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. Glad to be back after I was away last week. I'll be here until 1 pm. Let's get this started right away.
    There are stories about phased-in returns and workouts, and season-ticket holders are hearing from the athletics departments. But no one is coming out and saying we're playing college football this fall/ Will they? Is there a timeline?
    Here's what Eli Drinkwitz said yesterday, "Everything I've been told, and the direction I've been given from not only our athletic director, but the commissioner of our league is that we're planning on playing September 5. That's our mindset until something changes." The plan is to play college football. That's the intention. The workouts are scheduled and will ramp up to the first week of the season with the idea that games will be played. Ultimately, the virus and the management of the virus will dictate if there's a season, if it will start on time and if it will be completed.
    Let's say there will be a season. We're about to hit July and we know next-to-nothing about our quarterback? Or quarterbacks? Could you bring us up to speed?
    There are five quarterbacks on the roster. It's a race, as Drinkwitz said yesterday. Shawn Robinson, the TCU transfer with eight career starts; Taylor Powell, last year's backup who played some when Kelly Bryant was hurt and came in and led the game-winning drive at Arkansas; Connor Bazelak, who had a couple promising drives in his start at Arkansas but tore his ACL; freshman Brady Cook, who took part in spring practices. Jack Samsel is a freshman walk-on from Alabama. 
    Not much else to report. They only got in three practices during the spring. That's not enough for anyone to make any headway for the starting job. It'll be wide open when workouts kick into gear. Here's what Drinkwitz said about the QB situation yesterday:
    "We're excited about what each one brings to the table," he said. "I've not seen Connor do anything full speed. He’s recovering from his ACL tear in the spring and so not sure where he's at. I've been told he’s full (speed), but I've got no evidence of that. He’s done his three practices and did fine. Taylor Powell in three practices looked fine. Brady Cook looked like a kid who should have been going to graduation, which is absolutely normal and expected. Jack was learning the offense, too. So that to me is probably the biggest question mark on our football team right now and not a lot of answers for you on June 17 ... and won’t have any until I get our hands on them and do things which hopefully starts August 6. We’ll be able to do some live stuff where I can see them actually compete for the job."
    Did the baskeyball players that declared for the NBA come back to Mizzou or are they actually going pro ?
    They don't have to decide anything until Aug. 3. As of earlier this week, the three players had not submitted any paperwork to signal that they're coming back to Mizzou. I know earlier this spring Xavier Pinson made a comment on social media that he plans to return to Mizzou, but, again, nothing official in terms of documentation of his decision. I would be surprised if any of the the three stayed in the draft. That's by no means a guarantee that all three will be on the roster next season, but the staff went into the summer planning as if all three - Pinson, Mitchell Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon - will be part of the 2020-21 team.
    "How will history remember the Axel Okongo ERa at Mizzou?" Now that's funny. Where are they now: Gary Leonard?
  • He's here in Columbia. I believe he's a financial advisor.
    With Alex Okongo transferring out, are there any reliable whispers on if the hoops team already has someone in the fold to take that scholly?
  • Not that I've heard. I would be surprised if they take on someone for the 2020-21 season. Martin wants to play a smaller rotation next season. I could see the staff being open to taking a sit-out transfer who would then be eligible for 2021-22, but at this point I'd be surprised if they add a player for next year's rotation - unless there's some unexpected roster turnover this offseason.
    Excited about the lady tigers upcoming season; they should be an excellent team. Your thoughts on their season if they play.
    Things can't get much worse than last season. Lots of transfers in the mix who should be instant starters and impact players. You've got the two returning freshmen, Blackwell and Haley, who are the franchise players, if you will. Then some much-needed experienced reinforcements on the perimeter and inside. This team should have the potential to get back into the middle of the pack of a very good conference. Blackwell could be a preseason All-SEC choice.
    What is your gut feeling regarding how many people will be allowed in the stands to see football games this year.
    Considering Sterk has no idea, I'm not sure my gut is a qualified expert here. They're preparing for all different kinds of models, from 20 percent to 50 percent to full capacity. I would be very surprised if they allow 60,000 in the house. (I'd be surprised if there's even a demand for 60,000 for a home game this fall.) The point has been made many times lately, but in terms of weeks, we're nearly as close to the onset of the virus in America as we are to the start of the football season, which means a lot can still change between June 18 and Sept. 5.
    In a recent article you said 11 MU pitchers have been drafted in the first 5 rounds of the last 15 MLB drafts. Max Sherzer of course is the most successful of the bunch. Has any of the other pitchers made any impact in the majors?
  • Yes, Kyle Gibson has started 188 games for the Twins and this offseason signed a three-year, $28-million deal with the Rangers. 
    Aaron Crow was an All-Star for the Royals as a reliever before injuries forced him to retire.
    Nick Tepesch has pitched for four different MLB clubs.
    Matt Stites was a reliever for a couple years in Arizona.
    Rob Zastryzny pitched for the Cubs and now plays for Baltimore.
    Brett Graves has been a reliever with Miami.
    Reggie McClain made a couple starts for Seattle last year.
    Peter Fairbanks pitched for the Rangers and Rays last year. 
    Eliah Drinkwitz has to feel pretty good about the schedule going into his first year. Considering he hasn't had a lot of time to prepare his players for the new system, he has to be happy with one of the easier schedules in the SEC. Thoughts...
  • Easy is a relative term when it comes to an SEC schedule. Last year's schedule was supposed to be easy for Mizzou. And we know what happened. 
    There's nothing easy about playing road games at South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. Playing at Mississippi State won't be easy. Until Arkansas improves, it's always in Mizzou's favor to have the Hogs on the schedule, but remember that game moves from Columbia to KC this year. Road game at BYU won't be easy. 
    So, yeah, the Tigers don't have to play LSU, Alabama and Auburn and they get the fortune of hosting Georgia. But considering how average this team has been the last few years, I don't think they should be expecting many easy games. Missouri hasn't beaten Kentucky in six years. Florida and Georgia are legitimate playoff threats. Tennessee made big strides last year. Yeah, there's an early game against Vandy, but the Dores pummeled MU at the point of attack on both sides of the ball last year. 
    Since the spring season for college football was cut short, is there any chance that the NCAA or the SEC conference would grant teams extra practice time when practices start in August. In other words since they lost so much time in the spring, is there any chance they will give them some extra time to practice and prepare the players before the season starts?
  • Yes, that's already been decided. Here's what the NCAA Division I council approved:

    Teams that play their first game on Sept. 5 (Missouri included) may conduct up to eight hours of weight training, conditioning and film review per week (with not more than two hours of film review per week) from July 13-23. 

    From July 24 to Aug. 6, schools may conduct up to 20 hours of countable athletically related activities per week (not more than four hours per day) as follows:

    • Up to eight hours per week for weight training and conditioning.
    • Up to six hours per week for walk-throughs, which may include the use of a football.
    • Up to six hours per week for meetings, which may include film review, team meetings, position meetings, one-on-one meetings, etc.

    During this 14-day period, student-athletes are required to get at least two days off.   

    Then, starting Aug. 7, teams can have their regular 29 days of preseason practices. 

    I read somewhere that Ohio St is requiring its football players to sign a covid 19 risk waiver. I assume this will be standard operating procedure in college and maybe pro sports too, but if athletic departments are worried about liabilities of the disease and are concerned about financial liabilities first and health of their athletes second maybe it’s time to switch priorities and make sure players playing and fans attending are in a safe environment first before worrying about financial obligations after that. From the small sample of colleges who tested positive so far and pros like ezechial Elliot, I not all that confident that they have thing under control and looks to there is a very long path before everything is safe for all involved.
    It's still uncertain if these waivers/pledges have any legal binding. Schools don't want their athletes making poor decisions in terms of exposure. Can they truly control a college student 24 hours a day? That's impossible unless they're all housed in a bubble. And that's not happening. Athletes are going to contract the virus. They're going to spread the virus to teammates. Coaches are probably going to contract the virus. Hopefully the spread is minimal. The season will be at risk if players and schools don't take the guidelines seriously.
    Shemar Pearl is announcing at 2pm today and has Mizzou in his top 3. What would Mizzou be getting with the former Tiger commit?
    He's a big, rangy edge rusher. Listed at 6-6, 235 at junior college last season. He only had two sacks in 11 games, so he wasn't terribly productive in the one tangible stat for pass rushers. But he's always had a strong list of scholarship offers. We know Mizzou needs edge rushers. He'd bring experience to the position group.
    Are you hearing anything about potential changes on the FB field? Change in huddles, sidelines, etc, to try to distance. Unless everyone has radios in their helmets you have to be close to communicate. Can't do everything through hand and arm signals and sign boards.
    Mizzou hasn't had an offensive huddle since 2004, and Drinkwitz also runs a no-huddle offense. So that won't be an issue. Defensively, they might have to rely more on hand signals. I'm sure there will be some sort of internal guidelines for distancing on the sideline, either mandated by the NCAA or the SEC. I can't imagine that's a priority to decide three months before the season but surely something that the leagues and teams will discuss once we're closer to September. There has not been any announced plans to move to radio communication between coaches and on-field players like you see in the NFL.
    Any idea when we will know what the NCAA decides on the post season bans for softball and football?
  • The football team served its postseason ban. Maybe you mean softball and baseball? Earlier this week Jim Sterk said he didn't have an update on the bans. Mizzou's coaches still expect to be eligible for the 2021 postseason in those sports.
    Do you think the current effects of the pandemic will get schools or conferences to seriously look at their athletic expenditures long term? Or do you give them a couple years and it'll be like the pandemic never happened and the desire to have a big time winning program will override all logical thought?
    Would some of the non-power 5 schools benefit by dropping down to FCS?
    Great question. I think the smart ADs and the smart campus leaders will use this situation as a lesson and cut spending in certain areas where they now realize they don't need to spend as much and possibly be more conservative when it comes to maintaining their reserves. If college sports as we know it survive this period and go back to spending ungodly amounts of money on coaching contracts and buyouts and search firms, then there will always  be that peer pressure to spend, spend, spend. But hopefully for their sake some leaders out there will recognize the dangers.
    I haven’t heard any discussion about fan attendance at volleyball which starts about the same time as football.
    I haven't either. Probably too early in the summer for anyone at MU to have a grasp on what will be allowed or considered safe.
    I'm not trying to get Mizzou back in the Big 8/12, but how do you think the travel budget changed from then to now in the SEC? I don't know if big programs bus to closer locations or if most is done through chartered air now.
    For football and men's basketball and a few other sports, Mizzou has always chartered flights, whether that's in the Big 12 or the SEC. Some of the non-revenue teams were able to bus shorter distances in the Big 12, but it's all air travel now with a lot of those on commercial fights. In MU's final couple years in the Big 12, the athletics department was spending between $3.6 to $4.3 million in team travel. In the last fiscal year, MU spent $7.5 million on travel. That's more than double over less than a decade.
    Dave, what is the Mizzou stance on keeping Memorial Stadium clean. If you ever have been in the those restrooms they lack hygiene to say the least. Will Mizzou up their game on cleanliness? Thanks again for your good work!!
    I'm not sure about that. I imagine they will have to have some new sanitation guidelines in place.
    Who among the Missouri football players you've covered have the chops to coach on the collegiate level.
  • A handful already do. Jimmie Dougherty, Barry Odom, AJ Ricker. David Overstreet coaches in the NFL. I could see him doing well at the college level. 
    Robert Steeples will be on a college staff sooner than later. Any Power 5 team would be smart to put him on their staff. Lorenzo Williams and Will Franklin could do well on a college staff. 
    If Brock Olivo ever returns from Italy and wants to get into college coaching he'd be a great fit on the right staff. TJ Moe could coach. Chase Daniel, though he's gone on the record saying he doesn't want to coach. Once they're done playing professionally I think Markus Golden and Mitch Morse would make fantastic college coaches. 
    Your comment from earlier in this chat regarding filling Okongo's scholarship: "Not that I've heard. I would be surprised if they take on someone for the 2020-21 season."

    For a very intelligent journalist, you obviously haven't been paying attention - see KJ Santos, Christian Guess, Axel Okongo - Martin always claims he's ok not filling scholarships then ALWAYS fills it with an NAIA caliber player.

    Question: Did Martin scare off Okongo, or was it Axel's choice?
    I realize Martin has added some players late in the calendar in the past, but I've had multiple conversations with him in recent months about his preference to trim down the rotation. (Last year at this time he was talking about expanding the rotation. Now he's on the other end of the spectrum.) I don't know what happened with Okongo. He clearly wasn't in the plans to be an impact player. I don't believe he ever did an interview in his time at Mizzou.
  • Do you have an idea of how many athletes are back in Columbia? Do you have any access to them for phone or zoom interviews?
    A few football players have been available for Zoom interviews. We talked to Larry Rountree yesterday. MU is trying to have regular weekly availability for multiple football players/coaches through Zoom. The entire football team is back. Both basketball teams are allowed to be back for voluntary workouts. MU is phasing the other teams back into workouts over the next few weeks. Many athletes never left Columbia during the pandemic. They just couldn't use the team facilities unless they were rehabbing injuries.
    Do you feel like there's anyone on the Missouri football team besides LB Bolton that could make possibly make first SEC team.
    Larry Rountree if he gets back to 2018 form
    Tyree Gillespie if he stays healthy and doesn't get tossed for targeting
    Great article on Howard. I feel too often the athletes are only looked upon as jocks and you don't hear enough of their off the field success. It's great to hear about how much influence Pinkel had on him and how he applied it in real life situations. Football can be about so much more than X's and O's.
    I also appreciated your article about the players who are now coaching in HS.
  • Thank you for the kind note. And thanks for reading. I should pass along the column to anyone here who missed it this morning. For the next couple weeks I'm going to dip my toe in column writing on topics outside of the Mizzou realm.

    Matter: Former Tiger who touched community through his police work turns to high school coaching

    STLtoday.com: DeQuincy Howard, the new football coach at Roosevelt High, was on the front lines as a police officer during the Ferguson protests in 2014.
    What is your percentage for signing Shemar Pearl
    OK, friends. That's all for today. We'll chat again next week.
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