Greetings, chatters. National signing day has come and gone. Mizzou men's basketball season continues to slog along. (The women's team is doing anything but slogging.) Let's talk about all of that and more. I'll be here for the next two hours.
Missouri offered only six area recruits, not all 30. There's not a kid in the area or the country who chose South Dakota over Missouri. MU missed out on three kids from the Illinois side of the border and three from the St. Louis side. They're not happy about the local results, but the staff has moved on to 2018, which is far more important than the 2017 class, which had some nice players but no game-changers other than Epenesa, who was a lock to go to Iowa all along. (His dad's alma mater) and, possibly, Jeff Thomas, who never seemed genuinely interested in going to Missouri. Did Lovie beat Odom for the two local kids? He sure did. But overall, by my count sifting through offer lists, Missouri and Illinois went head to head for 10 players (recruits who had offers from both schools). Mizzou signed six, Illinois signed four. You don't spike the football with results like that, but it's not exactly accurate to say Lovie cleaned up in recruiting compared to Missouri. Rivals has the two classes tied at No. 48 nationally. ESPN ranked Missouri's class No. 54 and Illinois No. 55.
As for Rey Estes, the East St. Louis QB, Missouri coaches were more than happy to land Taylor Powell, who they genuinely believe can be their starting quarterback at some point. They didn't believe the same about Estes.
Missouri's basketball team spent 10 days in Italy just last summer. What's the difference? College basketball teams have been making overseas trips like this for years. Norm Stewart took the Tigers to Australia one year. The NCAA allows hoops teams to take an overseas trip once every four years. Harbaugh is clever enough to work the rulebook to his favor. I commend him for figuring out ways to outfox the competition. As long as TV networks and boosters are willing to give these college programs the millions of dollars they pile up every year, who's to tell the coaches how to spend that money?
Lovie has made Illinois relevant. But another 4-8 season for the Illini will wear off the shine. Let's not pretend Illinois just signed a top 20 class. The reason what Lovie is doing looks so good - and why he's getting lionized by some media types - is because that program was run so poorly before he arrived. He's done a nice job reviving the energy in Champaign and changing some attitudes about the program, but his class ranked 10th in the Big Ten. Still lots of room to grow. The same applies for Missouri. Recruiting rankings are hardly infallible, but they give you a snapshot of the caliber of players you're adding compared to your peers. Generally, if you aren't bringing in elite talent compared to the other teams in your league, you better have elite coaches who can get the most of personnel. Bill Snyder doesn't put up flashy recruiting rankings but he wins lots of games because he's a great coach. I think Missouri can continue to build something and become more competitive in the SEC East, but Odom can't afford to miss on too many players he signs and has to hit on some unheralded players.
They have an entire defensive staff that coaches the defense, never just one guy. Odom plans to call the plays; the entire defensive staff will build the gameplan each week, as it did last year.
There is some truth to this. When you look at, say, the classes that are ranked between 35-50, you're really splitting hairs on a couple kids here and there.
Nate Anderson has three years to play two seasons (which means he has a redshirt year available). Rashad Brandon has three years to play two. Yasir Durant has four to play three. Both Maik Young and Walter Palmore will have just two years to play two.
The university, the taxpayers and tuition bills aren't funding these trips. Blame the Michigan boosters and the Big Ten revenue. Michigan's athletic department made $152 million in revenue last year, according to USA Today's annual survey, and barely one-tenth of one percent of that came from the university coffers. Spending in college athletics is beyond insane, but the athletic departments are multimillion dollar corporations that work independently of the university. They share logos and use their students as employees.
Hilton needs to get stronger and become a better tackler. There's no doubt. But he's the best athlete back there. He's got the instincts. He just needs to hit the weight room and learn the position more. I thought Perkins was the best of the bunch last year and I think you'll see a lot more of him this year. As for the entire defense, I'm not sure it can be worse than what we saw in about half the games last year. They'll miss Harris up front, Scherer in the middle and Penton on the outside, but they're going to have more depth up front - unproven depth but more bodies. Surely someone out of his recruiting class will develop into a playmaker. Some guys are going to have to emerge at linebacker. Terez Hall? Brandon Lee? Maybe one or both of the freshmen play. The staff wants to be bigger at corner. Penton and Gibson made some plays but got exposed on jump balls. Acy and Holmes offer bigger bodies there.
I'm not sure how all of that works. I would imagine it differs from state to state, and I imagine private schools like Duke have different policies and standards. Coaching salaries are ridiculous, but I don't begrudge anyone for making a salary that someone is willing to pay them.
The way the coaches talked yesterday, I think you can expect one or both of the freshman running backs to play. They really love Larry Rountree. He'll add a physical component they don't get from the current backs. Crockett, Witter and Strong are the top guys going into spring practices, but they'll need a fourth. I'd expect Rountree to be the frontrunner. As for the defense, I think we learned a year ago this time not to get too caught up in expectations for an entire unit. Going into 2016, most figured the defense would be strong and the offense would struggle again. The exact opposite happened. The offense appears loaded for 2017, but one year doesn't automatically fade into the next. You're going to see a lot of new faces on defense. Either newcomers or guys who played small roles last year who will have to play more snaps this year. New starting corners. New D-linemen. A new linebacker or two. Kaleb Prewett, the K-State transfer, will be in the mix at safety. Hard to base a really strong opinion on how a group is going to play before we see it in action.
Let's assume everyone is healthy and recovered from last year's injuries and there are no more roster defections. At D-end, Frazier has to start. On the other side, Spencer Williams or Nate Howard, but they'll have to hold off Nate Anderson. Redshirt freshman Tre Williams will be in the mix, too. At D-tackle, Beckner starts at one spot. Logan returns as a starter, but he'll get competition from the jucos: Palmore, Young and Brandon. Utsey plays as a reserve. A lot is going to hinge on those transfers.
To quote the great Dave Steckel, way past, dude.
It's a valid point. I looked back at the 2007 class, Pinkel's class from 10 years ago. The highest rated players were: Michael Keck. He played one game, transferred to Missouri State, retired form the sport early and tragically died a few years ago. Obviously, didn't live up to his ranking. Then you had Andy Maples, a hyped juco D-lineman. He never played in two years at MU. Next, Derrick Washington was a really good running back but obviously had his legal issues. From there, QB/safety Gilbert Moye (never found a position and transferred) and O-lineman Jayson Palmgren (decent player, became a starter). On the other hand, here are some far less celebrated players form that class: LB Andrew Gachkar, an All-Big 12 player by his senior year who's still in the NFL; OT Elvis Fisher, a four-year starter when healthy; CB Carl Gettis, OG Austin Wuebbels, Dominique Hamilton. All those guys were productive multiyear starters who didn't command much attention at all on signing day. So, a gentle reminder to pump the brakes a bit the first week of February.
The regular season finale is March 4 at Auburn followed by at least one game in the SEC tournament the next week in Nashville. There's no valid reason to expect a coaching change until then.
I think Taylor Powell will have a legit shot at competing for the job with Micah Wilson. Heupel absolutely raved about Powell yesterday. And Josh isn't a guy to gush over a player. He said they spent hours watching film on his official visit, which is exactly how Heupel spent his official visit with Mike Leach at Oklahoma 18 years ago. He said he's never recruited a quarterback with his knowledge of offenses/defenses.
They will move pretty quickly. Odom is not necessarily hiring a DB coach. One option: Ryan Walters might coach both safeties and cornerbacks. You might see some reshuffling with the linebackers. A new coach is hired to coach either inside linebackers or outside linebackers/edge rushers.
Wife and Baby Will are doing well. He just turned six months. He'll be asking for the car keys soon enough. The spring signing period for basketball begins April 12. Missouri will have at least two spots to sign recruits: Russell Woods' scholarship and the one left by Willie Jackson's departure. Whoever is coaching the Tigers on April 1 I would think will look to fill those spots some time this spring and summer. Missouri might want to get into the grad transfer market for some immediate help.
Yes and Missouri would not field a competitive team with only Missouri players. The state just doesn't produce enough Power 5 talent to make that possible. Getting in-state players is good for PR, but in years like this when the local talent isn't all that impressive in quality or quantity, you can supplement your local losses with out-of-state gains. Danny Heitert, whom readers know I respect a lot, believes at least two of Mizzou's signees would be the state of Missouri's highest rated player at their respective position: DT Whiteside and OLB Miller.
I've been called much worse, but I don't recall expressing any opinions on Anderson's fate in print, mainly because I just don't think in terms of opinions when I write because I'm not a columnist. Either last year or the year before I wrote a lengthy piece that detailed all the crummy aspects of the program that Anderson inherited ... but a lot of time has since passed, and the roster no longer wears the fingerprints of Haith or Fuller. This was billed as Anderson's first full roster - and the team has gotten worse by most measures. Will they win another game? I see only three real chances left: the nex three home games against Arkansas, Vandy and Alabama. All three teams are better than Mizzou but if you catch them on a bad night and Missouri shoots well from 3, maybe they get that elusive SEC win. Maybe.
She's done a great job with this team, especially over the last three weeks. Her team isn't overly talented or deep, but her players have clear roles and identities. And they're tough as hell. She just got a big raise. Can MU afford another big raise? I'm not sure she's looking to leave any time soon, not with Sophie and Porter only sophomores.
To quote Andy Hill, you can't touch what you can't catch.
Reasonably optimistic. I think this team can win six games, maybe seven. We have to know more about the defense. Can the offense take its play to another level? Yards are fine. How about some points when you need them? Can they compete offensively against really good defenses? Fortunately for MU, there aren't multiple elite defensive teams on the schedule. You've got Florida and ... who else? Auburn made some strides defensively this year but they're not as good as LSU was last year. Georgia always has potential because of its athletes. South Carolina? They were decent defensively? Kentucky? The same. Missouri's offense has a lot to prove next year.