Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Mizzou chat with Dave Matter

Bring your Tigers basketball, football and recruiting questions, and talk to Mizzou beat writer Dave Matter in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Thursday.

    Greetings, chatters. I'm here for the next couple hours to talk all things Mizzou and college sports.
    If there’s college sports this year, is there a clear 1st string QB for Mizzou football or is it still a competition for that starting spot?
    I don't think there's a clear No. 1. If anything this break might help Connor Bazelak's chances. He wasn't going to be able to take part in every drill in the spring while he recovered from knee surgery, but with the way everything has unfolded the last month or so, the other QBs only got in three practices - and he was doing a lot of the drills along with them. 
    It's in everyone's best interest for the staff to thoroughly evaluate all the candidates from Robinson to Powell to Bazelak. I would think freshman Brady Cook is a long shot, but new staff, new system, everyone started fresh when Drinkwitz came onboard. At this point, he hasn't even fully installed his offense, so I wouldn't think they're close to sorting out the depth. They'll need some live scrimmages to fully get a read on who the best choice will be to run the offense. 
    I know there is a lot of disappointment in the men's team not getting any of the top transfers at this time, but I was wondering if you know if the women's team has one scholarship left and if they tried to bring in a transfer? Kentucky picked up two SEC transfers, Tennessee one player from Liberty and Ole Miss picked up 6'5" Shakira Austin out of Maryland. Did Missouri go after any of those transfers?
    The women's team landed a point guard commitment from Spain a few weeks ago but they haven't announced any signings. Women's basketball gets 15 scholarships per team. Mizzou has nine returning players, which includes the three transfers, and signed two more high school players, Jayla Kelly from St. Louis and Sara-Rose Smith from Australia. That's 11 players. So, obviously there's room to add more. Pingeton is meeting with reporters today for a Zoom press conference. I'm sure she'll address where the roster stands.
    Hopefully things can get back to some sort of normalcy soon. What coach (all sports) on the Mizzou payroll do you feel may be in the most hot water coming into 2020-21?
    I won't say none ... but I'm tempted to say none. And that's because of the dreadful financial situation Mizzou might be facing. Remember, MU has operated at a budget deficit three years running and now faces ...
    1. A $10 million shortfall from the football postseason ban.
    2. Untold millions more if the 2020 football season is delayed/shortened/canceled.
    The easy answer to your original question would be Cuonzo Martin. If MU has another losing season, a school in normal financial circumstances might be tempted to pay his massive buyout ($6 million) to cut ties and start fresh with a new coach. BUT such a move might be impossible to pull off depending on what happens over the next few months and later this fall. 
    Otherwise, I don't see any Mizzou coaches who are at risk of losing their job based on performance alone. Pingeton, Bieser, Smith are all safe. Drinkwitz, Grevers, Anderson, Taylor are in their first or second year at MU. Most of the other non-revenue sports are competitive. The women's tennis coach just stepped down. My sense is MU might have made a change there and he knew it was better to find another job somewhere else. 
    Good morning, Dave.

    In my opinion, there are going to have to be major, major reductions in the expense budget for Mizzou and most other NCAA schools.

    Recently read that a school (can't remember which one) lost $22.9 million last reporting year on sports other than football and basketball. College athletics is big business. What big business sells products that lose millions of dollars each year after year?

    Knowing there are SEC and NCAA rules and Title IX rules.............is it now time for Mr. Sterk and Mon Choi to begin eliminating "Olympic" sports from the Mizzou athletic budget? Also, do you foresee football and basketball coaches taking meaningful reductions in salary/bonuses?

    Thank you.
    The non-revenue sports have always cost more than they generate. MU does not begin each fiscal year expecting gymnastics or wrestling or track to make more money than they spend. MU knows football and to a lesser degree men's basketball bankrolls the rest of the department. That's just reality and always has been. This potential loss of football revenue for 2020 underscores how titled the balance sheets are in college sports. Like you say, one solution might be cutting sports. I don't think that needs to be the first option. Athletics departments can trim a lot of fat without gutting an entire program. For one, stop spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on search firms to hire Kim Anderson or Barry Odom. Stop giving football assistants massive, massive raises after six-win seasons. Stop revamping facilities every couple years just because Alabama revamps its facilities. Some of MU's non-revenue teams have been the school's most consistently excellent teams (wrestling, volleyball, swimming). It would be a horrendous shame to shut those programs down so you can pay a first-year football coach $4 million a year ... when the entire wrestling program costs about $2 million a year to fund.
  • Dejulius just announced that he's going to Cincinnati. I don't think we ever had a chance at Christopher, so while it's disappointing it's probably unfair to lump that into the misses this week.

    If Martin can't sign anyone else where does this recruiting class rank in the recent history of mizzou basketball? For an incumbent coach I can't think of any worse in my 25 years of watching.
  • I imagine they'll add at least one more piece. Martin won't necessarily use all 13 scholarships. If they only had one scholarship, Reed Nikko's spot, and didn't lose two freshmen, a one-man class wouldn't look so bad because the team only had one scholarship available. But now that there's room for at least a three-man class, then, yes, it's not going to stack up favorably if Jordan Wilmore is the only addition. Depending on what the three NBA draft guys ultimately decide, the major concern shouldn't be for 2020-21. It's the following year where things look grim.
  • I was curious your take on the transfer-non-transfer Justin Turner who decided to stay at Bowling Green. Could this lead to a trend of students testing the waters by throwing their name in the transfer portal, and then having coaching staffs spend a LOT of time and money wooing them only to decide, “Nah, I’m good”. Seems somehow broken to me.
  • How much money did Mizzou spend on Turner? He never visited. They communicated with him remotely. 
    Everything about this place and time in college sports - recruiting especially - is unconventional. I haven't talked to Turner since he made his decision, but I would think committing to any school site unseen would be a really difficult choice. And there's no telling when transfers would be able to move to their new campus. Maybe not until the fall. So, I wasn't shocked when he decided against leaving a decent MAC program that's on the cusp of making the NCAA Tournament. 
    Big picture, I think the bigger concern for the NCAA and college teams is the latest trend of high school prospects passing on college altogether in favor of the G League. We're still a few years away from a possible rule change to allow high school kids to make the leap to the NBA, but the G League (and overseas contracts) are becoming a more trendy alternative. That's a problem for college basketball. 
  • Dave, even with Mizzou missing out on the biggest targets they had...there’s still over 700 PLAYERS still in the transfer market. I’m sure several of those guys could come in and help this team. Any names you’ve heard that Mizzou might have some interest in?

    Any word on what Cartare Gordon is doing now? Highly ranked kid that went to SLU and DePaul and didn’t work out...
    There are reasons Gordon can't find a long-term Division I home. Super talented big man. There's baggage that some coaches don't want to deal with. 
    There are a few more transfer options who have been connected to Mizzou. One is Hawaii point guard Drew Buggs. More of a pass-first point. Another one is UNLV's Jonah Antonio. He's a 6-5 wing from Australia. Not sure there's much of a chance there. I'd look into Oklahoma's Jamal Bienemy. A bigger combo guard.
    Time to plug my Best of Mizzou series. The countdown resumes Friday with No. 10 in both the print edition and online. (Just got off the phone with the player we'll profile. Great interview.) Then we'll dive into No. 9 on Saturday and keep going every day until we hit No. 1 on April 26. These have been a lot of fun to write and have sparked  lot of positive feedback from readers. Hope you've enjoyed.
    Are there anymore transfers or uncommitted high school players on Mizzou's BB radar?
  • I just tossed out a few potential transfer names. The high school market is pretty dry this time of year, but Martin is always willing to take a flier on someone off the radar.
    Why has Martin struggled with recruiting at Mizzou? When we hired him I thought that was his strength.
    Fair question. He didn't struggle initially and really hasn't struggled to land players until the past nine months or so. Retaining his top recruits has been more of a challenge lately. Last year's class included two players ranked in the top 175 (Jackson, McKinney), but both left the team. McKinney wasn't a great fit in the locker room. Jackson didn't fit into the plans on the floor. Is that bad recruiting or bad player development? Both arguments can be valid.
    The year before, Mizzou signed a local four-star player (Watson), a promising three-star who became a productive starter (Pinson) and added two high-profile transfers (Mark & Dru Smith). That's a quality class.
    The big misses have been the local St. Louis players who signed elsewhere. Liddell, Ramey, Love, Fletcher. That's a concern. A big one for now. Less of one if the program can thrive with the players they instead signed. But for now, yes, the recent results should raise concerns. 
    Any idea on when the Michigan transfer is going to make a decision on where to transfer?
    David DeJulius chose Cincinnati shortly before we started the chat.
    Is it feasible that every employee of the University making above say $100,000 donate say 2% to the sport budget?
    Why not? I make less than that and will miss out on two weeks of pay, so I would think it's possible for Mizzou employees. 
    As I reported earlier this week, 20 members of the athletics department, staff and coaches, have been asked to take part in the university's salary-cut reductions. President Choi is taking a 10-percent cut from May to July. AD Jim Sterk is among those who will take the cut. MU hasn't disclose the names of those on the list of 20 but could release who decides to take the cut. They have until next Tuesday to decide. 
    Hi Dave! I’m really enjoying reading your top 30 athletes articles. Question: as you reveal your top 10, what criteria did you utilize in your analysis? For example; did you take into consideration these athletes impact/contributions after their time at Mizzou or did you just evaluate their contributions during their time at Mizzou? Thanks!
    Here's what I've written in terms of criteria: 
    "This was an exercise in subjectivity. There was no mathematical formula or calculation to compute the rankings. I took into account statistics, broken records and All-America accolades, but when it came time to rank the contenders from No. 1 to 30, these two open-ended questions guided my compass:
    1. Who achieved the highest level of greatness in their time at Mizzou?
    2. Who had the greatest impact on their team’s success?
    Athletes who thrived over longer stretches carried more weight than one-year wonders, but for some, true greatness was captured in one season or a collection of moments. Here’s the hard part: It’s one thing to rank athletes from the same sport, but it’s no simple task to compare an athlete who thrived in an individualized event, like long-distance running or the shot put, against a player whose production relies on the contribution of others, like a quarterback or a point guard. In those cases, being there to witness and chronicle the moments first-hand proved especially valuable. Greatness isn’t always easily defined, but it’s easy to spot when you’re watching history unfold."
    What I didn't mention there was post-Mizzou career. I tried to measure each athlete solely by what they did in college, mostly because in my top 10 there's a couple athletes just starting their pro careers and in their young 20s ... and a few more past 40 or pushing 40 who have been retired from competition for years. BUT ... it's impossible to completely ignore some of the post-college feats these men and women have achieved. For example, total hypothetical here (wink, wink), but you can't just completely dismiss the fact if someone won multiple Cy Young awards. So, short answer, post-Mizzou success didn't guide my rankings but for some candidates, it's part of their narrative. 
    This may be recency bias, but it certainly seems like Drink and his staff are much more out there than Odom and his staff in the social media space. It seems like most of Drink's staff is using Twitter and Drink is doing things like the chat with Chase. Do you think this is intentional on Drink's part or just in part due to him and some of his staff being younger?
  • It's definitely intentional on Drinkwitz's part, but social media has always been relevant since he started his college coaching career. He hasn't had to adapt to the technology because it's all he's ever known. But he definitely uses it to his advantage. 
    The sports shutdown is opening new avenues for athletes and coaches to connect with fans via technology and I give Chase Daniel a lot of credit for jumping all over this trend. 
    I know this is a long shot, likely, but any chance that the one of the games in the future Mizzou-Illinois football series is played at Busch Stadium (or the dome if it ever sees any sort of renovations)? If I recall they have 2, 4-year agreements to play with a 2-year break in between the games. There was some chatter a couple years back of Mizzou and Arkansas State potentially playing at Busch but Arkansas State pulled out from that idea. With the Arch Rivalry in basketball being played at a neutral site in St. Louis every year, would there be any potential to a game between the teams being played in St. Louis?
    At the time when the first Illinois series was announced (2026-29) MU was open to playing some of those games on a neutral field in St. Louis, but nothing has been made official. St. Louis would love to have that game. As always, it will come down to what makes the most sense financially for both schools.
    I was re-reading old articles from when Martin was hired and if I'm correct we can cut his buyout in half if we also fire Sterk. Is that correct? It seems clear that recruits don't want to come to Mizzou because Martin will obviously be gone before their junior year - that has to have been mentioned by Prohm and Brannen et al when talking to Dejulius.

    With so much stink on the Mizzou program and as you put it "grim" prospects for 21-22, doesn't it make sense to get rid of Sterk and his second mis-hire and save some money in the process. Chris Jans just brought on CJ roberts after leading NM state to 3 straight conference titles. Let's get that guy.
    You have some clauses in Martin's contract confused. The clause about firing Sterk only affects how much Martin owes Mizzou if he leaves on his own - not if he's fired. Here's the clause:
    "If Jim Sterk is terminated by the University as the Director of Athletics any time prior to April 30, 2022, the above amounts payable by Employee to University shall be reduced by 50%. For example, if Sterk is terminated by the University on May 2, 2020, and Employee terminates the Contract for Employment without cause, total liquidated damages would be $1,500,000 (instead of $3 million.)
    Is Cuonzo Martin on the bubble of, or already is on, the “hot seat”. I know his teams haven’t exactly lived up to some of the expectations of fans, so is there any merit to the next season being a “contract” year for him. What would be a record or outcome next season that would potentially put his job in jeopardy, or what would result in him keeping his job. I know this is hypotheticals which I believe recalling you’re not too fond of doing but I assumed someone like you may have some idea of these scenarios.
    Any hot seat talk for any coach is tempered by the fallout from any more loss of games/revenues from COVID-19. That's not to say every coach has guaranteed security no matter what happens on the court or the field of play, but Missouri is already in a bad situation financially - and not in shape to pay Martin $6 million to walk away.
    Hi Dave--hope all is well with you and that you and your family are staying safe. With Mizzou 🏀 not having won an NCAA Tournament game in 10 seasons now, with all the bad news the last couple of days of talented top recruits & transfers having us on their list of finalists but ultimately spurning Mizzou, with half-empty Mizzou Arena on most game days & nights, with a coach like Cuonzo Martin whom I thought for sure was the perfect hire for this particular program at the time for a multitude of reasons and really thought long-term he would prove to be our best basketball coach since Norm --and when a guy like him who's been successful everywhere he's been thus far can't get the job done at Mizzou...is it an exaggeration to say that the Mizzou hoops program is stuck in an "era of darkness" similar to that of the football program from 1984-1996, '99-'02?
  • Yes, I'd say that's an exaggeration. MU is three games under .500 the last two seasons. Injuries have depleted the rotation both years. I still thought this past year's team underachieved, but I wouldn't put the current state of the program on par with what the football team endured during those dark periods.
  • Is Booches & Trops still open?
    Booche's is doing takeout. We've picked up burgers a couple times the last few weeks. Not sure about Trops. Not in my rotation these days.
    And Dave also wanted to add a note thanking you for your phenomenal work on your Best of Mizzou series. I'm actually behind and got some catching up to do on it, but have absolutely loved it and look forward to seeing if your eventual #1 choice will be the same as mine! 😄Thank you again Dave.
    "The high school market is pretty dry this time of year, but Martin is always willing to take a flier on someone off the radar."

    That's the main problem with Martin's recruiting strategy. Santos, guess, okongo, wilmore - one every year so far and I'd be surprised if they had 100 minutes combined. I don't fault him for going after Caleb Love, but the back up plan needed to be Kalkbrenner or Bradford not Wilmore.
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