Day 2: Missouri | Traveling Violations
COLUMBIA, Mo. – We are not sure what it is about college basketball and hair. From the Lou (Henson) Do to the Gene Keady comb-over to Dick Vitale's bald dome, there is always something.
The list included, until recently, Quin Snyder.
The fashionable Missouri coach got a haircut a couple weeks ago; he now looks clean cut. Considering that his well-cared-for coif is half of what made him famous, that's news.
"Maybe [now] I'll be famous for having a good team and running a good program," Snyder said.
Snyder says he started growing his hair out when he was a Duke assistant. He was in his late 20s, but his youthful face made people think he was one of the players. The hair made him look older, different.
It wound up making him stand out on the sidelines during recruiting trips and presented an image of hip, urban cool. It worked.
"It's been something people have had fun with," Snyder said Saturday after running his top-five Tigers through practice. "And one of those things I don't mind having fun with either."
Now it is gone. He has a simple cut, clean and neat. It takes some getting used to.
"It caught us off guard a little bit," said senior Ricky Paulding. "We're used to it now. He's still the same guy. He just got a cut for picture day."
Snyder knows that the new do will attract attention for a while. But he just wanted a new style.
"There isn't any deep melodrama tied into the decision," Snyder said.
Tell it to Gene Keady.
• For some reason there are a plethora of roadside establishments on I-70 in Western Missouri billing themselves as "Adult Superstores." We are talking about billboards and buildings every few miles on what would otherwise be a desolate, if pretty, section of highway.
We didn't stop into any because we are highly moral people (and it being very early Saturday morning we figured they weren't open).
The most ingenious of the businesses was the one that boasted both "Totally Nude Women" and "Arcade" – obviously going for the fun-for-the-whole-family angle.
• All of those totally nude women places did bring new meaning to the term "Show Me State" however.
• Then there was the philosophical and pro-carnivore billboard that claimed: "Life is like a bowl of pork chops."
• The construction cranes already are towering over Mizzou's campus as work is well underway on the Tigers' new basketball facility, a $75 million, 15,000-seat arena that is set to open on Oct. 1, 2004. The new place will have all the bells and whistles coaches covet for recruiting – a dedicated practice facility, plush offices, state-of-the-art locker rooms and so on.
• Mizzou has a big forward named Linas Klieza who hails from Lithuania and goes 6-8, 245 lbs. He's been dubbed the "Vanilla Gorilla" by teammates.
• Our intent was to stop into Blaine, Missouri – the stool capital of the world – and at the very least eat at the Dairy Queen if not take in a show. But like Mort Guffman himself we never made it.
• We spent Sunday attending the St. Louis Rams-Green Bay Packer game as guests of partial team owner Stan Kroenke and his wife Ann. We watched the first half from the sideline, which is an experience that will completely change your view of the NFL – and not just because you are right near the cheerleaders. Professional football players are inconceivably big, fast and oh-so intense on every single play.
• The second half we got after the mega-spread in the owner's luxury box, prompting our often-hungry wheelman Bret Bearup to surmise, "I'm a partial bulimic. I binge, but I forget to purge."
• The most coveted award of this trip is, of course, Restaurant of the Tour. There are few higher honors in the culinary world. Or something like that.
Well, someone is going to have to really bring it to beat out Luciano's, the great Italian place in Clayton, Mo. that delivered to the Kroenke's condominium Saturday night. Combine a bison meat loaf appetizer, penne with veal meatballs and a truly spectacular view of the St. Louis skyline, and that is as good as it gets.
• A few readers emailed in to complain about our assertion yesterday that Kansas was as flat as a pancake. Like this is a bad thing? What's wrong with pancakes? I personally don't know a single person who doesn't like pancakes. Pancakes have the greatest Q rating of all the breakfast foods. Would you rather be compared to quiche?
So take it with pride Sunflower Staters.
As we noted, Kansas is a beautiful place, especially in the Northeast part of the state, where Lawrence resides. We've traveled extensively throughout the state through the year and love it. In fact, we think everyone reading this should go to Kansas on vacation and we'd like to point out just a few of the attractions awaiting you:
World's largest hand-dug well (Brenham), the Little House on the Prairie (Wayside), Barbed Wire Museum (La Crosse), the geographic center of the Conterminous U.S. (Lebanon), Garden of Eden (Lucas) and the Oil Museum (Hill City), among other things.
Total Mileage: 376.3 miles
Campaign stop tomorrow: Champaign, Ill.