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A Brief History of Mizzou

Courtesy of the Missourian

Tigers running through the Mizzou banner before the game begins.

October 8, 2009 | 12:00 a.m. CST

For decades, MU students have been chanting “M-I-Z” with an equally spirited “Z-O-U” following from the opposite side of Memorial Stadium. Tiger fans have dubbed the school “Mizzou” as an everyday term, but where did this peculiar nickname stem from? Although there are no codified historical records of Mizzou’s origins, the MU archives point to some clues.


The first football game, with MU students seated on both sides of the stadium, was played on Thanksgiving Day. The Savitar reports “3,000 fans cheered "M-I-S-S-O-U-R-I-Ah!”


A Savitar article about the football team ends with a cheer, “Missou-rah-rah.” This is the earliest MU-sanctioned document to use the word “Missou.”


The Missouri Alumni Quarterly and the Savitar print the word “Mizzou,” the earliest recorded appearance of MU’s nickname.


The MU-KU first-ever Homecoming game. Mizzou’s rivalry with Kansas dates back to the Civil War, but this game was the first time Kansas played in Columbia. This rivalry begat the popular parody of our current chant: “M-I-Z beat K-U” or for some, “M-I-Z F K-U.”


“Old Missouri” and “Old Missou” are adopted as unofficial nicknames for the University in the Savitar archives. The poem “Spirit of Old Missou” is printed in the 1917 Savitar.


The Mizzou Razzers are founded. This is the first spirit group that claims “loyalty to Missouri” and that “Missouri is first in all things,” including “victory with honor.”


The Savitar lists the cheerleaders’ cheers, including “The Varsity,” a chant that is strikingly similar to today’s “Every True Son” in its borrowing of the phrase “M-I-Z-Z-O-U! Rah!-Rah!-Rah!-Rah!”


Seth Rosner, one of the co-founders of Tiger’s Lair, believes the cheer was adapted from Ohio State University’s “O-H-I-O” chant just after MU played the team in the late ’70s. Missouri starts an echoing chant of its own: “M-I-Z,” “Z-O-U.” Ohio might have been first, but Mizzou’s cheer has a better ring to it.


Missouri Alumni Magazine changes its name to Mizzou in the fall of 1995 and claims the new name is “warm, affectionate and unique.”


Just Mizzou It! Quin Snyder becomes the men’s basketball coach and lands a contract with Nike. This is the start of “Mizzou-ification,” which refers to the commercialization of the Mizzou brand.


The football team jumps on the Mizzou bandwagon, and football jerseys switch from a small “Missouri” above the numbers to “Mizzou.”


Today cheerleaders pump up each side of the stadium with “M-I-Z-Z-O-U.” Incoming freshmen adopt the Mizzou chants at the Tiger Pep Rally, and “M-I-Z-Z-O-U” billboards line Interstate 70. And the famous nickname continues to catch on: In September, Facebook added “Mizzou” to the Missouri network name.

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