawn will be given a private audience with Odom after the end of the regular season.
“We intend for that group to be a representative sample of all the fair weather fans who gave up on the coach and the team and, in some cases, called for coach to be fired or–forgive me for saying this–sent to Lawrence, Kansas where he belongs,” said lottery director Jerry Castiglione.
Antlers Grand Poobah Artie “Jock Trout” Lansing said his group would be making themselves available to anyone looking for counseling on how to avoid the common traps of being a Mizzou fan.
“Most of them are a lot like my dad was with our family,” Lansing said. “Gone at the first whisper that showing true support might actually involve some work. We have some experience in helping those kinds of people.”
Castiglione said Athletic Director Jim Sterk will have to participate in the lottery and will not get special dispensation just because he leads the department.
“If Jim can say Cuonzo Martin should be recruiting for the football team, he can wait in line like everybody else to kiss the Coach’s ass,” Castiglione said.