This year celebrates 35 years since the inaugural season of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Missouri State has participated in the MVFC since its first season in 1985. In its first 34 seasons, the MVFC has produced countless All-Americans and combined for nine national championship titles.
The history of MSU football extends much further back than 1985, though.
“In the early years of the school, when it was a much smaller school in a much smaller city, (the football team) was vitally important to the identity of the campus and of the city,” MSU donor, 1991 alumus and history junkie Scott Whiteley Carter said.
The first MSU football game dates back to 1909. Missouri State, then Fourth District Normal School, took on Springfield High School. According to Carter, opponents were usually based on geography rather than size and age before World War I. This included colleges, high schools, YMCAs or any other organized team.
From 1909 to 1929, the football field on campus was located where Freudenberger House or “Freddy” is now. In 1929, the location was switched to Plaster Stadium’s current location, but it had a much different look. There were no stands for fans to watch the game, only the field.
The first football stadium at MSU was built in 1941. It was renamed Briggs Stadium in 1971, after long-time athletic director, Arthur Briggs. Briggs is known as one of the pioneers of MSU athletics.
“As a university ambassador, I actually worked in the President’s Box at football games,” Carter said. “When I first started doing it, it was at the old Briggs Stadium where the President’s Box barely seated four people.”
The stadium was then expanded in 1991 and named after donor, Robert Plaster. The expansion included a bigger President’s Box, thankfully to Carter, as well as an additional 8,500 seats, 24 luxury suites holding 10 people each, a 40-seat luxury box and a new press box.
“I was not involved in the discussions, but I certainly suspect Mr. Plaster probably would not have given the money for the student union if not for the football stadium,” Carter said. “The first amount of money he gave the university was for the football stadium.”
To celebrate their 35th anniversary, the MVFC has been releasing league moments in 10 categories including but not limited to top FBS wins, against the top 25, fantastic finishes, top playoff moments and streak snappers.
One moment considered for MVFC top FBS wins was an overtime win for Missouri State against Oklahoma State in 1996. It was the first NCAA Division I-A overtime.
“(Football) has long played an important role as a rallying point for the history of the university,” Carter said.
Another consideration for Missouri State was their highest-ranked team win against No. 3 McNeese State in 1996.
The Bears kicker at the time, Wayne Boyer, converted four field goals to account for all 12 points in the 12-7 road win.
The most notable and successful team in the MVFC is North Dakota State.
NDSU currently holds the conference record of eight consecutive conference titles (2011-present) as well as 18 consecutive conference wins (2012-2014) and 26 consecutive home wins (2012-2015). The Bison have earned seven of the nine Division I FCS titles won by MVFC schools.
In addition to the MVFC celebration, college football celebrates its 150th season this year.
Nov. 6 is the 150th anniversary of the first-ever college football game. The game was played between Princeton and Rutgers on a plot of land that now marks Rutgers’ gymnasium in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Since its initial kickoff in 1869, college football has grown into much more than a sport. According to the National Football Foundation, as of 2016, there were 774 colleges and universities that provide football programs, a number that grows by about 5 every year.
A video produced by CFB150, the organization spreading word about the milestone year, stated “For 150 years, college football has shaped schools, communities, leaders, our country, ourselves.”