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, Mizzou chatters. A lot to discuss in the world of college sports. If you're just waking up from a four-day nap, 40 percent of the Power 5 decided not to play college football this fall. It's game on in the SEC (for now), and Mizzou opens football camp on Monday. We'll talk about that and a lot more for the next couple hours.
    New MLS team: St. Louis City SC
    Just a heads up on what to expect from Mizzou camp coverage: It's going to be a lot different than what you've come to expect for the last, well, if you've been following my coverage, the last 20 years. For the first time since I've been covering MU, all preseason practices will be closed to reporters because of the coronavirus. MU will make Drinkwitz and select players available for interviews on Zoom after select practices. 
    That means I won't see a single snap of practice and we'll have to rely on what the coaches and players have to say in terms of what's happening on the field. In other words, we'll hear the company line and won't have an independent viewpoint on what to expect when the Tigers take the field Sept. 26. All things considered, we're in the middle of a pandemic, and I'm thankful I have a team to cover, so you won't hear any complaints from me. These are unconventional times and they call for unconventional measures. I'll cover the team to the best of my ability leading up to the first game. 
    I noticed that none of the PD Super 30 countdown #15-30 list had committed to MU. I admit most on the list had not committed. I was under the impression that HCED was doing a decent job getting area recruits to commit to MU. I mist have missed the #1-14 list. Maybe he is doing better there.
    The St. Louis area rarely has more than a dozen Power 5 recruits in the high school senior class in one given year. If you look at the players in that No. 15-30 range, you don't see Power 5 recruits. These are mostly Division II, FCS and FBS Group of Five targets. You'll see the players Mizzou is recruiting once the list gets into the top 10. It's a daily countdown list, so the better players are at the end of the countdown.

    Bought your book about Mizzou facts, great book! The chapter about Norm Stewart, includes different opinions as to wether he retired , or was forced to do so. Your take?
    Thanks for picking up a copy and glad you enjoyed. At the time Norm insisted it was solely his decision. When I interviewed him for the book about 15 years later, he insisted he could still have coached a few more years. Maybe his perspective and his level of candor changed some over time. I think it's fair to say he was nudged into retirement or strongly encouraged to retire.

    Thank you for the chat. I asked you a while back if the arms race in college athletics will continue, after we get out of this mess, you said you believe it will, but considering that the arms race , has some responsibility for the the way COVID-19 affected college athletics, do you still believe we will see an arms race in the future?
    The pandemic is going to leave some long-lasting changes on the college sports world and schools are going to have to make major cuts in spending, some more than others. Maybe that will forever shift how schools spend money on sports, but however it shakes out there will always be brand-name college programs that make more money than other schools, merely because they have bigger and more committed fan bases. There will still be the haves and the haves-less, and the haves will spend money on things they don't need at a higher rate than the have-less schools do. But the future is really uncertain as to how deep the pandemic will cut into budgets and how schools will respond financially.

    One suggestion for reforming college athletics, is to make athletic departments , to what hospitals that belong to universities are, so no student athletes, just athletes , and connection between academics and athletics, your view?
    I'm not sure I follow your take here.

    How is Sophie Cunningham doing this season at the WNBA?
    Through nine games with the Mercury she's playing 19 minutes a game, up from 12 last year, scoring 6 points per game, shooting much better overall at 43 percent from the field, still only 31 percent from 3. Phoenix is plus-7 when she's on the floor, so that's a positive development. She has moved into the starting lineup lately, too. Phoenix really doesn't need her to be a prolific scorer, though she scored a season-high 15 points last night. She went into the season saying she needed to become the team's most versatile defender.

    Do you believe that with hiring of Kim Anderson, and the Norm Stewart statue, Mizzou and Norm Stewart has achieved closure? Because your book mentioned that after coach Stewart left his position, he wanted to help the new basketball regime, but didn’t get the opportunity to.
    Norm was honored to have the statue built. It was an important gesture for the new leadership regime to raise money and have it built. It coincided with Cuonzo Martin's hiring - and Stewart and Martin had a good meeting when Martin first came to MU and the two share mutual respect. Norm keeps himself busy these days and doesn't need Mizzou to give him something to do, but I've always gotten the sense he has closure with his time here.
    Is MIzzou testing players on a daily basis? The NBA and NHL bubble approaches appear to be working as I have not heard any positive cases and the games are going on without a hitch. MLB on the other hand with the non bubble approach has had 2 outbreaks. Our own home town team, the Cardinals, lead the league in positve cases and in games lost. SEC FB obviously cannot be played in a bubble.
    FB has much more contact on a single play than baseball has in a game(excluding brawls like the A’s had with the Astros). I understand the enormous amounts of TV money that SEC FB generates, but at some point in time when we get to the fork in the road, the powers that be are going to have to make a decision as to which is more important money or the general health and welfare of this country as a whole. the B1G10 and PAC12 have taken their stand. Looks like the SEC and ACC want to play. This surprises me since Florida and Texas have experienced increasing cases and deaths. My priority is to get this virus out of this country ASAP. I wish the SEC ood luck, but I am more concerned about getting the virus out than watching SEC FB this fall.
    No, college programs are not doing daily testing, Mizzou included. Mizzou tested every athlete before they were cleared to take part in offseason workouts on campus. I'm not certain, but the team planned to test every football player again before preseason practices begin. Obviously any athlete who's tested positive undergoes further testing before they can return to workouts. 
    As I wrote yesterday and today, Drinkwitz says the team's positivity rate is less than 3 percent, which is relatively very good, well below the state, county and national rates. None of MU's positive cases were transmitted during team activities at the team facility, based on the team's contact tracing. That's very promising. 
    Of course, the team hasn't had any contact practices yet. More cases could arise once teammates start tackling and blocking. The next test will be traveling and playing other teams. 
    The ACC, SEC and Big 12 are praying that the first couple weeks of the NFL regular season unfold without any outbreaks. If the NFL has a clean start, the college conferences will feel much better about moving forward. 

    You can you take us through the process of athletic departments taking loans to stay alive?
  • Not much has been reported on the topic other than what Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group reported a few weeks ago, that Pac-12 schools are working on securing 10-year loans to cover the lost revenue caused by the pandemic. I really don't know much more about the process. I imagine most schools have started to look into similar options. 
    Mizzou's athletics departments is already borrowing money from the university's account to cover lost revenue from the NCAA sanctions and football postseason ban. 
  • Dave

    A clarification about my previous question: athletics departments will become in a way what hospitals that belong to universities are, with employees that are employees of the hospital not the university, so you don’t need to have students just athletes, in that way you avoid academic scandals, and the AD can do whatever they want.
    That's a pretty revolutionary change. If we know anything about how college sports operates at a national level - incredibly slooooooooow to evolve - then any system that defines athletes as professionals and not amateur students is going to take a long time to unfold.
    When does the SEC grow up and stop purposely sticking it to Mizzou? "Hey, Tigers, yoiu need two more games, so here you go: Bama and LSU." This league freaking needed Mizzou to join it to have some semblance of an academic reputation. But it never lets up.
    I'll acknowledge Mizzou got two tough games, but let's step back and take a closer look at the situation.
    Mizzou already played two of the three worst teams in the SEC West in Arkansas and Mississippi State. The SEC wanted the schedules to balance out - and if you're playing two of the worst teams, you should expect to play two of the best teams in the additional games. Mizzou was always going to get either Alabama or LSU - and I wasn't going to be surprised if they got both.
    Here's another (reasonable) theory: The SEC wasn't looking to screw Mizzou. The SEC is looking to help LSU and Alabama. If you're playing 10-game schedules against only SEC teams, it's that much harder to produce one or two playoff contenders. The intraconference cannibalism could cost the league millions and millions of dollars if the SEC produces a bunch of 7-3 or 8-2 teams instead of at least one or two 10-0 or 9-1 teams. So, you protect the best teams with games against the worst teams. That's not to say Mizzou will have a terrible team in 2020 - but no one is going to pick the Tigers higher than Georgia, Florida or Tennessee in the East. And most will pick MU behind Kentucky, maybe South Carolina, too. 
    So, I understand why the schedules came out the way they did. 
    It could be worse: Arkansas plays every team in the SEC West - plus Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. (Mizzou, too.) 
    I also enjoyed the chapter in your book about Mike Alden. It seems that he did a lot of good things, but perhaps being in a role for too long is a detriment? As is kind of implied in chapter.
    Anyone who sticks around in a position like that - AD at a Power 5 school - is going to have their share of peaks and valleys. There are no perfect records for ADs who have longevity. Mike did a lot of great things for Mizzou, from hiring (and keeping) Gary Pinkel, maneuvering Mizzou into the SEC, major facility upgrades. He had his missteps for sure. The Snyder hire was widely praised at the time but the relationship went sour. The Mike Anderson hire was a success ... until the program lost momentum and later unraveled.
    Hi Dave, I don't envy you trying to cover a team you will not be able to see before the first game. I know you mentioned Zoom calls with select athletes and coaches but how will you develop any questions when you can't watch practice? How does that work? I'll hang up and listen.
    Great question. Stay tuned. Nobody is going to tell us they had a bad day of practice. They're not going to share depth chart moves or how certain players are being used in certain ways. It's a challenge for sure, but I'll adapt and make the most of it.

    Is there another “Johnny Football” type of quarterback in college football, and do you think he was kind of the last of his kind, because teams are moving more toward pro type of quarterbacks, and not the type that would scramble , and run all over the place. Do you think those types of quarterbacks are more great athletes than actual players that are great at using the playbook?
    I'm not sure I agree with your premise. Justin Fields is a great athlete who ran for nearly 500 yards last year at Ohio State. Jalen Hurts ran for 1,300 yards at Oklahoma last year. The year before that, Kyler Murray ran for 1,000 yards, won the Heisman and was the draft's No. 1 overall pick. Last year in the NFL, Lamar Jackson ran for 1,200 yards and was the unanimous league MVP. So, teams still like QBs who can run around make plays with their legs. The best ones - like Jackson and Murray - are also elite passers who are more than just fast athletes.
    All the attention right now is on football, but . . . what is the possibility that the college basketball season could get banged?
  • If conferences are able to pull off football season, then there's hope that basketball can be played safely. You might see the start of the season pushed back. Remember, the Pac-12 pushed back all sports through the calendar year, so no basketball this fall for its teams. There's talk of creating conference bubbles in college basketball to prevent virus spread. I'm not sure how that works with college athletes, but it might be the best solution for the teams. NCAA VP of basketball Dan Gavitt just had an interesting Q&A with the The Athletic, and it sure sounds like there'll be more centralized leadership within college hoops than what we're seeing in football. Hopefully basketball learns from the mistakes made the last few months when it comes to football.
  • How does sitting out the college football season impact incoming 2021 freshmen. Will scholarships rise if seniors wanna stay ?
    That's what the NCAA must decide. They've set a deadline for Aug. 21. The Division I Council has proposed that any fall athlete who opts out or has the season cut short because of COVID will receive another year of eligibility. The NCAA said yesterday it will discuss expanding scholarship limits. That will put financial stress on schools, but it will preserve a year of competition for players impacted by the virus. It could have a major impact on recruiting, too. Let's say a young star quarterback emerges at State U - then the season is cancelled after four or five games. State U has a QB recruit committed for 2021 who thought he might get to start in 2021 but now changes his mind after what he saw from the incumbent. In the long run, I think giving the impacted college athletes another year of eligibility is the right thing to do, but there will be some collateral damage.
    Big 12 wants to do troponin, echo’s and cardiac MRI’s. In a pandemic this sounds fiscally irresponsible even if college football makes money. I hope the SEC doesn’t make these bad medical reconnections.
    Why is it bad? Myocarditis is one of the major reasons conferences are concerned about playing sports in a pandemic. The Big 12 wants to have advanced testing to make sure infected athletes aren't being rushed back into competition. That sounds like a good idea to me.
    Any asst coaching changes in men’s b-ball?
    No. They will have new graduate assistants this year but the athletics department is in a hiring freeze. Hollender, Mann and Harris return as the three assistants. Porter Sr. moved to a different role last year (director of player development) and his contract was not renewed when it expired after the season.

    There is probably a certain type of balance that you need to have in your job, you need to have good relationships with people in the athletic department, to get information from them, but you also need to criticize them from time to time, or report some unpleasant staff, and risk a cold shoulder, how do you keep the balance?
    In my role as a beat writer, I'm not in a position to criticizer per se - that job is for the opinion columnists - but there are times I have to report things that the department would rather not have made public. 
    If you carry yourself like a professional and give the people you cover a chance to respond to anything you might report that's portrayed as a negative you build up equity and rapport and, usually, it all works out in the long run. I haven't had a great relationship with everyone who's worked at Mizzou, but more often than not I've developed a professional rapport with the right people so I can do my job the best I can without burning bridges. 
    You know someone had to ask it. Updated men’s football record prediction?
  • Normally I'd say let's see what the team looks like in camp first. But I won't see any practices, so ... 
    Wins: Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State
    Losses: Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky
    Looks like 4-6 to me with a decent amount of wiggle room. I'd say South Carolina, MSU, Tennessee and Kentucky are close to toss-up games. 
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