Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Bring your questions and comments about Mizzou sports, and talk to Post-Dispatch beat writer Dave Matter in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Thursday.




  • Howdy, chatters. Something tells me there's lots to discuss today. Just a hunch. I'll take your questions, comments, rants and raves for the next two hours. Lock and load and fire away.
  • Yes, indeed. The former Mizzou hoops coach who came before Norm Stewart died over the weekend at 98.
  • Talk about the defense, if you would please. Specifically: Shouldn't it have been apparent BEFORE the games started that the new overall defensive strategy was ot going to work? In hindsight, might it not have been wiser to stick with the "old" defense and use practice time (mostly offseason and spring) to implement the "new," until such time as supposed defensive-minded coaches Odom and Cross looked at it on the field and said: "They get it. Let's go."
  • The new defense was installed during the spring. Hard to say how well it was working then and during preseason camp because the media weren't allowed to watch scrimmages or team periods during practice. The defense is a mess right now, no doubt about it. But I don't buy the theory that it's all about the schematic changes. The changes worked pretty well against Georgia. Things worked OK at Florida. Defenders were in position to make open-field tackles against LSU and Middle Tennessee and flat missed those tackles. There's a combination of factors involved, and the scheme is never perfect when you're sitting at 2-5 with one of the worst statistical defenses in the country - but players have to be held accountable, too.
  • Dave,
    Even the great Nick Saban lost to Louisiana-Monroe in his first year at Bama. Not saying Odom will be in the same coaching galaxy as Saban, but the (few) people saying to fire Odom already are crazy. Guy needs 3 years to see if he’s truly the one for the job. Should make people appreciate that much more what Gary Pinkel did for this program. Mizzou just isn’t very good this year. Yes, there were some questionable decisions by the refs in the game on Saturday. Yes, Mizzou had some brutal injuries with Scherer and Beckner going out. But ultimately even with those things going against Mizzou, they should beat a team like Middle Tennesee. Mizzou just doesn’t have much depth and overall talent this year.
    Also, if all SEC jobs were on the open market, how would you rank them 1 through 14? I’d say Mizzou may only be a “better” job than Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Miss St, and (maybe) South Carolina. Just trying to put things in perspective how impressive it was that we made it to the SEC championship game two straight years in 2013-2014. M-I-Z
  • Good post. I'm sure a few people might want to bring up Odom's job security, but it's not worth discussing. He's not getting fired at the end of this season unless some NCAA or legal skeletons emerge - or human skeletons. That would get any coach fired. Yes, Missouri should beat Middle Tennessee in any given season. SEC teams should always have better resources and talent than any team in Conference USA. It's obvious the defense had a horrendous day. Special teams had two major gaffes, too. But I think the offense is getting off the hook too much. Yes, they gobbled up yards and scored 45 points. But lots of procedural penalties, two inexcusable fumbles and an inability to drive the ball and extend drives when they absolutely needed it most at the end of the game. Vandy scored 47 points on Middle Tennessee. Enough said.
  • As for rating the SEC jobs on the open market, I'd base my choices on financial resources, natural recruiting territory, tradition, prestige and fan support. 1. Alabama; 2. Florida; 3. Georgia; 4. LSU; 5. Texas A&M; 6. Auburn; 7. Tennessee; 8. Arkansas; 9. Missouri; 10. South Carolina; 11. Ole Miss; 12. Kentucky; 13. Mississippi State; 14 Vandy.
  • Has Mizzou even been a threat to sign prospects like Goodwin and Gordon? Getting smoked by SLU in basketball recruiting ... wow.
  • I'd be willing to bet a Booches' burger that Gordon's recruitment isn't over. Not that I think Missouri will get back in the mix. But he can't sign a LOI for more than a year. He's got two more HS seasons and another summer on the AAU circuit to attract more attention. It's been a long time since Missouri was a strong contender for the state's elite prospects. Missouri has signed plenty of high-profile players from within the state border and just beyond the border over the last decade-plus (McKinney, Dixon, Denmon, Rush), but as far as locking down the elite players in the state, you have to go back to the Norm Stewart years, when he could pull in a Sundvold, Stipo and Peeler. Long time ago.
  • Who should have had the loudest voice saying a rookie head coach and a rookie DC might not be a good idea for success in the SEC?
  • Cross was a co-coordinator at TCU. Granted, different job title and it was only for a year, but these guys have been involved in major college football for several years. That said, as I just posted at STLtoday.com a few minutes ago, the SEC is no place for training wheels. There are only a few coaches who took over programs in this league as first-time college head coaches who weren't eventually fired - and only two examples who lasted more than six years before they were eventually let go: Phil Fulmer and Mark Richt.
  • Once we get a few more chatters in here, I'll post a new poll for Missouri's W-L record. I imagine after Saturday's loss and the latest injuries many opinions have changed.
  • Also, congrats to all the poll voters who went with Abraham or Glenn for last week's TWD poll question. And if I just spoiled that for you four days after the episode, well, you're not that much of a fan.
  • Dave, My optimism for this season has taken a serious hit...it seems much like the Mizzou Defense. My hopes of seeing them make a bowl this year is on life support. That being said, my question is: Is Cross over his head here? Is our defense really as bad as I've seen over the past few weeks? Throw me a lifeline here...
  • The defense is what it is. Not much of a pass rush. Crummy tacklers. A handful of guys were having decent seasons. Scherer, Penton, Gibson, Beckner, Hatley. But otherwise, who else? Up until Gibson getting hurt on the first play Saturday I thought MU's corner tandem was having a solid season. I had Penton on my Midseason All-SEC team. But now that Scherer and Beckner are out, I don't see any reason to expect any improvement. There's been some disconnect with Cross and the staff, for sure. The coaches have to be accountable for that to some degree. But I think some of that falls on the players, too. Here's my theory: The D-Line ZOU moniker was fun for a while and good for MU branding. But when one specific position group gets its own nickname and reputation based mostly on the production of guys who are no longer around (Richardson, Ray, Ealy, Sam, Golden, etc.) I think some entitlement might start to simmer within the group. Guys who were next in line and saw themselves as part of the team's elite position group got new coaches who had different philosophies and the players resisted. It worked for Shane Ray and Markus Golden and Walter Brady, who are you to change the defense? If that was the mindset within the group - and by several accounts, that thinking reflected the reality for some guys - not all, but some - then you've got some serious dysfunction on your hands. If I get new bosses and they have new ideas about my role on the staff, pushback isn't going to get me very far. Just my two cents.
  • Hi Dave, when one says that Odom needs 3 years, that is the same logic that should apply to Anderson. How much influence do you think Corey Tate really has in the landing of Goodwin/Gordon and potentially other STL area kids? Or is it their desire to pay close to home? Illinois is losing out on these recruits as well.
  • I think most coaches at this level who are trying to change the culture of the program and inherit some major personnel issues deserve two-three years to get it fixed provided they show some progress and promise along the way. I'm skeptical to give Tate too much credit for landing Goodwin and Gordon. SLU has a much different sales pitch to those players than Mizzou or Illinois. SLU can sell a new head coach with a clean slate and better job security; Missouri can sell none of that, nor Illinois for that matter.
  • Hi dave, missef you at The Flea Market Tuesday. Probably a good day to stay in CoMo. A couple of weeks ago I asked/suggested you take the bull by the horns and suggest to Jim Sterk he work with the AD's at both Kansas & Illinois to set up an annual showdown of both schools common athletic teams in all sports in St' Louis for Illinois and Kansas City for KU. I would think having such an event twice a year in both cities would be a good way for all schools involved to reach out to their alumni base. Can youpicture Missouti Baseball and Softball against KU at T-Bones park while Soccer is being played next door the same weekend at Children;s Mercy Park. I'm sure St. Louis would have comparible facilities to host the Tigers against the Ilini. Your thoughts?
  • My apologies for missing the KC luncheon but I couldn't miss Kim Anderson's press conference. I'm trying to reschedule but things get pretty hectic here when football and hoops overlap for the next month or so. I like the idea of Missouri playing Kansas and Illinois, but I think Missouri is past the point of begging their neighbors to the west to resume the series. It's just not going to happen as long as KU's current leadership is there unless they have a change of heart at some point. Carving out a Missouri-Illinois series in St. Louis is more manageable but neither school has openings for football games for several years down the road.
  • Dave - does Odom run the risk of undermining Cross by jumping in to help with the defense? I get that there seems to be some disconnect between what Cross is instructing the players to do and what is actually happening on the field. For those players who haven't quite 'bought in', I just wonder if they are expecting Odom to 'side' with them over Cross?
  • The players love Odom. Even if the changes are only subtle, I think he'll reach them this week and get them to buy what he's selling. Let's not forget that Odom has been coaching this team since January, and anything Cross installed came with Odom's approval. It's not like the defense is a surprise for the head coach. But I do think he has earned the respect of the players to maybe get more out of them this week. But, and this was brought up by another writer after Saturday's game and Odom didn't necessarily disagree: There's a good chance this defense, or what's left of it, was really overrated heading into this season. Ben Frederickson wrote along those lines back in our season preview edition. You can't just assume because last year's defense was so good and players played well that they'd all play well again this year.
  • Anderson was already feeling the recruiting heat from the other SEC teams making big hires. But now SLU is poaching players from STL. Clock is ticking.
  • I don't think poach is the right word considering SLU is closer to both Goodwin and Gordon. It's never good to lose local talent and it's especially bad to lose it to a local school that plays in a mid-major conference. We can quibble that the A-10 is more high-major than the SEC some seasons, but I have trouble calling a league with Duquesne and Fordham anything other than a mid-major.
  • Dave, do you get a sense how this staff has been received by in state high school coaches (or at least StL)? Given the limited high school talent in MO, it seems like it is a must for the coaches to get the majority of top prospects. Im not saying get them all, that wont happen, but they need to get most. Do you also sense a return to Texas recruiting with his staff versus the deep south?
  • I assume we're talking football here? If so, considering Andy Hill (KC) and Cornell Ford (STL) are still around and well liked by in-state coaches, I don't think much has changed as far as MU's in-state reputation. Odom is very likable, too, and he's no stranger to the high school coaching circles around the state. Remember,  he was one, too, and also served as Pinkel's director of recruiting. He knows the lay of the land. Yes, they've made strides to get back into Texas. Cross recruits there. Finley and Walters recruit there.
  • Which season will be more disappointing, this MU football season, or the upcoming MU basketball season?
  • I would say football invariably because does anyone have realistic expectations that the basketball team will be anything but maybe moderately improved? I thought this football team would go to a bowl game and look competitive against some of the best teams on the schedule. I don't think the basketball team will sniff the NCAA Tournament.
  • It seemed odd that Witter was allowed to go back in the game. Can you be knocked out cold and NOT have a concussion? Did they have anything to say after the game about this?
  • Odom says he was not knocked unconscious. Two team doctors and the head trainer checked him out on the sideline. I was surprised he went back in. After watching the replay, he laid still for about five seconds then rolled onto his back on his own. Hard to know if he was truly knocked out or just lying still. I wrote about this earlier this week: http://www.stltoday.com/sports/college/mizzou/mizzou-s-witter-cleared-to-return-after-nasty-collision/article_c892ea03-861e-5a2a-97d3-1fed89893486.html
  • When will the sun rise on Mizzou athletics again?
  • Nov. 13. First wrestling match of the year.
  • Can you give me something to be optimistic about as a Mizzou football fan, anything? To my question...with the loss of Scherer and Beckner, if I were the coach, I would be inclined to slow the pace of the game down on offense and try to run the ball a lot more with Crockett as I just don't think Mizzou's defense has the kind of depth to be left out there with maybe their two best defenders gone. To me a good coaching staff evolves to the situations they are dealt rather than holding on to convictions based on the personnel pre-season. What do you say?
  • I get the theory, but Missouri's defense misses tackles and plays poorly early in games, not just when they're fatigued. I don't think depth is the issue as much as talent. In Saturday's game the only advantage Missouri had was the offense, and you could tell the tempo was affecting Middle Tennessee. Lots of "cramps" from the Blue Raiders when Missouri was moving the ball at will. I wouldn't mess with the offense too much at this point. Having linebackers and safeties who can tackle the receiver or back running past them would help.
  • Serious question...any chance Gary Pinkel thinks about coaching again? Looks likes there will be a ton of openings around the country. I love Columbia, but there are better places to un-retire.
  • No, he's done. I've visited with him several times the last few weeks. He's very happy in retirement.
  • Why did Odom run off the defensive line coach after all the recent success? Have you asked Odom this?
  • Kuligowski didn't want to work for Odom and Odom wasn't going to hire him. They didn't have a bad relationship; they had no relationship. It was common knowledge on the staff. Kuligowski nearly took a job at Illinois because he didn't want to work under Odom when Pinkel hired him as the DC. Pinkel had three chances in 15 years to make Kuligowski his DC and he picked others (Eberflus, Steckel, Odom) and it was obvious Kuligowksi was unhappy with the setup. He   could be a difficult guy to get along with. I speak from personal experience.
  • I was at the football game on Saturday and watched Witter take the hit that knocked him out cold. I was very surprised to see him back in the game after that. How did he not have a concussion?
  • Touched on this earlier. I was surprised, too. Odom insisted he cleared the sideline concussion tests.
  • Is Charles Harris a first rounder?
  • He's not playing like one, but I'd be surprised if he comes back next year. The NFL grades underclassmen as either 1st rounders or 2nd rounders and otherwise advises them to return to school. Here's what he said about that this week: "At the end of the season if I feel like I want to leave I’m going to leave. If I don’t feel like I’m going to leave, I’m not going to leave. The NFL’s waiting on me. I’m not waiting on the NFL."
  • Thanks for the chats. I know you only see the end result of the play and consequently if the rcvr ran the right routes etc. Do you see Lock being challenged for the starting job next year? I hope we can upgrade at that position. I don't think he is going to be an elite QB in the SEC. He looks great against the MTSU and EMUs of the world but LSU, FL and Power 5 teams he looks averagish.
  • As long as Odom and Heupel are back I expect Lock to the quarterback. If they don't have someone to challenge him for the job now, they won't have one next year unless a grad transfer comes here for 2017. But I can't imagine a grad transfer joins a program with a junior QB who will have started 20 straight games - assuming Lock finishes the season as the starter, which he will,  barring injury.
  • Hey Dave. Great work, enjoy your coverage. With Kim Anderson missing out on Goodwin and Gordon, what's the backup plan? I know they have a commitment from a highly ranked guard...any big guys on the radar?
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