I guess we shouldn’t have expected anything earth-shaking out of SEC Media Days with regards to Mizzou Football.Sure, head coach Gary Pinkel got more than nine questions from the assembled press this time around. Many of those questions related to on-field performance, and not some lofty thoughts about whether the Tigers “belong” in the SEC.
But looking more closely, the skepticism lingered. Departed Dorial Green-Beckham was invoked by the media.
“We lost a really great player. I wish Dorial the best,” Pinkel replied. “We don’t have to replace a receiver to a receiver necessarily. There are other ways we can go. That’s our challenge getting into August, how we’re going to handle that.”
The masses still wondered. How can you reload in the nation’s toughest conference – much less win another SEC East crown – with a recruiting class that ranks in the 30’s nationally, near the bottom of the league? Pinkel was patient again.
“In the last seven years, even with our crummy season in 2012, we’re the eighth-winningest BCS program in the country for those five years. If you took our recruiting, I think our so called rating, I’d say we’re between 28 and 32 average, somewhere like that. Something’s wrong there.
“All I’m going to say about that, I think our recruiting process is different. I think we have a system that we believe in. That’s what we do at Mizzou. I think our Player Development Program is second to none. We call it ‘Mizzou Made.'”
So it’s obvious the scribes assembled in Hoover still had some learning to do about Mizzou… or maybe the Tigers just have to show them once again, as the state motto would suggest. A media poll released Thursday says Missouri will rank fourth in the SEC East, behind a Florida team that went 4-8 (3-5) last season and got a 36-17 beatdown at the hands of the Tigers. No Missouri player was named to the conference’s preseason first-team, although defensive end Markus Golden nabbed a spot on the All-SEC reserves.
It seems to be familiar territory for a team that has averaged nine wins per season over its last seven years, arguably the golden age of Missouri Football. No respect. But that will change with more road wins, more “upsets,” more eyeballs on the team nobody thought could fit in with the big, bad SEC.
The followers of the conference will likely learn there’s more than one way to build a football program… and that senior substance can trump sexy stars next to a player’s name.
Respect will arrive slowly… but it will arrive.