Howdy, chatters. I'm back from a couple weeks of vacation. Fortunately the Mizzou beat (mostly) behaved while I was away. Only two arrests and very little news otherwise. We're getting close to SEC football media days, which means we're getting close to preseason football camp, which means we're close to nonstop Mizzou football then hoops then spring football coverage through the the spring. The grind will start soon enough. Until then, we chat. I'll be here for the next two hours.
Mizzou's 1-2 punch is Crockett and Witter. Strong has a chance to be the third back, but he's not getting past Crockett and Witter. Crockett is a star in the making, possibly an All-SEC runner if he stays healthy. Witter will get lots of touches and might be a team captain. The staff loves him. One of the advanced metrics sites rated him as one of the country's best blocking backs last year. He was also an effective runner and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Strong had some productive runs in the Arkansas game, but he's no higher than No. 3 on the depth. It wouldn't surprise me if Isaiah Miller and Larry Rountree push for carries, too.
Good question. You have to rule out every position group on offense because I think there are moderately high to very high expectations for every position group on the offense. Missouri's defensive line doesn't return a lot of established impact players, but I'm not sure anyone would be surprised if the DL has a strong year. That leaves the linebacker corps and the secondary. The cornerback position has some upside but not much experience there. Lots of experience at safety and a handful of options there to provide some versatility. You're going to see more combinations back there based on matchups and down and distance. Maybe that core back there has a chance to surprise. I'm high on the potential of Perkins and Hilton - and whether he's a safety, nickel or outside backer, Kaleb Prewett will be an impact player, unless the spring was just a mirage.
I don't think there's anything wrong with the St. Louis kids. Some of them want to go to college outside of the state - like STL kids have always done. The most important recruits in St. Louis haven't committed anywhere yet. We'll see what happens with Babb, Thompson, Perkins and Trout. Those are the most important targets for Mizzou - and not necessarily of equal importance for the 2018 class. I do think Missouri has a greater burden of proof with the STL kids than other out-of-state programs, but that's the tradeoff for having better proximity to them.
Because it's incredibly rare for a college player to average 25 points a game - much less a freshman. Yes, Durant did it. Yes, MPJ's skills and size compare favorably to Durant. But that doesn't mean he's going to parallel his production. Wouldn't you agree that it's probably a safer bet to assume MPJ is a good or very good scorer but not necessarily a better scorer than one of the greatest players in the game's history? Also, this team should have some other capable scorers. Durant had DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams, both double-digit scorers at Texas, but MPJ will also play with Jordan Barnett, Kevin Puryear, Kassius Robertson and Terrence Phillips, all guys who have averaged double figures in Division I - not to mention the other freshmen.
Thank you. Missouri fans should be pleased with Sterk. Aside from the fundraising, he's proven to be a man of action. Simply put, he gets stuff done. He's not consumed with ego or self-promotion, and his demeanor and management style seem perfect for what Mizzou needed and still needs in the climate.
It's not hard to win six games in college football today. Mizzou should win at least three of its four noncon games every year, if not all four. Then you need to win only two of your four home SEC games to qualify for a bowl. If that's unattainable you shouldn't join this league. If Missouri wins fewer than six games, then yes, there will be pressure on Odom going into 2018. And the schedule doesn't get any easier in 2018: Road games at Bama, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Purdue. As for this year, I haven't done my division predictions yet. (Ballots are due at SEC media days in two weeks.) I'm not sure I can rationalize picking MU higher than fourth in the East. Georgia has lots of talent coming back. Florida lost a ton on defense but has found ways to win the division the last two years. Kentucky is on the rise. South Carolina, too. I'm not sold on Tennessee being able to survive its loss of starpower, and Vandy doesn't get my blood pumping too much. Maybe Mizzou surprises everyone and makes a run at the East, but it's going to require much better play on defense - and special teams.
He would not be eligible for a discount, much less free tuition. Here's the university rule: If a parent has worked at MU for five years uninterrupted, his or her dependents are eligible for 50-percent discount on tuition. Porter Sr. hasn't worked at MU for five years continuously - he did from 2010 to 2016 but left for Washington - so, no discount.
Bill Self has to retire or take another job. I still believe that in the deepest depths of his heart he'd enjoy a game against Missouri for the pure competition and fan excitement, but he's drawn a line in the sand and he's not crossing it as long as he's coaching at Kansas.
Who says he's not designing the defense? He'll have a major role in game-planning and structuring the defense and working with Odom to make game-day decisions. If Odom sticks with his plan to have the final say on calls/coverages, that doesn't mean Cross won't be involved. Lots of offensive-minded head coaches call plays and still have coordinators who play large roles in the process.
I haven't put a lot of thought into that yet. I think you have to find room for more freshmen. Somebody's going to emerge as a star at Kentucky. Maybe it's Kevin Knox. Or Hamidou Diallo. Robert Williams at Texas A&M might challenge Porter for SEC preseason player of the year.
Spent a week in Colorado: Estes Park, Boulder, Vail, short stop in Denver. Good times in Rocky Mountain National Park. Lots of hiking, eating and drinking.
In that setting, most football coaches are intentionally boring and trying to make it through their session without saying anything interesting. Bielema is an exception, thankfully for those of us who write about football and coaches for a living. Kevin Sumlin can be thoughtful and colorful at times. Ed Orgeron could be entertaining, but in a group setting I imagine he'll be full of coachspeak - in his own dialect, of course.
Good question. I would be surprised if Missouri would decide to have a promotion that would alienate some of its supporters. If things were going great at Mizzou and there were sell-out crowds every night in the major sports then maybe the administration can have a promotion that's sure to unnerve some supporters. But right now, Missouri isn't really in position to make that kind of risk. (I'm not taking a personal stance here on whether Mizzou should or should not host a pride night for moral or ethical reasons, but looking at this more from a practical, business perspective. The Cardinals can afford to have a potentially divisive promotion because the stands are full at Busch Stadium most nights.)
Not to the same degree. There's always excitement for football season because with fewer games, you've got six weekends a year that are events for fans who come to town. And there's also always the chance that an out-of-nowhere season could unfold, like 2013. But is there a similar football buzz for the actual Mizzou team? Not at all. MU has sold 21K season tickets with two months to keep selling. MU got close to 40K last year and regularly eclipsed 40K in previous years. Maybe the buzz builds up once August gets here. A 4-0 or 3-1 start would surely help.
I would expect an answer later in July after the Peach Jam, which runs from July 12-16.
Our book will be released in late August/early September. We discuss some of the adjustments the staff had to make with the SEC move but didn't specifically touch on pulling out some of the Texas resources.
College Sports Fan Rule: You don't have to openly root for the rival but you cannot, CANNOT, root for them to have success.
Mizzou has never said Tilmon was suspended. Asked about Tilmon's status this week, Martin said, "He's with the team." The discipline has been handled internally. I don't think you throw the book at a kid for an MIP, but yes, you have to hold athletes accountable.