Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Well...THIS is something…

After I wasted a good portion of my weekend discussing something that probably wasn’t going to happen (and after Dave Matter was more than happy to point out that it probably wasn’t going to happen), well...it’s let’s just say that people outside of Missouri have now officially mentioned it.

In a Des Moines Register story Thursday, July 26, reporter Randy Peterson says the new Big Ten Network, to be activated this school year, may occasion a conference look at expanding to 12 teams.

"I think we need to look at it in the next year," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told Peterson, who cited possible contacts with Rutgers and Syracuse of the Big East.

But the REAL school the Big Ten is after, collegeBLITZ.com learns, is Missouri, a likely addition in some 3-5 years.

"According to what I'm hearing," one well-placed source said, "the Big Ten has already made the offer and Missouri is working to try to find ways to get out of its (Big 12) league commitments."
Now...I’m not going to pretend like this is anything but an Internet rumor, but...it’s the most substantiated rumor that’s hit the airwaves so far. And honestly...if the Big Ten’s goal is to add to their total TV markets, the only two true options are Rutgers (NYC) and Mizzou (StL and KC...really, the only one on the table who can bring in two different markets). Well...as I noted the other day, Rutgers’ facilities (and overall athletic department beyond football—for now—and women’s basketball) are not up to snuff...they're comparatively tiny. The conference already has one Northwestern. While this wouldn’t be as ballsy a move as the University of Toronto, it really does make sense.

Now...if there were truly an offer on the table (and again, this is only an Internet rumor from a website called College Blitz), would we accept? The more I think about it, the more I think the answer is yes. But there’s more to it than that. Whether we were to accept or not, getting an honest-to-god offer from the Big Ten would be huge because it would, for the first time, give Mizzou some leverage within the Big 12. The only way the Big 12 revenue sharing dilemma will be solved is if Mizzou (or somebody else in the conference, for that matter) had the ability to leave for greener pastures if things weren’t fixed.

But I shouldn’t waste any more words on this right now since we’re still dealing in rumors, but...yeah, this topic—for better or worse—ain’t going away any time soon.

(I should point out, though, that the thought of Mizzou playing Penn State—his favorite team growing up—every couple of years has The Beef peeing his pants. I’d imagine he’s already got a Happy Valley road trip planned in his head for 2014 or whatever.)


Mizzou Links, 7-31-07

  • Dave Matter decides that Baylor deserves some coverage too. Plus, he covers #11-13 in his Top 25 countdown.
  • Meanwhile, Matter's basketball counterpart at the Trib questions Dickie V's talent evaluation...blasphemer...
  • Congrats to Tim Jamieson, ABCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year! Needless to say, I strongly agree with this selection. Mizzou wasn't supposed to do anything this year.
  • Good luck to the 6 Mizzou swimmers (Bennett Clark, Bryan Difford, Jill Granger, Colleen Gordon, Lori Halvorson, and Jill Bastien) competing at the US National Championships. The competition starts today at IUPUI (Go Ooo-wee-poo-wee!).
  • Tyler Wilson, Mizzou's new #1 QB target, will decide on a school before his season starts. Meanwhile, a "top JUCO forward" names Mizzou his favorite.
  • And finally, this is a bit insane. As The Beef put it to me last night, Minnesota is now on the other end of a Herschel Walker deal. The Celtics are now a contender in the East, but their window of opportunity is about two years, max. Meanwhile, they traded away every single building block of the future. Knowing how much he liked Al Jefferson, I figured Bill Simmons would be pretty upset by all this...he's not. I realize that the NBA's different--trading away your future in a sports like MLB, with no salary cap, wouldn't make much sense--but in the NBA it's really really hard to build a young nucleus and keep all the cogs for years at a time thanks to the luxury tax and relatively short rookie contracts. Still, though, this deal would make me QUITE queasy if I were a Celtics fan. Ray Allen's got 1-2 years left in him and Pierce has about 165,000 miles on his tires (though he's somehow only 29).


Monday, July 30, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-30-07

  • Dave Matter discusses Chase Daniel and ranks the Big 12 teams, bottom to top. Meanwhile, on his blog, he mentions the latest round of Big Ten Expansion talk (he's taking it a wee bit less seriously than I did this weekend).
  • More bad recruiting news: Bonne Terre's Will Compton followed Blaine Gabbert's lead and committed to Nebraska last week. Leading to this recruiting year, we were hoping that the MU staff's tight relationship with Gabbert would lead to a chain reaction of commits from the top recruits in the state...but it looks like MU will only land 1 of Rivals' Top 5 in the state. One more reason to win and win big this season, eh?
  • Meanwhile, on the basketball recruiting front, Jeff Ermann at Inside Mizzou takes a look at the current 2008 recruiting board.
  • The Jets are happy with Brad Smith's progress at WR, so they're breaking him in at QB now. Very good for Brad...and for The Beef, whose Jets are 2nd to only Mizzou in his heart (unless the Jets are 1st?).
  • Speaking of former Tigers, Garrett Broshuis blogs! (Since the article didn't actually provide a link, here it is.)
  • Too bad skeet shooting's not a varsity sport...we'd sooooooo have ourselves a conference title!
  • Rest in peace, Mel Sheehan, Mizzou AD from 1972-78.
  • And finally, the University of Toronto's mascot? The Varsity Blues! That's fantastic! Now I really hope the Big Ten targets them for expansion!


Saturday, July 28, 2007

I guess this makes Round #139...

I perused some Big Ten blogs this morning to see what the prevailing opinions were, of both Big Ten expansion and of Mizzou. Expansion-wise, it appears that everybody pretty much acknowledges what this is about: money, money, money. The football coaches wouldn't want to add an extra game, it might break up some rivalries (like the Big 12 did for Nebraska-Oklahoma), et cetera. Actually, the humbly-titled Greatest Blog in the World had a couple other interesting points. I hadn't thought of this one:

4) Here are some more conference championship game issues:

a) Where do you play? The Big Ten boasts three of the four largest stadiums in college football, and nine of the top forty (including ND). As is only fair, you'd have to play at a neutral site, preferably one centrally located. Plus, playing in December in the Midwest, you probably need to play indoors. What are your options?

* Lucas Oil Stadium - 70,000 (Indianapolis)
* Ford Field - 65,000 (Detroit)
* HHH Metrodome - 64,035 (Minneapolis)

Now you've got lots of unhappy fans, because they can't get tickets since you sold your soul to the television. You've got a half-crowd of people who care, because everyone else is just there because they got free tickets from your corporate sponsors.
Of course, fan considerations won't matter at all with that much money involved, but it's an interesting point. It would almost make more sense money-wise if they were to play the championship game in Ann Arbor or Columbus or Happy Valley, and that would be...strange.

As for how Mizzou's regarded to Big Ten fans? Well...it ain't all that pretty. MGOBLOG summarized in a pretty common way:

PROs: Geographic fit with decent academics. Natural basketball rivalry with Illinois. Opens up Missouri, St. Louis.

CONs: Hasn't won anything in football since 1969. That won't change in the Big Ten. Basketball program mostly known for having gel-slicked cheater Quinn Snyder in charge for way too long.

Verdict: Meh.
Not entirely untrue, but not entirely fair either. Even though this opens me up to accusations that a) I'm thinking way too much about this, and b) I'm supporting leaving more than I actually am, I thought it would be interesting to look into where Mizzou would stand in the Big Ten.

Most of these numbers come from Wikipedia (where else?).


1. Ohio State - 51,818
2. Minnesota - 51,194 (had no idea it was that high)
3. Michigan State - 45,166
4. Indiana - 42,247
5. Penn State - 41,289
6. Wisconsin - 41,169
7. Illinois - 40,670
8. Michigan - 40,025
9. Purdue - 39,228
10. Iowa - 29,642
11. Missouri - 28,253
12. Northwestern - 13,407

Other candidates
Rutgers - 34,696 (would be 10th)
Pittsburgh - 32,105 (10th)
Iowa State - 26,700 (11th)
Nebraska - 21,792 (11th)
Syracuse - 18,247 (11th)
Notre Dame - 11,479 (12th)

Varsity Teams

1. Ohio State - 34
2. Penn State - 29
3. Michigan - 27
4. Michigan State - 25
4. Minnesota - 25
6. Indiana - 24
6. Iowa - 24
8. Wisconsin - 23
9. Illinois - 21
10. Missouri - 20
10. Purdue - 20
12. Northwestern - 19

Notre Dame - 24 (6th)
Rutgers - 22 (9th)
Nebraska - 21 (9th)
Syracuse - 18 (12th)
Pittsburgh - 17 (12th)
Iowa State - 16 (12th)

Football Stadium Capacity

1. Michigan - 107,501
2. Penn State - 107,282
3. Ohio State - 101,568
4. Wisconsin - 80,321
5. Michigan State - 75,005
6. Iowa - 70,585
7. Illinois - 69,249
8. Missouri - 68,349
9. Minnesota - 64,172
10. Purdue - 62,500
11. Indiana - 52,180
12. Northwestern - 49,256

Nebraska - 85,197 (4th)
Notre Dame - 80,795 (4th)
Pittsburgh - 65,050 (8th)
Syracuse - 50,000 (11th)
Iowa State - 45,814 (12th)
Rutgers - 41,500 (12th)

Basketball Arena Capacity

1. Ohio State - 19,500
2. Indiana - 17,456
3. Wisconsin - 17,142
4. Illinois - 16,618
5. Iowa - 15,500
6. Penn State - 15,261
7. Missouri - 15,061
8. Michigan State - 14,992
9. Minnesota - 14,321
10. Purdue - 14,123
11. Michigan - 13,751
12. Northwestern - 8,117

Syracuse - 33,000 (1st)
Iowa State - 14,092 (8th)
Nebraska - 13,595 (11th)
Pittsburgh - 12,508 (11th)
Notre Dame - 11,418 (11th)
Rutgers - 8,000 (12th)

Okay, so as a whole, Mizzou matches up (more or less) as well as any of the other candidates in these areas. What about actual performance on the field/court/mat?


Going by Phil Steele's pre-season ratings, here's where Mizzou falls:

1. Michigan (#5)
2. Penn State (#10)
3. Ohio State (#15)
4. Wisconsin (#16)
5. Missouri (#19)


Mizzou lost on the road to Purdue and on a neutral court (barely) to Illinois. They both finished 9-7 in conference last year, so my guess is that Mizzou would have been in the 6-10/7-9 range last year (good for about 9th place). With all their returnees, they could probably expect to be predicted in the #6-7 range in 2007-08.


Would have finished in the top 2 with Michigan in 2007.


Would have finished in the top 2 with Minnesota in 2007.


The Big Ten was more successful than usual in 2006, and with Mizzou in a slightly-rebuilding state (though they were one game away from the regional semifinals), they'd have finished around 4th or so. In a normal year, they could expect to finish in the top 3 with Penn State and maybe Minnesota.


Would have finished in the top 4 with Ohio State, Northwestern, and Michigan.

Women's Basketball

The Big Ten was weak this season, and Mizzou could have expected to finish in the 6-8 range, slightly better than their 10th place finish in the Big 12.

Other Sports

Missouri would be average or below average in other sports. They have some individual talent in track, X-country and golf, and they showed potential for a while in soccer, but they've trended downhill recently.

So basically, they'd be above average in football, average in men's basketball, top-notch in the second-tier revenue sports (baseball, volleyball, wrestling...though not women's basketball), and average to below-average in most other sports. In other words, they'd fit in pretty quickly.

UPDATE, 6:19: For the record, I love this idea.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Round #138 of Big Ten talk...

I was going to post this as a "Mizzou Links" item, but I think it grew out of that and into its own post. With the latest "Big Ten looking for a 12th team" talk, Mike Dearmond talked to Mike Alden about if Mizzou had been contacted. Here's a blurb from the article:

“We have eight states,” [Big Ten Commissioner Jim] Delany told the Des Moines Register Wednesday. “With expansion, you could have nine.”

Syracuse or Rutgers — seen as a scheduling partner with Penn State — would seem to fit that bill and are already the subject of strong speculation.

Nebraska has also been considered, in the not-so-recent past, as a possible target of the Big Ten.

Notre Dame, wooed unsuccessfully by the Big Ten in 1999, would not qualify as bringing another state with Indiana and Purdue already in the Big Ten. But Notre Dame’s national following certainly makes the Irish attractive.

Alden said any talk of Missouri and the Big Ten probably would come at the level of the system’s Board of Curators — if it comes at all.
I would have to imagine that if the Big Ten really did put out some feelers, they'd have to contact Syracuse, Missouri, maybe Nebraska, maybe Rutgers, and probably Notre Dame and Pitt even though they wouldn't add an extra state. With recent discussions of inequality in the Big 12, you have to think Missouri would at least listen. Would it go any further than listening and pondering? I'd put the chances at about 40%. There's an academic draw to the Big Ten, and let's face it, there might be better chance of both money and athletic success there for Mizzou.

Predictably, this has also been the source of discussion on Big Ten message boards. A buddy of mine from Michigan State sent along this thread from Spartan Tailgate. I only bring it up because it's interesting to read the level of skepticism about Jim Delany. It appears that quite a few Big Ten people aren't totally sold on the Big Ten Network idea, nor are they sold on Delany. Delany's a polarizing figure, but from an outsider's perspective, I sure wouldn't mind my conference having what he's brought to the table. But it's worth looking into the reasons for skepticism, especially if Mizzou fans are going to be re-running the "Big Ten?" debate over the next few months (or years). MGOBLOG had this to say about some Delany statements last month:
A couple emailers have passed this along but they didn't need to, since the Big Ten actually sent me this email they blasted out to apparently everyone from actual newspapers to two-bit bloggers:



“Comcast recently has characterized events that will be on the Big Ten Network as ‘second and third tier.’ I believe Comcast owes every Big Ten university an apology. The comments are an insult to Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin: To the universities, their students, their fans and alumni and their communities. There are no second-rate contests in the Big Ten.”
I... what do you do with that? Comcast has a tough-talking guy who correctly characterizes most of the sports on the Big Ten network as uncompelling, so the Big Ten throws a public hissyfit and demands an apology? Is Jim Delaney a fifteen-year-old girl? Is he having a super sweet sixteen party later?
Delany is a bit, shall we say, reactionary? Sensitive? Crazy? Here's more from The Hoosier Report:
Unfortunately, this is just the latest public statement by the commish that casts doubt on his fitness to lead a major conference. Let's not forget, just months ago, this ridiculous broadside against the SEC, including:
I love speed and the SEC has great speed, especially on the defensive line, but there are appropriate balances when mixing academics and athletics. Each school, as well as each conference, simply must do what fits their mission regardless of what a recruiting service recommends. I wish we had six teams among the top 10 recruiting classes every year, but winning our way requires some discipline and restraint with the recruitment process. Not every athlete fits athletically, academically or socially at every university. Fortunately, we have been able to balance our athletic and academic mission so that we can compete successfully and keep faith with our academic standards.
First, it's idiotic for a conference commissioner to issue any sort of statement, snippy or otherwise, to serve as a self-described response to "recruiting services and talking heads." Second, why impugn an entire conference? No one will soon confuse the SEC with the Patriot League, but our fine league, which I think is great, has had its share of black eyes in the last decade. The scandals involving the Michigan and Minnesota basketball programs were among the most breathtaking in the history of the sport. The disclosures about the class loads of Andy Katzenmoyer and Greg Oden make one wonder whether the typical Buckeye is getting anything approximating a college education. To be fair and balanced, one could note that one of the few Big Ten programs that has never been found guilty of an NCAA "major violation" hired a coach with a less-than-pristine compliance record. What an odd decision by Delany. And again, this wasn't an off-the-cuff temper tantrum in front of a live mike; this is a letter that remains on the Big Ten's website months later.
So yes...a move to the Big Ten would be accompanied by having to put up with a crazy commissioner's monthly rants and generally insane statements, and it would insert Mizzou into a conference whose schools, from time to time, go to even more unethical lengths to win than Big 12 schools. But would this be a deal breaker? In the end, I doubt it. Let's remind ourselves that our commissioner just quit to take a job with the Big Ten...as a planning and development guy for their TV network. VP of P&D for the Big Ten Network was seen as a better opportunity than Big 12 Commissioner? Not necessarily--both Weiberg and the conference are obviously taking huge risks here, especially since details for this coming season's coverage are still up in the air--but the perception of the move still does not reflect well on the Big 12.

I've expressed my opinion on this issue before--I won't cry if we leave, I won't cry if we stay...I know, I'm quite the polarizing figure--but I think two things have become obvious heading into the 2007-08 sports year: 1) the days of "Mizzou would never ever leave the Big 12" are gone--we might not leave, but if asked, there's no doubting that we would seriously consider it; and 2) the hiring of the new Big 12 Commissioner is absolutely huge. Never mind Mizzou--the Big Ten might go after Nebraska too. The Big 12 cannot let this happen. To make sure that it doesn't, they need the new commissioner to step in and almost immediately a) quell some of the anxiety, and b) get this conference back to living up to the potential it's shown for quite a while.

How's the Commish search going? Well, last week the conference hired a consultant, Parker Executive Search, to help...which doesn't lead you to believe a decision is forthcoming in the next week or two. Naturally, the interim commissioner, Dan Beebe, would love to get 'interim' removed from his title, but I'd say it's smart of the conference to perform a wide-reaching search first. Other names being thrown around? Our old friend, Joe Ca$h, for one, but he just got a nice raise. Beebe, for another. Conference USA commish Britton Banowsky, too, not to mention Mountain West head Craig Thompson. Beyond that, who knows. I'm sure there are about 26 other candidates that nobody's mentioned. Personally, I've always taken a liking to Joe Ca$h (for no real reason)--I think he has the right personality for this type of job, and I wouldn't mind the conference taking another run at him (even though it would mean an insane amount of money and power). I have no idea what to think about the other candidates. CUSA just lost half its teams to the Big East, so I'm not exactly sold on Banowsky; meanwhile, my perception of the Mountain West is that it's allowed the WAC to make up ground in the last few years. But that doesn't mean either of them wouldn't do a good job. Guess that means I'm putting my faith in Parker Executive Search, huh?

I used to get so damn sick of the "Big Ten?" debate when it came up once a month on Tigerboard--it wasn't on the slate, so it was a pointless discussion...plus, I grew up in Big 8 Country and had no interest in moving away from the rivalries I knew and loved--but I'm much more open to discussing the idea at this point. I'm not worried about the long-term future of Mizzou Athletics, but if we would be better served by switching conferences (and starting an utterly massive domino chain that would be fun to watch), it's an idea that should be taken seriously.

Of course, the Big Ten might just invite Syracuse and quickly end all discussion. Who knows?


Mizzou Links, 7-27-07

I just finished watching a nice Jim Riek feature on Kim Anderson and his summer basketball camp. Of course Riek couldn't resist mentioning Anderson getting passed up for his 'dream job.' I mentioned to my wife when it was over that I just wasn't sure Anderson could recruit at a D-1 level. We'd have ended up with a lot of likable, hard-working teams who played the game the right way...and went 16-14 every year. Her response? "Didn't Mizzou do that anyway, only without being likable and hard-working?" Touché.

And yes, Jim Riek is still running the show...he's looking good at age 113.

  • Here's some more inside recruiting news...on location with Gabe Dearmond in Orlando! Care to live more in the future tense? Here's Jeff Ermann looking at another 2009 prospect.
  • In more Big 12 football news, Dave Matter looks at season #2 for Ron Prince and Dan Hawkins and also writes a feature on OSU's Martel Van Zant.
  • In light of the Post-Dispatch a) not sending anybody to Big 12 Media Day and 2) burying a story about Mizzou being North favorite deep inside the recesses of the sports section, Graham Watson responds to the latest "Post-Dispatch hates Mizzou" talk. This is what's great about blogs...you get much more immediate responses to issues.
  • I decided to head on over to the Dallas Morning News this morning to see what they had to say about Big 12 football...they always seem to have pretty good coverage of Big 12 activities...and here's what I found. 1) Baylor and Notre Dame will play in Arlington in 2012. That's a great game for Baylor...now they have five years to make themselves competitive. 2) Big 12 coaches discuss the new "kickoff from the 30" rule. 3) The future of OSU LB Chris Collins is in jeopardy. You'll recall that he ended up at OSU because they were willing to take a chance on him after 2004 sexual assault charges. 4) The Cotton Bowl wants to be part of the BCS. So, I'm sure, does the New Mexico Bowl. Like I said, great detail from the DMN.
  • And finally, rest in peace Skip Prosser. You learn just how tight the basketball community is by reading some of the hundreds of quotes from fellow coaches. Anybody that ever talked to him is very torn up by this. My condolences to Prosser's family and the Wake Forest community.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-26-07

Apologies for Blogger's continued weirdness...if the page doesn't load right, hit refresh. If it still doesn't load right...well...guess you shouldn't be on the Internet anyway.

  • If football recruiting's your thing, Inside Mizzou's got some strong subscriber-only content right now, including an article about another strong Class of 2009 MO QB. Lots more if you're a subscriber. Speaking of paying for recruiting news...if basketball recruiting's more what you're looking for, it's paying off to be a PowerMizzou subscriber right about now.
  • More Media Day(s) coverage: Dave Matter tells Mizzou, Welcome to the Jungle. We like to say that Mizzou crumbled under expectations in 2004, but...well, they were only picked 2nd in the North in '04. First place is a whole new bag. Cross your fingers. Meanwhile, Iowa State's looking for a "quick turnaround". Good luck with that. And finally, one day after comparing Gene Chizik to Bob Stoops, Dave Matter compares Ron Prince to...Quin Snyder. Ouch. No word on whether Prince has a 500-page player development book for each player. Speaking of Big 12 North foes, the KC Star has more on Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas...plus a nice story about Martel Van Zant, the deaf DB Mike Gundy brought to Media Day.
  • Finally, Jim Caple has a fantastic look back at "Homer at the Bat", one of the greatest Simpsons episodes ever...and the last time major league baseball got the nation's attention (in a positive way) without using HGH. Sorry, that was rude. Anyway, god bless the Springfield Mystery Spot...


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-25-07

It's a Media Day Edition of Mizzou Links!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Things that make you go Hmmmmm

A couple of interesting reads about MU Pitcher Greg Folgia. Lots of questions left unanswered:
Folgia will not play for Blazers
All about fun for Folgia


MU Baseball Fund-Raiser: Bullpen Scramble

MU Baseball will be hosting a fund-raiser Golf Scramble on September 12th. Details can be found HERE


Mizzou Links, 7-24-07

  • The football commitments continue to roll in. Good-sized kid. Meanwhile, Jeff Ermann from InsideMizzou has more on last week's Mizzou commit, Drew Temple. Have we mentioned how much good, free stuff there is at InsideMizzou lately?

  • Dave Matter has some notes from Media Days in San Antonio. Most interesting part: Mark Mangino is bigger than ever. When he suggests gastric bypass surgery to Mangino's face, he will become the bravest journalist ever.

  • It seems that everything happens in Oklahoma City nowadays. This time it was the Central Section VIII Long Course Swimming Championships, and Mizzou swimmers represented well, winning 12 gold medals and 26 medals overall.

  • Pretty neat series ESPN.com has going right now, examining great under-the-radar rivalries. Today: Williams-Amherst.

  • And from that link I found this one: welcome to the big-time, Longwood. Having once attended a concert in the Longwood gym, I can only say...hope you're prepared to upgrade your facilities a smidge, guys. My high school gym was bigger, and my high school gym wasn't that big.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-23-07


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Paddy wins the British...

...some nice excitement in today's British Open finale...but most importantly, the Irishman's win is a huge victory for all the white American males out there who like to think they're more Irish than they actually are. Congrats to you all (myself included). Tip back a Guinness tonight.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Is it possible to have a sustained breakthrough?

I've been thinking about football recruiting a lot lately, but I haven't posted too much about it, so I thought I'd share some thoughts here.

Much credence is given to the thought that Gary Pinkel needs a major on-field breakthrough to ease some recent in-state recruiting ills, and that thought is definitely true to some degree. However...how possible is it for a mid-rung, non-'name brand' school like Missouri to break through to the other side...and stay there?

The Florida's and Ohio State's and Texas's and USC's of the world will always be near the top unless they're doomed by a wretched coaching hire--or series of hires, a la Oklahoma in the mid-'90s. However, your Purdue's and Missouri's and Oklahoma State's and Oregon State's seem to always find themselves in peaks and valleys. It seems there's something of a cycle with most mid-rung, major-conference teams and their new coaching hires. (And I realize this is a crude summation of how things actually go down.)

1) A new coach comes in, convinces a couple of classes of kids that their team is the next big thing, and sews up some recruiting successes.

2) The transition between the old coach's players and the new coach's players–not to mention the fact that this New Coach is either an old coach whose shortcomings got him fired from a previous major job ( i.e. Larry Smith) or a younger coach new to the major conference level of play (i.e. Gary Pinkel) and needs a transition period of his own—leads to minor success at best and shows kids/parents/fans that New Coach isn't the second coming of Vince Lombardi (or Urban Meyer, eh?)...or in the case of the older coach, his steam and vigor begin to run short. This results in a couple of years of less-stellar recruiting.

3) The kids from the first couple of classes begin to mature in Years #3-5 of the New Coach's administration, bumping up the level of on-field success and, potentially, recruiting success.

4) Those players graduate, leaving behind the lackluster classes as upperclassmen. Quality of play takes a step backwards, so does recruiting.

5) At this point, either the success disappears altogether and the coach gets fired/retires, or the coach fights it out until the next round of better recruits reaches upperclassman range, and another step forward is taken. At this point, a cycle of 'a couple up years, a couple down years' emerges for as long as that coach has the job.

This is obviously over-simplified, but when you think about it, this really does describe a majority of major-conference teams who aren't 'name brands.' Yes, you get the occasional Glen Mason's (i.e. the coaches who seem to win 7 games every single season and never actually threaten to break into the elite levels) and Bill Snyder's (he created a 'name brand' situation, but it looks like maybe he was the name brand, and not K-State), but for the most part, the only difference for most coaches at these schools is the height of the peak.

Very few coaches fight their way out of this cycle. Honestly, looking back at mid-rung teams from the past 10-15 years, I can think of one coach who has initiated some level of long-term success at a school like this: Frank Beamer. He's more-or-less taken Virginia Tech to 'name brand' status...though they're still a step or three below the Ohio State's and USC's of the world. And who knows how much of that status is due simply to the lingering effects Michael Vick's revolutionary tenure there? You might be able to add Jeff Tedford and Rich Rodriguez to the 'permanent breakthrough' list soon, though Rodriguez might soon belong in another category: potential cycle-breakers who jump to a 'name brand' school. Coaches in that category—think of Les Miles at OSU or, in basketball, Billy Gillispie—break the peaks-and-valleys cycle only hitting the reset button on them. A mid-rung school is forced to make repeated perfect hires to sustain a high level of success and threaten to break the glass ceiling.

This leaves Gary Pinkel in an interesting position. The schedule is relatively kind, and if the defense can make its way to above-average status (and the injury bug doesn't get hungry...knock on wood), this could quite possibly be his most successful season at Mizzou. Being that the recruiting class of 2008 is already half-filled (if not 90% filled) at most places, you can assume that a huge season in '07 would lead to a very strong Class of '09 for Pinkel and staff. However, when Chase Daniel graduates after '08, there will quite likely be an offensive dropoff for at least a year or two...and possibly a dropoff in wins for a couple seasons. When that Class of '09 matures, though, things begin look up again...if he's still around.

Of course, we could also go 7-5 this year, at which point Pinkel would officially enter Glen Mason Territory. But I don't want to think about that right now.

Thoughts? Am I totally off-base here?


Friday, July 20, 2007

Mizzou Exchange with John Anderson (Part Two)

As we start to wrap this up, let’s go back to Sportscenter and something that is pretty timely with the announcement that ESPN Hall of Famer Dan Patrick will be leaving his post after his long run. Not to get into Dan’s reasons for leaving or anything to that end, but what does it mean to you to work in a field and for a company where your growing popularity and national exposure is leading to greater opportunities to branch out into other avenues which are similar (Charley Steiner, Rich Eisen) or not as similar (Keith Olbermann)? And not to have you tell me what your extended career plan is, but does that intrigue you to see it happen more and more?

There are two curious, and to this point, unanswered questions here at ESPN: Can you outgrow SportsCenter? What happens when anchors you get old?

In the case of Dan and Charlie and Rich I think they did sort of outgrow the show to the point they needed a new challenge. Maybe not so much Charlie who has always been a play-by-play man at heart. Keith is a different case in that he's shown no matter what the job or what the money or what the circumstances he just tends to move around. Don't know if that's a nomadic nature, some sort of general unrest, worn out welcomes or the search for something new.

In any instance it comforting to know that you're sort of always putting your resume out there on a nightly basis for someone else to see. And it's amazing, to me anyway, the value ESPN and SC has beyond Bristol, CT. Dave Revsine just went to be lead anchor at the Big Ten Network and they are thrilled to get him because of his ties to the conference, yes, but also because he brings a credibility from a decade working here.

I hope that serves me well someday too when I want to pull off a hostile takeover of my good friend Chris Gervino at KOMU.

And while I plan, for the next few years anyway, to be here. Time already served has opened doors that I wouldn't have thought possible. I wrote a book with Chi Chi Rodriguez. I get out and speak for a fee on occasion. Neither of these things would have happened if I was John Anderson Sports Anchor from Butte, Montana.

It is certainly one of the added values that does not show up in your contract and one colleagues of mine think hard about when looking at another job. I know Rich Eisen wrestled with that a great deal. Lead man at NFL Network sounds great but not if they can't see you. In Rich's case -- NFL a pretty good bet -- and it's worked out great for him. Not his hair, but for him.

The staying power of Chris Gervino should never be underestimated….ever.

I appreciate your insight on that topic, it was just something that always interested me. Of course, I long for the day when Charlie may return to Bristol, if for no other reason than his laughing fits are absolutely legendary.

And since this is going to eventually make it onto the blog, all of you who are reading this, get, out there and support John and Chi Chi

Alright…still on the topic of SportsCenter, are the broadcast “teams” by specific design or by happenstance with scheduling? For instance, you and Steve Levy (tell Steve I miss him from his days on WFAN). Neal Everett and Scott Van Pelt. The old school teams of Dan and Keith/Stu Scott and Rich Eisen. Do those come about from trial and error?

And finally….what would be your response to someone who tell you that ESPN has helped create almost an unhealthy sub-culture within athletes who strive for the highlight reel to be on Top Plays rather than focusing on the team/winning element at times?

Gervino is my hero.

The team thing has gone back in forth since I've been here. Rich and Stu and Dan sort of made up the 11 and Linda Cohn and Kenny Mayne did the 1am. When Kenny begged off of SC I paired up on set with Linda for awhile.

The Kevin Frazier came and Scott Van Pelt came and Dan Patrick went to the 6 and it was a bit of a random draw on the night time shows. And I think management was good with that idea. Dan and Keith Oberman got so big and sort of wielded so much power I don't think the brass wanted to be in a position again where the anchors held sway over the show. The show needs to be the thing and by drawing form a consistent pool of people you allow that to happen.

Then that thinking went out because feed back and focus groups declared they wanted to know who was on the show. They wanted people to identify with. That's when they put Steve and me and Neil and Scott together in an effort to put the same faces out there every night. With some Stuart Scott mixed in.

The matching was pretty easy... they try not to put Scott and I together because we're similar in style and, when he had hair, looks. Blonde, glasses. He's now bald and glasses.

As for the whole SC has spoiled athletes and team sports I've heard it before and think it's a crock.
I've met and covered how many athletes -- many... and while they would like to be on SC I've not met one who wouldn't rather win.

Yes, I think kids may try to dunk like the players they see on SC and some of those kids have grown up and now compete in pro sports seen on SC but it's absurd to think we hold more power over how an athlete performs than a coach or a parent. If we do than that's a really bad coach or a really bad parent.

Great diving catches and great dunks and great end zone grabs are a product of the game and then we show them. It's impossible, I think, to be chasing down a fly ball or a deep pass and think if I dive for this or use just one hand I'll be on TV.

Baseball sold the home run with Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron long before we did.

I use this example... if we showed nothing but bunts and guys moving the runner over and sac flies every night for 6 months... would kids suddenly be begging to lay one down or give themselves up? I played Little League long before ESPN and I bunted when called upon but preferred to swing away.

Of course, I was a big hitter!

I join you at the Shrine of Chris

Thank so much for the insight, and I am sure if Van Pelt were on these emails, he would say the bald is by design….it’s what they all say.

Alright…lightning round of questions to bring this all to a close.

#1 – What would mean more to you, a national championship for Mizzou in basketball or football?
Football. By far. And preferably with a win in the Orange Bowl.

#2 – If you had a chance to be any sausage in the sausage race in Milwaukee, which one would you be?
Italian Sausage. Great hat. This may be happening by the way on Friday, August 3rd.

#3 – If the Hartford Whalers ever returned to Hartford, would it cause Chris Berman’s head to explode?
Probably not his... but if they play that song Brass Bonanza every 30 minutes mine would.

#4 – Shakespeare’s or Booches?
What day and what time of day is it? Booches before noon or anytime before kickoff. Shakes after the game or for dinner. Now that Ron's Country Boy #2 has closed, Ernie's for biscuits and gravy.

#5 – Some of the stars for the next Surreal Life have been announced, so in Sportscenter style, who’s more NOW? Randy “Macho Man” Savage or Carrot Top?
Carrot Top -- the guy is ripped these days.

#6 – Follow-up question….if asked, would you ever appear on a reality television series?
Yes... but only if it involved Gervino, Mike Hall, Chase Daniel, Derrick Chievous, Ben Lucero and Norm Stewart crashing in the house I lived in my senior year on 401 S. William St.

#7 – Best book (aside from your own) you’ve read lately?
The Devil in White City.
Also a big fan of A Fly Went By... Always a bedtime hit with the kids.

#8 – Will you, or anyone in your family, be on line to get the new Harry Potter book at midnight Saturday morning?
No chance!

#9 – People ask the I-pod question all the time….but do you even own one?
Yes -- the Nano. 60% filled with Van Morrison tunes.

#10 – Who will win the NL Central? Brew-Crew/Cubs/Cardinal Nation?
The Crew dominates! It is Milwaukee's year. '57 World Series Champs, '82 AL Champs, '07 NL Central Champs. Every 25 years like clock work. Cards allowed a mulligan. The Cubs, like the Mets, are pond scum.

#11 – Fill in the blank: “You can take the boy out of Lawrence_________
but you can't take the lawrence out of the boy." (clank) Paul Pierce missed free throw. And man did I get heck for saying that on the air one night.


Mizzou Links, 7-20-07

  • Bring on the jinx talk!! Mizzou Football is picked #1 in the North by the Big 12 media. (See fan reaction here, here, and here.) I enjoy being the underdog, and that role served us relatively well last year, but as I've said before, I'm trying a new tactic this year--naive optimism! Bring on the high expectations! Meanwhile, Gabe at PM previews one of the division's toss-up teams, Colorado. So much personnel has changed for them between last year and this year that it's hard to get a read on how good they'll be--probably not very good, but you just don't know for sure.
  • Graham Watson (friend of Mizzou Sanity!) has a nice story about Mike Anderson's rough summer in Columbia. Welcome to Mizzou Basketball, Mike.
  • Lindsey Hunter helps Team USA to the Bronze at the Pan-Am Games in Rio. It's their third straight Pan Am Bronze. Cuba won gold for the first time since 1995; they had won seven in a row at that point before losing in 1999 and 2003.
  • And finally, Chris Carpenter is looking at Tommy John surgery. Get used to it, Cardinal fans. Somebody sold their soul for the 2006 World Series, and the devil's collecting. Expect 26 torn labrums in your future. That said, I'd say it's a worthy trade-off. Let me know who your buyer was, and I'll get in touch. Hell, the price should be pretty cheap for my Pirates--they already lose every promising pitcher to Dr. James Andrews...


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mizzou Exchange with John Anderson (Part One)

(Yes....THAT John Anderson...from ESPN. I would cut and paste, or link his bio, but ESPN has it on some fancy flash-page. If you want to look at it, go here and find his name :-)


So let’s start with an easy one…ESPN related and see where the conversation takes us.

The ESPN advertising campaign has long been recognized and lauded as one of the best around. You seem to be in your fair share of commercials, along with perhaps other people’s shares. Are you always drawing the short straw? Volunteering? How is the selection process for them, and how much do you enjoy them? And did the blue shirt you won that day from the Spirit Girls really fit?

The spots for the "This is SportsCenter" campaign are a blast and, really, for most of us a sign you've really made it into the SC club. Even after I did my first few SportsCenters I still had friends who were like, "Yea, great, saw the show. When are you going to be in a commercial?"

Participation is sort of random. Our ad crew starts by rounding up people who are going to be in the building the day the athletes are available and goes from there. Rarely do you look at a script with your name on it. It will say Scott Van Pelt -- be he just worked over night and can't make the 9am shoot time so Levy or Anderson takes the part.

The spots take forever to shoot but are worth it because it gives you more time to get to know the athlete involved. And it never ceases to amaze me how much the guys/gals love doing them. The Manning brothers were terrific, Maria Sharapova unbelievable, Koybayashi a hoot eating hot dogs. We went to Vegas to film two with Tiger Woods and he could not have been better. There's a great behind the scenes feature I did with him on a DVD that came with the history of the highlight book we did for ESPN's 25th anniversary.

The blue button down oxford shirt was perfect fit. 16/36.

16/36? Wow….I don’t mean this the wrong way, but you have some pretty long arms. I mean I am 18 ½ on the shirts, and 36….maybe I have short arms….oh well.

And after some checking, the commercial with you and Ms. Sharapova is the most viewed of all the ESPN commercials placed by the World-Wide Leader on YouTube.com , that is something to be proud of and likely only so because of your far-reaching stardom J (considering her commercial with Stuart Scott has been viewed 15,000 fewer times.)

Let’s talk about your road to Bristol. You came to Mizzou from Wisconsin, what was more important to you as an 18 year old making the trek to Columbia? Running track or your career path? I think I can safely assume that “Sports Center Anchor” was not your chosen career path, at least not at that point.

Long arms, unless I'm reaching for my wallet.

Sharapova and I nearly the same height. I have her by about an inch. She brought her dog with her to the shoot. If she had kept it in her handbag she could have passed for a Hilton sister.

Shocking as it may seem I did not have a grand career plan at the age of 18. I had pretty much narrowed my post HS phase of life down to college at Mizzou for J-School or the University Wisconsin for anything else. After a decent senior year on the track I decided it would be nice to try and keep running (or in my case jumping) so I called the coach in Madison and he politely told me there was no room for me on the team because he already had a high jumper. I then called Coach Bob Teel at Mizzou and he said he'd be glad to have me. I surrendered on the spot. Hello Journalism major. Hardly a great recruiting battle. Of course, once I arrived in Columbia and got to know Coach Teel I realized he would have let anybody run for him. He gave everybody a chance and if they're weren't good enough or not dedicated enough they just sort of ran themselves off the team. He never managed to shake me even though I wasn't very good. The kid at Wisconsin, Jon Baer, a kid I knew from Tomahawk, WI ended up winning Big Ten titles. Worked out well for everybody.

And, absolutely, in 1983 nobody was thinking of a career at SC or ESPN. In fact as late as my senior year my dream job was wanting to take over for Todd Donahoe (MU great) as host on "Time Out for Trivia." Still the single greatest sports trivia show ever. Stump the Schwab cannot even compare.

Interesting, I would not have seen Sharapova as a toy dog kind of person. And to think you know someone and they surprise you like that….

To be honest, I don’t think you could have gone wrong with college. State St. in Madison was enough to win me over the one time I went there (fortunately it was AFTER I had graduated). Maybe it was the ability to eat a brat and drink a beer on campus on the Lake that did it too, but what a great atmosphere up there.

Back to your time at Mizzou, I know you were back to campus a couple of years ago as Grand Marshall of the Mizzou Homecoming Parade. What kind of experience was that for you? What was your first thought as you drove around a campus that had changed quite a bit since you had roamed there?

I actually get back to campus pretty frequently. Does once, twice a year count as frequently?

Not as much when I lived in Phoenix, obviously, but when I was in Tulsa I tried to get back for ballgames and now that I have a little bit larger paycheck I can get back for a game during the fall or the basketball game against kU.

Funny how the construction never ever ends on a campus. They're always pouring concrete for something else.

Are those columns new or have they always been there?

I miss the Shack. Shame all the T.A. slums behind the library are gone. I'm glad the law school is finished because it was a hole in the ground when I graduated.

So going back for Homecoming wasn't overwhelming in terms of physical campus change. However, it was really a neat and humbling experience to be a part of given the history of the event and the weekend at Mizzou. We were the first. It's our idea everybody else copied MU. The history and the investment the students put it to it is terrific and I was honored to be a part of it.

I also noticed that the age of the students never changes. Nobody gets older going to college apparently.

Wow….and at the end I thought you were going to pull the classic line from Dazed and Confused….about you getting older and older and them staying the same age.

As for the columns, according to former Chancellor Wallace on the day Norm Stewart resigned, there were only 5…so they must have just added the last one in the past few years.

And yes, from the distance you are traveling/have traveled, once to twice a year certainly counts. Glad to hear you have been able to be around campus as much as you have.

(More to come in Part TWO!! Stay tuned!!)


Mizzou Links, 7-19-07

  • Brian Smith and Mizzou Wrestling have put together the #2 recruiting class in the country according to intermat.com, a class that includes four high school All-Americans. First place? Ohio State. Really? Ohio State? Not Minnesota, Oklahoma State, et cetera? Weird. Oh, and speaking of wrestling, Ben Askren says thank you.
  • Speaking of recruiting, here's Mizzou's Defensive Hot Board according to PowerMizzou.
  • Very cool article about Roger Wehrli's August 4 College Football Hall of Fame induction. What's just as cool? Wehrli will also be Homecoming Grand Marshal this fall.
  • Thomas Gardner scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting (over a team-high 31 minutes) at the Rocky Mountain Revue on Tuesday. It was his fourth double-digit output in five games, though I'm thinking he'd have to do a little more to merit a serious chance of making the Bulls in '07-08. Plus, the Bulls need outside scoring, and Gardner hasn't had much of a 3-point shot this summer.
  • Dave Matter continues his look at the Top 25 for the upcoming football season...here's #19-17.
  • Finally, since I haven't said it on this blog yet, Michael Vick is a disgusting human being. Jason Whitlock can say that Vick's problems are due to 'hip hop culture' if he really wants to, but I just say that, until proven otherwise, Vick is a disgusting human being.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-18-07

Okay. I know that ESPN is as much about entertainment as sports. And I know that July is the slowest month of the year. I accept that a lot of people are enjoying this "Who's Now?" thing. But...Jessica Biel? Really? You want me to take this at least somewhat seriously, and you have Jessica Biel and Kevin James telling me who's more 'Now' in the second round? Come on. I'll never complain about Jessica Biel being on my TV, mind you, but still...this is just silly.

  • Obviously the big Mizzou news for the day is Kalen Grimes' dismissal from the basketball team. Knowing the drama that has been Mizzou Basketball over the last five years, I think this was a solid move. I'm a little uncomfortable about the fact that he hasn't actually been charged with anything yet, but not enough to question the move.

    As for how this hurts Mizzou in '07-08...well...I realize that Mike Anderson likes his players lean and fast, but the team's biggest player is now Leo Lyons. Yikes. DeMarre Carroll and Justin Safford, you better be ready to play a lot of minutes this year.

  • Thomas Gardner had a huge game in something called the Rocky Mountain Revue, scoring 18 points Monday evening. He doesn't seem to have done all too well from the 3-point line in these summer league games, but he seems to be developing his mid-range game, and that's huge for him.

  • Meet the new Mizzou Wrestling Assistant...same as the old Mizzou Wrestling Assistant...

  • The Trib's Joe Walljasper has more on Tiger legend Dick Ault.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-17-07

Woohoo, the "Read More" problem is fixed! And if you don't know what I'm talking about...then well...move along...nothing to see here...

  • Rest in Peace, Mizzou Olympian Dick Ault.
  • In football recruiting, PowerMizzou's broken out the Hot Board again.
  • Bad week for Oklahoma State. First, possible starting WR Artrell Woods has a freak workout accident and is out for the season, then Marcus Dove becomes the third OSU basketball player to get a DUI in three months (after Terrel Harris and Obi Muonelo).
  • Brian Burwell discusses inner-city athletes (including Kalen Grimes)...
  • And finally...Cat Osterman has moved on from giving Big 12 opponents nightmares a year ago to striking out 13 in the World Cup Finals this year, in the softball mecca of Oklahoma City...good for her...


Monday, July 16, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-16-07

Blogger's been doing some funky things lately, and I really can't explain why the "Read More" button is being so screwy...my apologies...I've been hoping blogger magically fixes it, but I might have to look into fixing it myself soon...boo...

  • Sunday's Trib Q&A is with S&C Coach Pat Ivey...he seems to think there's an insane amount of leadership on this year's team...I'm sure he says the same thing every year, but it's still good to hear.
  • Meanwhile, Dave Matter produces an interesting Best Units in the Big 12 list...the only time you'll see Mizzou's WR's directly compared to ATM's O-line...and since I didn't link to it last week, here's Dave's latest football blog entry...a news & notes affair...
  • It's a Trib-tastic edition of Mizzou Links! Here's Steve Walentik's Mizzou Basketball write-up (schedule, summer leagues are the topics)...
  • Recruiting's been pretty quiet lately after a June surge of commitments, but here's a nice (and for now, free) story at Inside Mizzou about one of 2009's biggest in-state recruits...and how losing out on Blaine Gabbert might actually end up doing us a favor in the end...
  • And finally, for one day it appears that there are worse things in life than being a Pittsburgh Pirates fan--being a Philadelphia Phillies fan. Happy #10,000!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Ultimate What If Game

You may not know this about me, but I enjoy the occasional What If Game.

Okay, now that you’ve digested that thoroughly unfathomable statement, I’ll mention what a What If thrill it was reading Filip Bondy’s Tip-Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever. It really doesn’t break too much new ground overall (though I didn’t know about the potential Sampson-for-Jordan trade in the works or how the Mavs sort of got strong-armed out of a coin-flip for Jordan), but it’s a fast and easy read, and as I noted...for fans of the What If Game, it leads your imagination in some pretty fun places.

The first two-thirds of Tip-Off are focused on all the minor details that went into setting the specific draft order that resulted in Houston getting #1, Portland #2, et cetera. He establishes this though character profiles of the guys who actually went #1, 2, 3. It's a pretty easy trick, but it's well-executed.

Like Boston and Memphis (among others) this year, Houston was accused of tanking down the stretch to get a better draft position (playing anicent star Elvin Hayes 53 minutes in one game near the end of the season). Meanwhile, Indiana (whose pick was owned by Portland), Chicago, and Cleveland (whose pick was owned by Dallas and whose ownership and management were so bad in the early-‘80s that David Stern decided to give them an extra first round pick if a new buyer would come into the picture) finished just two games apart. Also, the San Diego Clippers didn’t own their own pick (it was in Philly’s hands) and—possibly because of this—didn’t slack off down the stretch, improving their record and hurting their draft standing. Philly absolutely loved Michael Jordan (eventually making numerous offers to Chicago for their #3), but instead of getting the #2 or 3 pick like they thought they’d get earlier in the season, they fell to #5 and had to ‘settle’ for Charles Barkley.

It's hard to tell how well-written this part is simply because the story basically tells itself (though I can say with absolute certainty that he does a better job of telling the story than I did in that last paragraph). You don't need great literary prowess to make this readable, though Bondy deserves credit for realizing this and not blowing things out of proportion. He doesn't take the Joss Stone approach--showing off all your skills in every song even when totally unnecessary...and therefore ruining something simple and solid--and that's good. His tone is measured and straight-forward. There are a few minor editing errors throughout the book--it could have benefited from better editing--but not enough to discredit the writing as a whole.

So Bondy establishes the characters and does a relatively amusing play-by-play of the draft broadcast (let's just say things have changed slightly in the last 23 years). Before moving on to the last third of the book--what happened after 1984--he does all the What If'ers a favor by summarizing a lot of the What If’s on one page (pg. 180), and I hope I don’t get in trouble for blurbing this:

1. If Portland had won the coin flip, the Blazers planned to choose Olajuwon while the Rockets would have taken Jordan at the number 2 spot to complement Sampson.

2. If the Rockets had offered a deal sending Ralph Sampson to Chicago, the Bulls were willing to trade away their #3 pick.

3. If the Cavaliers had just lost one more game during the regular season, or if the Bulls had won one more, the two teams would have finished in a tie. A coin flip might have awarded the #3 pick to the Dallas Mavericks, who owned Cleveland’s draft choice.

4. If Sam Bowie’s frail legs had failed a physical exam with Portland, the Blazers would have settled on Jordan.

5. If Bowie had come out after his sophomore year, when his mother hung up the phone on that notion, the Blazers would have tabbed Jordan.

6. If the Rockets had grabbed local hero Clyde Drexler in the 1983 draft with their second pick, number 3 overall in the first round, then Portland would not have been able to choose Drexler much lower at #14. Without Drexler, the Blazers would have lacked a young shooting guard and would have picked Jordan in 1984.

7. If Jonathan Kovler, the Bulls’ chief operating officer, had insisted on accepting Harold Katz’s offer of the established, aging superstar, Julius Erving, then Thorn might not have been able to retain the #3 pick.
The What If’iness doesn’t stop with 1984, however. Tip-Off is full of little blurbs about previous drafs and scenarios—Rod Thorn and Chicago lost a coin flip in 1979 that would have resulted in the Bulls drafting Magic Johnson, for example; and hell, for that matter, the only reason the Lakers were involved in that coin flip was that they hade traded Gail Goodrich to the New Orleans Jazz in 1976 for a then-future #1.

The book's full of fun stuff like that. Granted, this really is an easy topic—I mean, how freaking fantastic was the talent level here? It’s hard to imagine that one class produced FOUR of the all-time Top 50 players—Hakeem, Jordan, Barkley, and Stockton—along with all-stars like Alvin Robertson and Otis Thorpe and other strong players like Ageless Kevin Willis, Sam Perkins, and Jerome Kersey...and yes, Sam Bowie. But easy topic or no, there really hadn't been a solid, in-depth look at this draft, and Bondy fills the void nicely.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-13-07


Luckily I got back from DC last night...would hate to have to travel on such an arbitrarily unlucky day...

  • Mutigers.com makes a mention of Rush and Gardner...both are doing decent work in Orlando. Rush is averaging 18 PPG over two games, while Gardner is averaging 8.7 PPG and 1.7 RPG over three.

  • Two months in the minors, and Max Scherzer is already the #12 prospect in the minors...not too shabby there. I could mention what he could have been doing by this point if he had an agent other than Scotty "Holdout" Boras...but I won't...

  • It's happening a year after I thought it might, but it appears that Mizzou Football ticket sales are on the rise.

  • Finally, it's not too surprising that Bryan Burwell has a take on Kalen Grimes and the state of today's young athlete...


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mizzou Links 7-12-07

Not much to report, one of these is a stretch as it is:

  • MUTigers.com with a nice piece about the replacement of the turf in Devine Pavillion. Made sense when they put the turf down in there since other schools still had turf. But this will not only be nice for football but for soccer, baseball and softball who make use of that facility as well as good part of the time.
  • Kareem Rush with another good game last night for the Pacers summer team.
  • Thomas Gardner also saw some time last night, but 4 TO's will hurt
  • So...the OU Sooners having to vacate all their wins from 2005 is interesting when you look at the records and schedules from that year. Looks like OU kept THREE teams out of bowl games in Baylor (37-30), K-State (43-21) and aTm (36-30). Considering only 7 Big XII teams went to bowl games that season, that is actually some money kept out of all teams' (including MU) pockets. Thanks for nothing OU.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Well, that was rather sudden...

Granted I've not been keeping up with a lot of sports headlines recently, so I don't know if this has been in the works, but when the Oklahoma Sooners make the Washington Post website, your ears kind of perk up a little bit.

It will be interesting to see how this one shakes out, because I don't think the NCAA is very cavalier about wiping a season off the record books. I can't see an appeal doing the Sooners much good.

Here's what I do know, KU just improved it's 2005 record by a game!


Mizzou Links 7-11-07

In The Boy's continued time away in D.C. I decided to throw something together.

  • First, a couple of updates on Thomas Gardner and Kareem Rush and their attempt to make the NBA through the ever-growing Summer League. In this story, MUTigers.com does a nice job of catching up with both players, while this story is a reprint of an Indy Star piece on Rush's career.
  • In other news, the possible bad news for Kalen Grimes continues to mount.
  • In football news, potential Mizzou recruit QB Braden Hanson has verballed to North Carolina and Butch Davis. Mizzou will now likely focus all attention on Arkansas HS QB Tyler Wilson and also Kansas athlete Chris Harper who both seem to favor Mizzou.

That's about it...


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Grimes and Punishment

Whoah. Yesterday, it sounded like a scuffle at a Dairy Queen. Now it’s alleged that Kalen Grimes clocked a guy with the butt of a shotgun, while a loaded pistol waited in his car. And that brings it all into sharper focus.

Kalen’s gotta go. Now.

Mike Anderson has no other choice. This is no kids-will-be-kids offense. This was a dangerous pre-meditated act that could have turned out much, much worse. I’m all for second chances, redemption and forgiveness. But Grimes is going to have to find his elsewhere.

Anything less than a dismissal, and the face of the program becomes a heavily-armed hulking hooligan. You can’t let that guy represent the University, and you can’t go into a recruit’s home and ask parents to entrust their son to a hoops family that would consider harboring that kind of character.

It’s the right choice. It’s the obvious choice. It’s the only choice.


Additional Mizzou Links (Thanks Atch) 7-10-07

  • Mizzou Golf signs what appears to be one heckuva recruit. Props to Nick for breaking this one
  • Some bad news for Mizzou baseball as one of their draft picks signs. From the looks of this post and responses, he was not the highest of recruits taken, and we have about a month to wait breathelessly to see who else signs.
  • And perhaps the biggest Tiger news of the day :-)


Mizzou Links, 7-10-07

Greetings from Bethesda, where it's every bit as hot as mid-Missouri, only even more humid. Eech. Anyway...

  • I guess now that the seal has been broken, we can expect Mizzou Basketball to be demanding more and more of the headlines? Lord, I hope not...and Kalen? What exactly are you doing with a shotgun in (apparently) your car?

  • Via Gabe at PowerMizzou, here's some video of Laurence Bowers, the Memphis kid who's quite high on Mizzou...which is great, as long as he avoids Dairy Queen's, I guess...

  • Keeping with the basketball motif, Mike Dearmond discusses Mizzou's '07-'08 nonconference schedule...vs Illinois, at Arkansas, at Mississippi State, Purdue, CBE Classic (with fellow hosts Maryland, Michigan State, and UCLA)...good stuff...

  • And finally...Greg...I'm pretty sure you can afford to pay for hotel internet access...


Monday, July 9, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-9-07

I depart for a conference in DC in about an hour, but I'm here to serve the public, so by god you're getting your Mizzou Links...

  • Congrats to Mizzou freshman and decathlete extraordinaire, Nick Adcock, for finishing 2nd at the Pan America Junior Championships!

  • A 6'7 (and 3-star) forward from Memphis has Mizzou in his final 2. Not exactly one who's been high on our radar screen to date, but sounds like a pretty impressive kid.

  • An interesting Q&A with Max Scherzer in the Sunday Trib. Scherzer torched A+ ball, and he's been a bit up and down in AA...but considering he's been playing pro ball for like a month now, I think he'll take it. Oh, and it always bothers me when Scott Boras isn't portrayed as Satan in a suit, but I'll get over it.

  • Also at the Trib: Dave Matter's 12 storylines for the Big 12 conference's 12th season. He's been a list-making machine this summer.

  • And finally, I hope that anybody who's even slightly interested in tennis watched yesterday's Wimbledon final. While I'm deeply concerned about the state of American tennis, my main concern is hoping that Federer and Nadal stay healthy for another few years. It sometimes gets boring when the same two guys win all the majors, but with the insane shotmaking that takes place between these two, all you can think when you see them play is, "I really want to see them play again." I loved the Sampras/Agassi/Courier/Chang era in the '90s, but Federer and Nadal just crush them in the 'creativity' and 'angles' departments. I just wish they were American!


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Mizzou Links, 7-7-07...Happy Live Earth Day!

So my laptop crashed yesterday morning, but fear not, Sanity Readers! A replacement is on the way...oh, and what a replacement it will be...once you go mac, you never go back...

  • Dave Matter has an interesting article about Mizzou and its lack of StL recruiting success. It's a good article from top to bottom, but here are the two juiciest bits. First, from DeSmet coach Pat Mahoney:

    "We’ve had an outstanding relationship," he said of Ford, who has recruited St. Louis since Pinkel’s staff came to MU after the 2000 season. "Coach Pinkel and Cornell Ford do it by the rules. They’re honest. They tell you where things stand. And sometimes, that’s an unusual quality, unfortunately. But they don’t pull any punches, and they’ve done a great job not only with Robert, but every recruit we’ve had."

    Mahoney said he’s heard similar comments from most of his coaching peers in St. Louis.

    "Now, there are some hard heads out there that are never going to change," he said. "Even if Vince Lombardi were coaching" at Missouri "some of the hard heads would say, ‘Well, I don’t know about them.’ But anyone who’s been open to" Pinkel’s staff "has said the same thing I am."
    And then from Danny Heitert...
    "Missouri has been victimized by their fast start in Gary’s first year. It gave the perception that they were the hare and not the tortoise," said Heitert, a veteran recruiting analyst from St. Louis who publishes the annual recruiting guide, the STC Grid Report. "These guys are not quick-change artists. It’s very rare that you find these turnaround coaches, like" Nick Saban "at Alabama. When you find one, you cherish them because they’re precious. And that’s why they make the big seven-figure dollars.

    "Gary’s group is not that. That’s not bad because those are very few. Early on, he gave the impression that he may be a turnaround artist. But he’s not. He’s an incrementalist. That is where they’re at in St. Louis. They’ve got a good foundation. They’re very rarely, with a few exceptions, out of the game altogether with a single recruit."


    "Missouri just can’t seem to make any headway there, and I’m not sure why that is," Heitert said. "Coaches from schools like that will deny under oath that they steer anyone away or have any bias toward Missouri. But I kind of go on behavior and by what I see, not what people say. What I see is there are pockets where Missouri just can’t get into the recruiting game. Why that is? I’m not certain."
    Nobody seems to have any answers, which is the weirdest part. A lot of StL folks view Mizzou as bass-ackwards, and it doesn't seem there's anything in the world Mizzou can do to change that...other than go 11-1 this season.

  • Ben Askren: Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year and Mizzou Wrestling Volunteer Assistant. A man for all seasons.
  • Now that Mizzou Basketball is back in the headlines (and for the record, what the hell is Club Tropicana? Never heard of the place...), mutigers.com thought it would be a good time to look back on the 2006-07 season and look ahead to 07-08.
  • And finally, Summer League didn't exactly start too well for the Portland Trail Blazers...10 fouls, Greg? Really?


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Yeah, pretty much nothing good happens after 1 AM...

Sorry to hear about this unfortunate incident. But it does sound like Carroll is going to be fine, which is really good news. Still, a scary thing to happen to one of your players.


Mizzou Links, 7-5-07

I almost think it makes more sense to get the day after Fourth of July off...especially when your neighborhood has as many fireworks-shootin' kids who stay up really late shootin' fireworks as ours has...I'm going to be a zombie today...

  • PowerMizzou's ongoing football opponent preview has reached the Nebraska game. I really really hope Mizzou's 4-0 at that point...would be Mizzou's best chance at a breakthrough since...I dunno...before I was born??
  • Kareem Rush is now an Indiana Pacer. That's great and all...I just really though Kareem was going to stick in the NBA better than this. I realize his work ethic wasn't much of anything, but still...
  • P.J. Carliesimo? Really? I realize he's got tons of Spurs blood in his veins and all, but...Sprewell aside, P.J. seemed out of touch with players a decade ago...
  • And finally, I'll take the time to mention once again that Wimbledon looks fantastic in HD. That, and in a 'Short People Unite!' moment, my 5'1 wife was very encouraged watching cute little Justine Henin (okay, she's 5'5...not exactly a shrimp...and not exactly all that cute) taking care of 6'+ Serena yesterday...I told her that Henin is no Amanda Coetzer (a legitimate 5'2 and smoking hot)...which made me happy because it gave me an excuse to look up Coetzer pics on Google...


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

What If...Mizzou Joined the Big Ten in 1996? (Part Three)

When we last left off, Missouri was trying to figure out what to do with coach Larry Smith. After back-to-back West Division titles in ’97 and ’98, Smith’s Tigers fell to 5-7 in ’99 and 3-8 in ’00. Larry Smith had rejuvenated the Mizzou football program, improved Mizzou’s facilities, and softened the blow of a conference change. But recruiting had taken a step backwards recently, attendance was flagging, and new Athletic Director Mike Alden was probably looking to put his stamp on the football program.

So I say he fires Larry Smith, and in December 2000 Missouri is looking for a new coach. In the real 1999, here were the candidates Alden pursued:

Top Tier
* Toledo coach Gary Pinkel
* Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt
* Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Brent Venables
* TCU coach Dennis Franchione

* Western Michigan coach Gary Darnell
* Wisconsin defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove
* Oregon offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford
* USF coach Jim Leavitt
* Florida assistant Jon Hoke
* ECU coach Steve Logan
* Purdue offensive coordinator Jim Chaney
* Recently-fired Georgia coach Jim Donnan
* Washington State coach Mike Price
* Louisville coach John L. Smith
* Clemson offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez

* Houston coach Dana Dimel
* Nebraska QB coach Turner Gill
* South Carolina assistant Skip Holtz
* Boise state coach Dirk Koetter
* UTEP coach Gary Nord
* Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops
* Former Auburn coach Terry Bowden
* Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Callahan (HA!)

So if Missouri actually had a slightly higher profile in the alternate-2000, and they were in a bigger-money situation in the Big Ten, how would this list have taken shape?

Well, we can probably eliminate the names from the ‘Longshots’ list. From the ‘Others’ list, we can eliminate Price (From ’98 to ’00, Wazzu went 10-24), Donnan (we’re not hiring a coach who just got fired somewhere else), Logan (like Pinkel, only with no MW ties), Leavitt (hadn’t proven himself yet), Tedford (no MW ties), and probably Venables.

So that leaves...

Pinkel – coming off of a 10-1 season and thrashing of Penn State
Richt – getting ready to interview for the Georgia job
Franchione – considering Arizona State, Mizzou, or staying at TCU
Darnell – apparently nothing distinguished him above Pinkel
Cosgrove – his StL and Big Ten ties would probably have earned him a stronger look
Hoke – nah
Chaney – MO native with Big Ten ties and (thanks partly to Drew Brees) a major offensive pedigree
Smith – I think he’s too Larry Smith-like to have drawn heavy consideration
Rodriguez – his east coast ties would have probably drawn him to WV either way

So with some paring down, I’d say our list of finalists is Pinkel, Richt, Franchione, Cosgrove, and Chaney. Being that Chaney still hasn’t been a head coach anywhere, I’m thinking he probably doesn’t interview amazingly well...and not to be mean, but he doesn’t really look the part. Richt’s southeastern ties probably lead him to Georgia no matter what. Something just never really felt right with Franchione...am thinking he stays with TCU no matter what.

So that leaves Pinkel and Cosgrove. Proven coach versus proven St. Louis recruiter. This is a tough choice, but I’m going to go with what I said about Chaney: Cos still isn’t a head coach somewhere, and that tells me something. Plus, Pinkel’s MW ties and ever-growing success in a Big Ten-area school would have been a hefty draw.

So 500+ words later, Pinkel gets the job anyway. Convenient, eh?


What if, with higher achievement in the 1997-98 period and fewer blowout losses in 1999-00, firing Larry weren’t as clear-cut, and it took Mike Alden a little while longer to come to a decision?

Why am I bringing this up? Because by mid-December, rumblings were very strong that John Cooper was going to be fired at Ohio State. After they got drubbed by Lou Holtz and South Carolina on January 1, 2001, Cooper was indeed fired, and later in January, Jim Tressel—coach of Youngstown State—was hired to replace Cooper.

If Gary Pinkel were still at Toledo in January 2001 (or maybe even in mid- to late-December 2000), you can bet that he’d have gotten considered for the job. Again, few MAC coaches ever had a higher profile (or seemingly brighter future) than Pinkel had when he left for Mizzou in 2000. Considering Tressel hadn’t ever achieved anything beyond the I-AA (sorry, Division I—Championship Subdivision) and Pinkel had just crushed Penn State in Happy Valley and gone 10-1 overall, you can even almost conclude that he’d have been heavily considered for the job...the favorite, even.

In other words, if Alden doesn’t immediately fire Larry Smith and get a search underway, Gary Pinkel might not be an option. In which case, Kevin Cosgrove is far and away the lead candidate.
Sounds like a nice Part 3A of my “What If...Big Ten” series, doesn’t it (unless my Franchione curiosity gets the best of me)? But for now, let’s assume the firing does in fact take place quickly, and Gary Pinkel is the man for Mizzou.

So let’s walk through the Pinkel era, but first with a disclaimer: if Pinkel were coaching in the Big Ten, chances are he wouldn’t have strayed from the Ohio/Pennsylvania/Michigan recruiting corridor nearly as much, and he consequently wouldn’t have recruited Texas as heavily. But there’s absolutely no way I could predict with even 1% accuracy who he would and wouldn’t have gotten (I know, that hasn’t stopped me before), so I’m not going to go there.


So the pseudo Gary Pinkel era starts in a pretty similar way to the actual Pinkel era—rougher, actually.

9/1: Bowling Green 20, Missouri 13 – As long as Kirk Farmer gets hurt in a stupid fight and Darius Outlaw starts at QB, this result is the same.

9/8: Missouri 40, Texas State 6Same.

9/29: Minnesota 28, Missouri 23 – The KU game scheduled for 9/15 is postponed due to 9/11, and whereas the Tigers in real-life came back from 3 weeks off to get thumped by Nebraska, the Big Ten Tigers instead lose a tight one to Glen Mason’s Gophers and fall to 2-1.

10/6: Missouri 35, Wisconsin 28 – In the real 2001, October was the month where the team started to figure things out a bit, winning at Oklahoma State and at Kansas. In the Big Ten (which, I’m pretty sure, was better than the Big XII...well, definitely deeper...no really elite team this season), shining moments are a little harder to come by. A surprise win over Wisconsin is pretty much the highlight of the season.

10/13: Penn State 45, Missouri 22 – A slightly resurgent Nittany Lion team comes into Columbia and takes care of business. Mizzou falls to 2-3.

10/20: Ohio State 28, Missouri 13 – Pinkel’s 2001 Tigers played pretty well on the road, but not well enough to compete in Columbus.

10/27: Purdue 20, Missouri 13 – The Brees-less Boilers have enough at home to move Mizzou to 2-5.

11/3: Iowa 18, Missouri 17 – Remember how painful the Iowa State home loss (the one where Tay Jackson screwed up like 13 times, and the Tigers attempted 4th and goal at the end of the game with only 10 players on the field) was in ’01? We’ll say Iowa is the new Iowa State.

11/10: Northwestern 35, Missouri 29 – Speaking of painful losses...

11/17: Illinois 32, Missouri 28 – Mizzou wraps up Gary Pinkel’s first Big Ten season by losing its last four conference games by a total of only 18 points. Illinois wins the West Division for the first time.

11/24: Missouri 38, Kansas 34 –Missouri finishes the season on a winning note, though a 3-8 season leaves plenty to be desired.

West Division
Illinois – 6-2 (10-2)
Iowa – 5-3 (7-4)
Wisconsin – 3-5 (5-7)
Minnesota – 3-5 (5-6)
Northwestern – 3-5 (5-6)
Missouri – 1-7 (3-8)

East Division
Penn State – 6-2 (7-4)
Ohio State – 6-2 (8-3)
Michigan – 5-3 (7-4)
Purdue – 4-4 (6-5)
Indiana – 4-4 (5-6)
Michigan State – 2-6 (5-6)

West Conference Record: 21-27
East Conference Record: 27-21

Big Ten Championship: Illinois 37, Penn State 29. Ron Turner’s shining moment.

Big Ten Bowls
Silicon Valley: Purdue 34, Fresno State 23
Sun: Michigan 24, Washington State 21
Alamo: Iowa 19, Texas Tech 16
Outback: South Carolina 31, Penn State 27
Citrus: Tennessee 31, Ohio State 21
Sugar: LSU 47, Illinois 34


The Gary Pinkel Era really got started in 2002, only it was known with a different name: the Brad Smith Era. How would the results have differed in a Big Ten conference that consisted of Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, and a bunch of dregs in ’02? Probably pretty decent, don’t you think?

8/31: Missouri 36, Kansas 9. Instead of shocking Illinois in St. Louis, Mizzou starts the season by whooping KU in Kansas City. The original score of this game was 34-12, but I added a few extra points to the margin because of the “Who the hell is this guy?” shock value. And of course, if the game’s in Kansas City, Mizzou players don’t help tear down the goalposts.

The original season opener—a 33-20 win over Illinois—had probably my all-time favorite John Kadlec moment. Brad Smith scores a TD, Mike Kelly says something to the effect of “Missouri fans, you’ve got yourself a quarterback.” John Kadlec, damn-near blubbering in the booth, responds with “We have a quarterback.”

9/7: Missouri 41, Ball State 6. This one happened.

9/14: Oklahoma 31, Missouri 24. Couldn’t resist adding this game as a non-conference matchup. Just too great a game to let pass by. (Unintended consequences of adding this as a non-conference game: no home-and-home with Troy. Oopsie.)

9/21: Bowling Green 51, Missouri 28. This makes sense. Coming off of an OU game in which the nation started paying attention to Missouri again, the Tigers roll to Bowling Green and get demolished to fall to 2-2.

I should also mention that this was quite easily the worst road trip The Beef and I have ever attempted. Between the game result, the fact that I’d been broken up with the week before, and the fact that we stayed in Chicago with a friend of mine Saturday night and heard some woman screaming “Help me!” on the street at 3 in the morning, this trip simply blew. Luckily there was the 5-minute respite of humor that was a Bowling Green cop telling us not to shit on the grass.

10/5: Missouri 38, Minnesota 30. Pinkel’s Tigers regroup after a week off and take care of business against a typical decent Glen Mason team.

10/12: Missouri 41, Michigan State 30. The Spartans were down in ’02, and Missouri takes advantage, moving to 2-0 in conference and 4-2 overall.

10/19: Missouri 34, Wisconsin 21. Wisconsin was actually pretty mediocre in ’02 as well, and you can see how Missouri benefits from a much weaker offensive league.

10/26: Michigan 30, Missouri 28. Really, there were only 3 strong teams in the Big Ten this season, but Michigan was one of them. Mizzou can’t quite spring the upset at home.

11/2: Missouri 33, Northwestern 20. Northwestern was terrible in ’02.

11/9: Iowa 38, Missouri 37. Remember how painful the Iowa State road loss (the one where Seneca Wallace accounted for about 1,200 total yards and drove the length of the field in the final seconds) was in ’02? We’ll say Iowa is still the new Iowa State. Mizzou falls to 6-4 overall and Iowa clinches the West Division title.

11/16: Missouri 42, Indiana 27. Yeah, the bottom half of the Big Ten was really pretty bad this year.

11/23: Missouri 27, Illinois 24. This game’s in Champaign, and the Brad Smith shock value obviously doesn’t apply on November 23, but Illinois just didn’t have it this year, and I say Brad Smith comes through on the road. Mizzou finishes 6-2/8-4, and Brad Smith and Gary Pinkel are heroes in Columbia.

West Division
Iowa – 7-1 (10-2)
Missouri – 6-2 (8-4)
Wisconsin – 3-5 (8-5)
Minnesota – 3-5 (7-5)
Illinois – 3-5 (4-8)
Northwestern – 0-8 (2-10)

East Division
Ohio State – 7-1 (12-1) (They don’t go undefeated due to a loss in Iowa City)
Michigan – 7-1 (10-2)
Purdue – 5-3 (7-5)
Penn State – 4-4 (8-4)
Michigan State – 2-6 (4-8)
Indiana – 1-7 (3-9)

West Conference Record: 22-26
East Conference Record: 26-22

Big Ten Championship: Ohio State 17, Iowa 14

Big Ten Bowls
Motor City: Minnesota 31, Toledo 25
Music City: Purdue 37, Arkansas 17
Alamo: Wisconsin 31, Colorado 28
Sun: Penn State 20, Washington 17

Outback: Florida 38, Missouri 30. The Tigers find more success in a relatively weak Big Ten, but they still don’t have enough defense to take down Ron Zook’s first Gator squad. Still...going from 3-8 to the Outback Bowl in one year is quite the achievement.

Capital One: Michigan 23, Auburn 21
Orange: USC 38, Iowa 17
Fiesta: Ohio State 31, Miami-FL 24. Ohio State’s loss to Iowa doesn’t keep them out of the National Title Game, where they still pull off the massive, pass-interference-aided upset of the Hurricanes.


People were taking notice of Mizzou in ’03, even though they were coming off of a 5-7 season. Imagine what the difference would have been after 8 wins and a New Years Day bowl? I’d say Missouri is preseason Top 15-20. Which makes a season-starting KU loss pretty hard to swallow. How does Missouri recover?

8/30: Kansas 35, Missouri 17. Perhaps you remember this one? Zack Abron runs wild but barely touches the ball in the 4th quarter?

9/6: Missouri 38, Ball State 3. Nice rebound.

9/13: Oklahoma 34, Missouri 13. This game was basically even aside from a 5-minute span in the 2nd quarter. Unfortunately, all 60 minutes count, and Missouri falls to 1-2.

9/20: Missouri 41, Middle Tennessee 40. Missouri is down 34-26 and 90 seconds away from falling to a disastrous 1-3 when Brad Smith and J.D. McCoy (remember his unbelievable 4th down catch where he damn near dislocated both kneecaps?) save the day in regulation and the Middle Tennessee kicker falter on a PAT in overtime. The season is saved...for now.

10/4: Missouri 24, Michigan State 21. The season is saved again by this narrow home win over an improving Michigan State squad.

10/11: Michigan 35, Missouri 17. The ’03 Tigers were great at home and bad on the road. This game was on the road.

10/25: Missouri 34, Minnesota 21. A week off rejuvenates the Tigers and sets up a surprising road win. Missouri moves to 2-1 in conference and 4-3 overall.

11/1: Wisconsin 28, Missouri 24. A surprising road win is followed by a surprising home loss.

11/8: Northwestern 31, Missouri 21. We’ll just say Tigerboard erupts with naysayers as Mizzou moves to 4-5.

11/15: Missouri 31, Iowa 21. Mizzou saves its season for the third time, moving to 5-5 with a tough home win.

11/22: Missouri 31, Indiana 24. Lucky for Mizzou, one of their road games is in Bloomington. Mizzou clinches bowl eligibility at 6-5, and due to a super-weak West Division (and wins over Iowa and Minnesota), Mizzou can somehow clinch the West with a win over Illinois.

11/29: Missouri 24, Illinois 14. Illinois is 1-10 heading into Thanksgiving weekend. No way do they stand in the way of Mizzou clinching the West at home.

West Division
Missouri – 5-3 (7-5)
Iowa – 5-3 (9-3)
Minnesota – 5-3 (9-3)
Wisconsin – 4-4 (7-5)
Northwestern – 3-5 (5-7)
Illinois – 0-8 (1-11)

East Division
Michigan – 7-1 (10-2)
Ohio State – 6-2 (10-2)
Purdue – 6-2 (9-3)
Michigan State – 5-3 (8-4)
Penn State – 2-6 (4-8)
Indiana – 0-8 (1-11)

West Conference Record: 22-26
East Conference Record: 26-22

Big Ten Championship: Missouri 34, Michigan 31. I couldn’t resist. In 2003, Mizzou pulled off its single-best win in the last 20 years with a home win over Nebraska. There was no equivalent to that win during the regular season, so we’ll say it comes in St. Louis in the Big Ten Championship. I mean...why the hell not? It’s Mizzou’s first Big Ten title!

Big Ten Bowls
Motor City: Bowling Green 28, Wisconsin 17
Music City: Auburn 23, Michigan State 7
Sun: Minnesota 31, Oregon 30
Alamo: Iowa 21, Nebraska 20
Outback: Purdue 31, Florida 26
Capital One: Michigan 27, Georgia 24
Fiesta: Ohio State 35, Kansas State 28

Rose: USC 28, Missouri 16. No matter how momentous an occasion it would be to see Brad Smith in the Rose Bowl, there’s nothing Missouri can do to beat USC in this game. So ends the greatest 8-6 season in Mizzou history.


There’s no way Missouri could have avoided being overrated going into 2004. An 8-5 season and an Independence Bowl loss led to Preseason Top 15 predictions. So now add a Rose Bowl to the mix. Yikes.

9/4: Kansas 24, Missouri 14. This game was one yellow flag from becoming the greatest comeback in Missouri history. The Tigers had made up half of a 28-point 4th-quarter deficit when Damien Nash took a swing pass 58 yards for a touchdown. With Missouri within a touchdown and the crowd at a half-empty Memorial Stadium (the other half had left by the start of the 4th quarter), no way would they be losing this game.

Only, Martin Rucker got called for a hold that nobody could find on the video. And then KU won easily. Now, part of the reason KU got up 28-0 was because MU was spent after about 15 straight blown leads and losses. It wouldn’t have happened that way at the beginning of the season. But I think KU still would have won. Without Troy on the schedule, this becomes the new Troy. And Missouri once again starts a ‘high expectations’ season on a horrid note.

9/11: Missouri 52, Arkansas State 20. Missouri bounces back at least a little.

9/18: Missouri 45, Ball State 3. This one’s in Muncie instead of Columbia, but the result is basically the same.

10/2: Missouri 30, Minnesota 24. Missouri moves to 3-1 on the season and mid-teens in the polls.

10/9: Penn State 22, Missouri 21. Now the fun begins.

10/16: Ohio State 27, Missouri 24. Missouri loses back-to-back heartbreakers, but they looked okay doing it. Either way, though, they’re 3-3 and on their way to below-expectations season.

10/23: Northwestern 27, Missouri 20. We’ll call this the Big Ten version of the Oklahoma State loss.

10/30: Wisconsin 31, Missouri 19. Judging by how this season actually went, we’ll say Mizzou was up 16-0 before falling apart. At 3-5, Mizzou’s bowl hopes are on life support.

11/6: Purdue 31, Missouri 28. And here’s the death blow. Another blown lead on Senior Day leads to a 2-4 home record for ’04.

11/13: Iowa 15, Missouri 14. Tigers put up a fight, but lose to the eventual West champions.

11/27: Missouri 21, Illinois 16. A six-game losing streak is snapped in what basically amounts to Mizzou’s bowl game.

West Division
Iowa – 7-1 (9-2)
Wisconsin – 5-3 (8-3)
Northwestern – 3-5 (4-7)
Minnesota – 2-6 (5-6)
Missouri – 2-6 (4-7)
Illinois – 0-8 (2-9)

East Division
Ohio State – 7-1 (10-1)
Michigan – 7-1 (9-2)
Michigan State – 5-3 (6-5)
Purdue – 4-4 (7-4)
Penn State – 4-4 (6-5)
Indiana – 2-6 (4-7)

West Conference Record: 19-29
East Conference Record: 29-19

Big Ten Championship: Iowa 30, Ohio State 7

Big Ten Bowls
Music City: Michigan State 27, Alabama 9
Sun: Arizona State 27, Purdue 23
Alamo: Wisconsin 28, Oklahoma 7
Outback: Michigan 31, Georgia 26
Capital One: Ohio State 20, LSU 16
Rose: Texas 31, Iowa 28


So begins Gary Pinkel’s restoration project. Just like with Larry Smith, Mizzou followed up a crowning achievement with a hugely disappointing season. To avoid Larry’s fate, he needed a strong rebound in ’05.

9/3: Kansas 13, Missouri 3. Not really the way you want to start a reclamation project.

9/10: New Mexico 45, Missouri 35. Uh oh.

9/17: Missouri 44, Arkansas State 17. Slight rebound.

10/1: Missouri 27, Iowa 16. Back to .500 with a solid home win.

10/8: Ohio State 34, Missouri 23. And back under .500 we go.

10/15: Northwestern 30, Missouri 24. Missouri need to win 4 of 5 to qualify for a bowl.

10/22: Penn State 28, Missouri 27. Really, the Rose Bowl bid is about the only thing saving Gary Pinkel’s job at this point.

11/5: Missouri 38, Wisconsin 35. We’ll say Chase Daniel throws a late TD pass and saves the season for now. However, 3-5 is still the record.

11/12: Missouri 31, Purdue 20. Purdue really wasn’t very good this year, and Mizzou’s offense is rolling. 4-5.

11/19: Missouri 35, Minnesota 33. Back to back road wins, and the season comeback is almost complete.

11/26: Missouri 31, Illinois 12. Ron Zook’s first Big Ten season ends without a conference win, and Mizzou’s never been so happy to qualify for a minor bowl.

West Division
Iowa – 6-2 (8-3)
Wisconsin – 5-3 (9-3)
Missouri – 5-3 (6-5)
Northwestern – 4-4 (6-5)
Minnesota – 3-5 (6-5)
Illinois – 0-8 (2-9)

East Division
Penn State – 8-0 (11-0)
Ohio State – 6-2 (8-3)
Michigan – 6-2 (8-3)
Michigan State – 2-6 (5-6)
Purdue – 2-6 (4-7)
Indiana – 1-7 (4-7)

West Conference Record: 23-25
East Conference Record: 25-23

Big Ten Championship: Penn State 27, Iowa 21. Penn State moves to 12-0, but as always seems to be the case, they choose the wrong year to go undefeated. The national title game is still USC vs Texas, and Penn State is playing for #2.

Big Ten Bowls
Motor City: Northwestern 42, Akron 40

Music City: Missouri 38, Virginia 34. Completing the “comeback” theme of 2005, Missouri falls down 28-7 before raging back in the second half. Sound familiar?

Sun: UCLA 41, Iowa 34
Alamo: Nebraska 32, Michigan 28
Outback: Ohio State 28, Florida 27
Capital One: Wisconsin 24, Auburn 10
Orange: Penn State 26, Florida State 23. (PSU completes an undefeated, non-national title season)


The Chase Daniel Era, which sort of began with his dramatic season saver versus Wisconsin, comes in full-force in 2006. Most prognosticators pick Mizzou fifth, ahead of just Illinois, but after a few years of expectations built for disappointment, the opportunity to surprise people comes as a nice change.

9/2: Missouri 42, Kansas 17. Daniel starts off with something Brad Smith could only do once.

9/9: Missouri 34, Ole Miss 7. I’m sure that, Big Ten or Big 12, The Sporting News decides that Brent Schaeffer’s incoming presence is enough to take out little old Missouri in Columbia.

Yes, I’m still bitter about that. Not that it mattered...

9/16: Missouri 27, New Mexico 17. A 2-0 start is not something Mizzou is used to.

9/23: Missouri 31, Ohio 6. With Mizzou in the Big Ten, they have no history with Frank Solich...but they still win this one pretty easy.

9/30: Missouri 26, Wisconsin 23. The Big Ten version of the Texas Tech win. And quietly, Missouri has an uneblievable 10-game winning streak dating back to the 2005 Wisconsin win.

10/14: Missouri 37, Minnesota 14. Eleven straight wins, Chase Daniel is God, and Pinkel moves to 5-1 versus Glen Mason. At 6-0, Missouri makes its way into the Top 10...

10/21: Michigan State 24, Missouri 22. ...and falls right back out with a stunning road loss. Michigan State threatened to be a good team a couple times last year before imploding...we’ll call this the Big Ten version of the Iowa State loss.

10/28: Missouri 24, Northwestern 17. An underwhelming performance, but Missouri moves to 7-1 nonetheless.

11/4: Michigan 31, Missouri 27. Chase Daniel’s first home loss.

11/11: Iowa 24, Missouri 17. Missouri’s lost three of four, and the season is ending the exact opposity as the one before.

11/18: Missouri 51, Indiana 27. Luckily, Indiana’s bad.

11/25: Missouri 31, Illinois 12. So is Illinois. Yeah yeah, no worse than Iowa State, but...bite me. We already had our ‘loss to an outgoing coach’ against Michigan State. Mizzou finishes 9-3, though the loss to the Spartans costs them the West Division title.

West Division
Wisconsin – 6-2 (10-2)
Missouri – 5-3 (9-3)
Iowa – 3-5 (7-5)
Minnesota – 3-5 (6-6)
Northwestern – 3-5 (5-7)
Illinois – 1-7 (2-10)

East Division
Ohio State – 8-0 (12-0)
Michigan – 7-1 (11-1)
Penn State – 5-3 (8-4)
Purdue – 4-4 (7-6)
Michigan State – 2-6 (5-7)
Indiana – 1-7 (3-9)

West Conference Record: 21-27
East Conference Record: 27-21

Big Ten Championship: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 28

Big Ten Bowls
Motor City: Purdue 24, Central Michigan 23
Insight: Texas Tech 44, Minnesota 41
Alamo: Texas 26, Iowa 24
Champs Sports: Penn State 20, Maryland 17

Outback: Missouri 27, Tennessee 24. While Missouri fought Oregon State to a stalemate in their bowl game, Tennessee was underwhelming against Penn State in theirs. Missouri hops out to a lead in the fourth quarter, and UT doesn’t have the offensive firepower to come back like Oregon State did. Missouri wins 10 games for the first time since 1998.

Capital One: Wisconsin 17, Arkansas 14
Rose: USC 32, Michigan 18
BCS Championship: Florida 41, Ohio State 14


So that brings us to the present day. Missouri returns its entire offense, and the Wisconsin-Missouri matchup is a big one. Using Phil Steele’s rankings, the Big Ten preseason rankings would shake down like this:

West Division
#16 Wisconsin
#19 Missouri (though with a New Years win, they’d probably be closer to #10-13)
#29 Iowa
#43 Illinois

East Division
#5 Michigan
#10 Penn State
#15 Ohio State
#35 Purdue
Michigan State

While the bottom four teams are likely to be pretty horrid, the top 2/3 of the conference are pretty loaded. However, with home games against Wisconsin and Iowa, Missouri is likely the West favorite.

Heading into its 12th season in the Big Ten in alternate-2007, Missouri has experienced higher highs (1998, 2003) and lower lows (2004) than they did in the Big 12. Their annual matchup with Illinois has taken the feel of a significant rivalry game--complete with suprise upsets and strange happenings--while the rivalry with Kansas is as intense and strange as ever.

At this point I should repeat my note from Part Two:

My aim with these posts is not to say we should or shouldn't have joined the conference. Again, I grew up with Big 8 rivalries, and getting caught up in battles with Minnesota and Northwestern instead of Oklahoma State and Kansas State would have taken a lot of getting used to. Until I found out about the emerging Big Ten Network, I never even gave the conference switch idea a second thought. The fact that the Big Ten does indeed have its own cable network in the works got me starry-eyed a bit (that seems like quite the unfair advantage right there), but I'll get over it.
That still stands. I love the Big 12...okay, let me clarify: I love playing the teams we play in the Big 12. It's what I'm used to. I'm a lot more interested in the goings on of Oklahoma State and Colorado than I am Iowa and Indiana. But it's interesting to think about, isn't it?