Join Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter for his live chat at 2 p.m. Thursday

Join Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter for his live chat at 2 p.m. Thursday

Bring your Tigers football, basketball and recruiting questions, and talk to Dave Matter in a live chat at 2 p.m. Thursday.

    Good afternoon, Mizzou chatters. Let's get started here.
    No post-practice blog today because of the chat, but I'll pass along a few notes from this morning's practice. 
    Injuries: LB Chad Bailey will return tomorrow; WR Micah Wilson was back today. Both had been out with "sickness."
    CB Snoop Reaves will be out until at least midseason with a knee injury that occurred this summer.
    DT Jon Jones, another freshman, will miss the season with an injury that popped up this summer. 
    And freshman OL J'Marion Gooch has been medically disqualified for an issue that surfaced during physicals that players underwent before camp. Unfortunately that means he won't be able to play at Mizzou this year or beyond. He can medically redshirt, meaning he can stay on scholarship for this year.
    I'll mix in a few more practice notes as the chat unfolds.
    Hello again master of chat. I’m all in favor of NIL. I think it’s past time these student athletes are at least provided the legal opportunity to earn something off their hard work. Having stated that, I recognize compensation opportunities will vary greatly and will NOT be the early retirement fund some folks make it out to be. Recognizing this is unchartered territory, I’m curious as to what, if anything, you’re hearing about financial windfalls from things like autographing memorabilia (i.e. equipment etc) as I think that will be a low hanging fruit for a lot of athletes. Thanks for your time and Ill take your answer off the air.
    There might be some Mizzou athletes who cash in with fairly lucrative deals. I've heard rumblings but nothing official. Mizzou can't disclose that info publicly and the players generally don't share that information with the media either. For the most part, players are making a few bucks here and there or getting free meals or small appearance fees for events they attend. We'll see how it develops over time. The rule has only been in place for about five weeks at this point.
    Reporters got to watch a couple periods of 11 on 11 scrimmaging today. A couple highlights ...
    Dominic Lovett can fly. He hauled in a deep touchdown pass against the first-team defense, snagging a strike fro Connor Bazelak down the right sideline. He's got a lot of upside in this offense.
    Can Michael Cox earn a role in the running game? The walk-on running back rumbled for a long touchdown run off the right side against a backup unit. At least 60 yards. He's got some power. Are there enough carries to go around?
    Elijah Young looks like he’ll be a receiving threat out of the backfield. He turned a short flare pass into a touchdown, racing a couple defenders to the pylon for the score.
    Ja’Mori Maclin made a nice run after the catch on a bubble screen. Drinkwitz later said he had seven catches on the day.
    I enjoy every day reading about Missouri and SEC football. Recently most of the stories in the Post have been about Illinois and their players. Do reporters have more access in Champagne than Columbia? If so I think our coach is making a mistake in granting the papers access to grow fan interest in the team. This secrecy was noted by many people as one of the faults of Barry Odum.
    OK, it's time to clarify things here. The Post-Dispatch does not have a reporter covering Illinois football. The newspaper in Decatur that covers Illinois is owned by the same company as the P-D and for years we share their content on Illini sports. 
    That said, we've had at least 11 stories about Mizzou football in the last week since the start of preseason camp - and that's with just three practices being open to reporters. The access has been very good so far. No, not every practice is open - very few teams in the SEC grant media any practice access - but we've been able to interview every mizzou coach and at least 30 players in the last week - all in-person interviews. many schools are still doing zoom interviews. so, MU's access and our coverage have been very strong, in my opinion. 
  • Dave, do you agree that the current staff has a better opportunity to build a consistent top 20 program than Coach Pinkel did when viewed within the context of where MU football was when each regime arrived in Columbia?
    In their respective second seasons Pinkel had no real chance at 8 wins; Coach Drink does, though it’s far from a certainty. Eight (or more) wins season year would put the program on its strongest footing in my memory. The recruiting success would likely continue and from that sustainable success could/would be expected. Conversely, a disappointing season would look too familiar and momentum would be lost and with it enthusiasm within the state, particularly the students and alumni.
    All of this to say: this is a “bigger”season than most in recent memory.
    For one, Drinkwitz inherited a much better roster from Odom than what Pinkel inherited in 2001, so I'd agree with your premise based alone on the rosters they took over. Of the roster Pinkel inherited, only one guy would eventually be drafted: Justin Gage.
    Drinkwitz inherited a roster that's already produced five draft picks: Bolton, Bledsoe, Gillespie, Rountree and Borom ... plus a few more likely future picks, notably Jeffcoat, Byers, Manuel, Badie, etc. Not to mention, the co-freshman of the year in the SEC in Connor Bazelak. 
    So, my point is, Drinkwitz is far more equipped to have a better Year 2 than Pinkel and his staff were. They had a special QB in Brad Smith but he was an untested redshirt freshman surrounded by marginal talent. 
    Was Robin Pingston at the news conference
    Mizzou graduate first time writer to your chat. After following mizzou for decades I hate to see Oklahoma back in the division. It used to be an automatic loss. What happened Oklahoma State I thought both schools were tied together. Where one with the other went?.
    Whatever bound those two schools together in the past isn't a factor anymore. 
    I understand folks who don't like OU and Texas in the SEC, but if you're looking out for the best interest of the conference, you'd rather have them in your league than someone else's - because we know they're not staying in the Big 12. 
    If Mizzou trades out annual games against Florida and Georgia for games against OU and Texas, I can make a strong case that's a net gain for the Tigers, especially if the Steve Sarkisian hire is no better than UT's last two hires.
    Good afternoon, Dave. President Choi stated in the introductory news conference for AD Reed-Francois that "she will be making some deep, but necessary changes" and that "business as usual goes out the window".

    Seems that President Choi was blowing off some steam vis a vis his relationship with Mr.
    Sterk. What internal "necessary changes" do you see forthcoming? What "necessary changes" do you see in terms of the department's relationship with fans and donors?

    What is he referring to in terms of "business as usual going out the window"? Again, what do you see coming in the future and no longer a part of the future? Interesting and exciting times I believe headed our way. Thank you.
    The president didn't elaborate on what he's talking about specifically, but I think what he's touching on is the overall mentality of the department. Jim Sterk on day one talked about going from good to great. Choi pointed out yesterday, how do you define great? He wants Mizzou to be measured by championships. He wants bolder decisions, more aggressive leadership in athletics. Most people who worked with Sterk appreciated and respected his integrity. But he didn't have a dynamic personality. He wasn't incredibly personable. His coaches didn't know him well. When those relationships aren't strong, distrust builds and morale sinks. And more than anything, the Drinkwitz hiring process exposed cracks in the foundation, even though it appears they landed a good coach. 
    Folks, I'm already seeing some vile comments in the queue about the new AD. If you can't ask a grown-up question then please go back to your sandbox and entertain yourself. I've got better things to do.
  • With the medical disqualification of Gooch does that potentially open one more scholarship to increase the 2022 class by one from what they were already planning?
  • I don't believe it frees up a scholarship for this year.
  • I see you have some preliminary coverage of the new AD online - haven't had a chance to read it, yet, so forgive me if this is in there but, if not, give us your take on Reed-Francois, beyond the surface stuff (resume, etc.). My take is, she (and anyone who got this job) better be a helluva fundraiser. ADs have to do a lot but, for a school like Mizzou in this moment, keeping the money flowing is job #1.
    I was impressed with her yesterday. She's a very polished speaker but also very engaging, very personable, good sense of humor. After the televised press conference, she met with about eight or so writers in another room. She took the time to learn everyone's name and where we're from, where we work. She tested herself on knowing our names throughout the session. That might seem minor and unimportant, but in my history of covering introductory press conferences that is very unusual. With some coaches/ADs, I wasn't sure they even knew my name for a couple years. That's the sign of a person who values relationships - and that's an essential part of being an AD. You can't be aloof. To have a successful regime, she's going to need to know the names, faces and backgrounds of far more important people than the local beat writer. The people I've interviewed and spoken to off the record who know her well all say similar things: She's highly intelligent and incredibly driven. She's tough. Nobody will walk over her.
    Did I miss news on KU's basketball team decision from the NCAA? I'd love to know the mental gymnastics the NCAA used to look the other way on Baylor's violations.
    I actually agreed with the NCAA's decision on Baylor. What happened there doesn't constitute NCAA violations. Similar to what happened at Penn State with Jerry Sandusky. Some awful people did terrible things there. But what's the point in punishing current players who had nothing to do with anything that transpired all those years ago? Baylor's program and the people in charge at the time - some but not all - already paid the price for their sins there.
    Any thoughts on what Reed-Francois first goals will be? Would like to see the baseball program try to get on par with the rest of the SEC, but I know that's not what makes the money. Thanks!
    Baseball won't be a major priority, nor should it be. It would be nice for the program to be more competitive, but even if we're talking about a 30-win team that makes the NCAA regionals once every few years, it's still a program that will lose money. There's far more urgency to fill Memorial Stadium and Mizzou Arena - and, as President Choi said yesterday - not just for Mizzou events. He talked about hosting more concerts at those events, to mirror some of the revenue projects that Reed-Francois pulled off at UNLV to boost the finances of an athletics department that doesn't have nearly the same kind of revenue resources as Mizzou - and had to supplement nearly half of its revenue from university allocations. 
    Baseball was trending in the right direction just a couple years ago. I suspect Bieser will get a chance to get that program back on track before she makes any major moves. 
    Dave, help me with the timeline. Francois & Jackson visited in June and hung out with Drink. Sterk shown door. Francois becomes a very quick hire for AD... Martin get renewed contract.. Francois becomes UCLA AD
  • I missed Cuonzo getting a new contract. When did that happen? When approached about an extension this offseason he said it wasn't necessary and pushed it off. 
    I know it's fun to come up with conspiracy theories, but it really was a coincident that the family was here in June. They have the connection to Cuonzo, but her son was interested in somewhere he could attend journalism school and walk-on a major basketball team. The logical place was Mizzou. She had just signed an extension in April. There were other ADs strongly in the mix for this job. It could have gone another way - despite that June visit. 
    Banner day for you, eh Dave? This hire will allow you to virtue signal like never before.
    How so? Please explain. Because the team I cover hired a woman? What does that mean? Because they hired someone whose mother grew up in another country? Virtue signal? Please, share your thoughts.
    I realize these go hand in hand, but which happens 1st...? MIZ fb wins SEC or Francois receives a record donation from an anonymous booster?
    A record donation would have to be more than the $25 million the Lauries donated for the basketball arena, and there's not a specific project that requires that much money right now. So, I'm not sure I'd be holding out for a record figure any time soon.
    Dave should the Mizzou football team be ranked in the pre-season Top 25?
    I'm not an AP football voter this year, but if I were I'd consider putting Mizzou somewhere in the 20s. I did a way-early Top 25 back in January and had Mizzou at No. 25. I picked MU third in the SEC East, so if they're the third-best team in a division with Georgia and Florida that should put them on the fringe of the top 25.
    I am impressed with Desiree's FB knowledge. Having a law degree I feel will be an asset when navigating NIL. I feel like she can help the stoooooodent athaleets not get screwed in shady contracts. She seems to already have have good relations with CM and ED
    She has a lot of strengths based on her track record. But we'll see how she handles the job here, how she confronts some of the bigger challenges facing Mizzou in the short- and long-term. She still has to put together a staff. That will be essential. Unsure at this point if she'll bring in outsiders or restructure, but I expect at least a few hires to be made.
  • What are you seeing at practice? And surprise standouts so far? Anyone unexpected getting a lot of first team reps? And what do you think is the starters on the O line to start the year?
    Today was the first day we were able to see a single rep featuring both an offensive and defensive player. Otherwise, it's just individual position drills, which aren't the kind of drills you can learn much from. 
    Based on what I've seen, here's how I'd map out the offensive and defensive lines, first and second unit:
    OL, starters: left tackle Javon Foster, left guard Xavier Delgado center Mike Maietti, right guard Case Cook, right tackle Hyrin White
    2nd team: LT Zeke Powell, LG Luke Griffin, C Drake Heismeyer, RG EJ Ndoma-Ogar, RT Connor Wood
    I'd say the most competitive battles are right tackle and left guard. 
    As for the D-line, things are more fluid here. The top ends look like Isaiah McGuire, Trajan Jeffcoat, Chris Turner and Jatorian Hansford
    At tackle, some combination of Darius Robinson, Akial Byers and Kobie Whiteside will be the two starters. Mekhi Wingo, the freshman from De Smet, got some time with the 2s today. Drinkwitz said he "absolutely has a chance (to play this year). He plays with the right kind of chip on his shoulder, leverage, got great speed. He's making plays. He's flashing."
    Any info on how JJ Hester is developing? Would like to see him get some opportunities this year.
    He's going to be in the mix on the outside. Drinkwitz made a point to say how impressed he's been with the three receivers who redshirted last year (played fewer than four games): Hester, Maclin and Luper. "They've really stepped up and said, Hey, we're not going to just sit on the bench. Those guys are making plays. They're pushing."
    Hey Dave, what is your reasonable ceiling and floor for wins for the Tigers this year?
    I'd say ceiling is 10 wins. If everything goes right and this team maximizes its potential, they can beat everyone but Georgia but will still have a slip somewhere. Maybe that's A&M at home. Maybe at Kentucky. Maybe Florida at home.
    I'd put the floor at four. They shouldn't have a problem with SEMO and North Texas. Central Michigan can certainly pull off the Week 1 upset and catch this team looking ahead. (Think Wyoming 2019). Boston College won't be an easy win. Mizzou should beat at least two of the three SEC East teams with new coaches, but nothing's a given. 
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