31 December 2011

SEC Schedule Released

Conference releases schedule
by Mizzou Matt
The Southeastern Conference released their conference schedule for next season on Tuesday, Dec. 27th at 10am eastern time. Mizzou draws a hearty schedule among the East division.

9/8 vs Georgia
10/6 vs Vanderbilt
10/13 vs Alabama
10/27 vs Kentucky (Homecoming)

9/22 @ South Carolina
11/3 @ Florida
11/10 @ Tennessee
11/24 @ Texas A&M

This is just the CONFERENCE schedule. The full schedule is still being worked on, as per mutigers.com, and will be released sometime at the beginning of 2012. This will be the third straight year that the Tigers have played Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

Mizzou Hoops Update

Men, women winners on 12/30
by Mizzou Matt
The University of Missouri men's basketball team has already matched it's best start since the 1981-82 season. They looked to add to their 12-0 record and close out conference play against Old Dominion in Norfolk, VA. Marcus Denmon, the Big 12's leading scorer, netted 19 in Missouri's 75-68 victory to move to 13-0.

ODU is the same team that trailed Kentucky by a point with seven minutes to play, and many felt this game was a trap game to give Missouri their first loss. The Tigers came away with the victory, with Denmon coming through in clutch situations, and close out conference play undefeated. The Tigers return home after the new year to take on Oklahoma in their Big 12 conference opener on Jan. 3rd.

The Mizzou women's team is off to an historic start. Their only loss so far this season was a four-point loss to the Northwestern Wildcats. After last night's 66-48 victory over Sam Houston State, the lady Tigers improve to 10-1 on the year.

27 December 2011

Broken trophy? Put it on our tab....

Tigers maul the Tar Heels
by Mizzou Matt
The original trophy
SHREVEPORT, LA- We'll go by the numbers: Eight. That's the number of bowl games that Gary Pinkel has led Missouri to in his 11 years as head coach. Three. That's how many they've won of the previous seven. 84. Pinkel's win count at Mizzou leading up to the Independence Bowl. Three. The number of appearances Missouri has made in Shreveport. One. One game left as members of the Big 12 Conference.

The University of Missouri (8-5, 5-4) looked to do something that they haven't been consistent at doing- win a bowl game. In the previous 28, the Tigers are just 12-16.

Improve that record to 13-16 with a dominant performance by the Tiger squad as they rolled over the North Carolina Tar Heels (7-6, 3-5) by a score of 41-24. Powered by sophomore quarterback James Franklin, the Tigers scored 31 points on all five of their first half possessions- both a school record for points scored in any half, and an Independence Bowl record.

The Tar Heels, who entered the game 7-5, 3-5 ACC, were touted as having "NFL talent" and one of the best rushing defenses in the country, allowing just 106 yards per game on the ground. The Tigers ripped them up for 337 as a whole. Franklin paved the way with 142 yards while Kendial Lawrence plugged UNC's holey defense with 108 of his own. Franklin had two touchdowns on the ground, Lawrence with a solo score.

The passing game wasn't there, mainly because it wasn't needed. The Tigers stuck to a game plan that worked. Franklin went just 15/23 for 132 yards and a TD, but the big play of the night was a double-pass from Franklin to wide receiver TJ Moe, Moe to a wide open Wes Kemp on a 40-yd score to tie the game at 7. Moe finished 1/2 on the game, 2/3 on the year for 71 yards. Senior quarterback Jimmy Costello completed his final pass as a Tiger, netting four yards.

Broken trophy. courtesy: Mizzou Alumni Association
Shreveport native L'Damian Washington got some cheers from his hometown crowd, grabbing three balls for 47 yards, including a big 22 yard gain on third down. Washington's homecoming was bittersweet as he got to spend Christmas with his brothers. The Washington's mother passed away a few years ago, and their father ten years before that.

The comical side of the game actually occurred before the kickoff, during pregame festivities. Mizzou's mascot, Truman the Tiger, broke the crystal bowl that sat atop the Independence Bowl trophy. A backup was brought in from a local retailer, and the vase is twice the size of the original crystal. Many thought it to be a bad omen, a precursor of what would come- poor ball control. While Truman fumbled the trophy, fans hoped that would be the only fumbling done by the Tigers.

Turnovers turned out to be the Achilles heel for the Tar Heels, as Giovani Bernard fumbled the ball, recovered by senior defensive end Jacquies Smith. Linebacker Zavier Gooden intercepted a Bryn Renner pass that was intended for UNC's Dwight Jones, after the ball rolled across Jones' back. Missouri turned both of those into points. The lone Tiger turnover was a Franklin pass, but to James' defense, his arm was hit as he released the ball by Quinton Coples. Mizzou went +1 for the game.

Grant Ressel was reported to have been warming up prior to the game, making field goals of about 40 yards. He was not used, however, as junior punter/placekicker Trey Barrow connected on 2/2 with a long of 31 yards.

photo courtesy: Rolandis Woodland
With the win, Mizzou increases their overall record to 630-520-52, and moves Gary Pinkel one win closer to Dan Devine and Don Faurot. The 17-pt margin is just the third bowl game to be decided by more than 10 points this year. It's also the first time since 1965 that the Tigers won their last four games of the season.

The old saying "You break it, you buy it!" continued it's relevance last night as the Tigers said "No big deal." Will Missouri get stuck with the bill for the new trophy? If so, they can always say "Hey Chuck [Neinas], you got this, right?"

23 December 2011

Leaked Schedule?

Based on preliminary reports
by Mizzou Matt
COLUMBIA, MO- It's not even the official end of the 2011 NCAA football season, and there is already speculation about 2012. Rumors are starting to float around about the University of Missouri's probable 2012 conference schedule, their first in the Southeastern Conference. According to the story at http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post?id=35615, the Tigers' first year in conference will probably look something like this:

Texas A&M
S. Carolina

Those with a keen eye to detail (and a penchant for recent memories) will notice that if this is the layout of the '12 schedule, it will be the third year in a row traveling to College Station, TX to play the Aggies. Mizzou is 2-0 in their last two trips, but A&M still leads the overall series 7-5. Others might notice that this schedule is a slight variation of the one that was "leaked" by Tennessee a few weeks ago that put Ole Miss as one of Mizzou's probable SEC West opponents.

Realistically, Mizzou should win two of those four conference home games- Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Tigers haven't played the Commodores since 1958 (last win was 1896), and they're currently on the losing end of a 1-2 series against the Wildcats, but those teams have been far removed from the national spotlight, even though Vanderbilt made it to the bowl season this year. The Georgia game could go either way, as the Bulldogs have found a resurgence since losing Matt Stafford to the NFL. The Dawgs played, and lost, in the SEC Championship this year, and they have excellent depth returning next season. But, if I had to put a peg on the first loss of the season, it'd be the Alabama game. I strongly feel the game against the Tide will most likely be the first loss in the SEC for Mizzou. 

On the away side, however, the Tigers' recent victories against A&M (W 30-9 in 2010, W 38-31 F/OT in 2011) is not an indication of future success. Same goes for the Mizzou's 2-0 record against the Gamecocks of South Carolina. Their one and only meeting against Florida was in the 1960s, and the football squad has never faced off against Tennessee on the gridiron. Based upon those teams' past results, the S. Carolina game will be a tough one, especially if Marcus Lattimore can stay healthy. Florida had a down year in 2010, going just 5-7, but this year, their record is reversed and they're playing in a bowl game. As for Tennessee, they should just stick to basketball.

Steve Spurrier, coach of the Gamecocks, has built a solid recruiting platform in Columbia, SC, which is amazing considering that Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and Florida are all located within driving distance of the campus. Throw Auburn and Alabama in the mix as wild cards just to be safe. Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel has put a coach in Atlanta and two coaches in Florida to try and get a head start on recruiting in an area that's dominated by Dawgs and Gators. Urban Meyer, who was coach of Florida, now the coach of Ohio State, still has strong ties in the Southeast region, and much to the discontent of the continued disgruntled moans of Gator fans, he'll exercise those ties to get players in the Buckeye scarlet and gray.

Based upon the schedule above, what can Tiger fans expect? I feel it is all based upon one overlying factor: RETURNING PERSONNEL. 

We're losing our starting defensive line- Dominique Hamilton, Terrell Resonno, Jacquies Smith; though we do have depth that saw a large amount of playing time in 2011 in the forms of Sheldon Richardson, Brad Madison and Kony Ealy. (It's uncertain at this point if Richardson and Madison will return for senior and 5th-year seasons.) Linebacker Luke Lambert bids Mizzou a farewell, but with Zavier Gooden likely returning, and the announcement of Will Ebner coming back for a fifth year, they bring a presence and leadership that only veterans can bring. If Ebner stays healthy, the linebacker corps will be tough for Mizzou. The secondary is again depleted with the departures of Trey Hobson and Kenji Jackson, but some promising recruits, along with a vast selection of players that will be sophomores and juniors next year, are inbound just in time for the 2012 spring kickoff.

On the offensive side, the O-line is virtually gone. Dan Hoch, Austin Wuebbles, Jayson Palmgren are all graduating, along with Elvis Fisher, but the NCAA has granted Fisher a 6th year of eligibility due to his knee injury before the season started. Fisher has yet to decide to exercise that 6th year or not. The Tigers do have James Franklin coming back, and he'll have good support from Corbin Berkstresser, Ryan Howerton, and Ashton Glaser- the likely successor to the backup job. Incoming freshman Maty Mauk will provide for some interesting toying of the depth chart during spring ball, if Pinkel decides to not redshirt him in his first year. Franklin does have the upper hand on retaining his starting role, now with a full season of starts under his belt. Franklin also became just the second Tiger in history to rush for 10 and pass for 10 touchdowns in one season.

The receiving squad was led by T.J. Moe yet again in 2011. It's uncertain as of right now if T.J. will return for a senior season, or if he'll forgo and declare for the NFL draft. The Tigers are also losing All-American tight end Michael Egnew, along with wide receivers Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson. Top-rated wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham hasn't decided on which college he'll take his talents to, but Mizzou is on his short list of possibilities. It's a long road ahead for Henry Josey, but his return can't be ruled out 100% yet. The sophomore tailback led the team with 1,100+ yards of rushing in '11.

Depending on who returns for the inaugural season in the SEC, the Tigers have a realistic chance of making it to a school-record 8th straight bowl game under Pinkel. Overall, we're looking at a relatively young team. Looking at the roster from this year, here's what we're looking at as far as age of the 2012 team (assuming those with eligibility remaining return, and the list includes some incoming freshmen, assuming they sign with Mizzou on Feb. 1)-
  • Defensive backs
    • Seven sophomores (Browning, Easterly, Johnson, Simon, X. Smith, Payton, B. Webb)
    • Three juniors (Ponder, Gaines, Davis)
    • Two seniors (Edwards, Steeples)
  • Defensive line
    • Six sophomores
    • Three juniors
    • Five seniors (Richardson, Madison, White, Struckhoff, Burge)
  • Linebackers
    • Six sophomores
    • Four juniors
    • Two seniors (Ebner, Gooden)
  • Offensive line
    • 11 sophomores
    • Three juniors
    • Two seniors (Meiners, Ruth)
  • Placekickers/Punters
    • Three sophomores (Brinser, Baggett, Owens)
    • One senior (Trey Barrow)
  • Quarterback
    • One freshman (Maty Mauk)
    • Two sophomores (C. Berkstresser, K. Webb)
    • Three juniors (Franklin, A. Glaser, R. Howerton)
  • Tailback
    • Three sophomores (White, Hunt Wright)
    • Two juniors (Josey, Murphy)
    • Two seniors (Lawrence, Culver)
  • Tight End
    • One freshman (Sean Culkin)
    • One junior (Eric Waters)
    • One senior (Stephen Drain)
  • Wide Receiver
    • Three sophomores (Hunt, Leftwich, Sasser)
    • Five juniors (Clark, Lucas, Peasel, Stricker, Washington)
    • Four seniors (Moe, McGaffie, Woodland, Joe Plevel)
What do you think of the possible schedule? Join us on the Mizzou Nation Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MizzouNation1839, or join the conversation on Twitter with the author @Mizzou1891.

22 December 2011

Braggin Rights

Tigers close out close game
by Mizzou Matt
ST. LOUIS, MO- The University of Missouri Tigers traveled to St. Louis for the 39th annual Braggin' Rights game against the Illinois Fighting Illini. Mizzou entered the game riding a two-game win streak in the series going into the ScottTrade Center, and with their hot 11-0 start, they looked to make it three straight.

The Tigers struggled early, allowing Illinois to get up to a 7-2 lead. After a 7-0 run by Mizzou put the Tigers on top, and they would carry a lead throughout most of the game. The Tigers carried a 41-30 point advantage at the 20:00 break. That eleven-point lead would grow, shrink, grow, shrink, grow again, then ultimately vanish as the second half wore on.

Accompanied with questionable shot selection by the Tigers and outstanding offensive production, the Illini wiped a 14-pt deficit off the books and took a lead late in the game. Thanks to a strong finish by Mizzou, capped off by a Flip Pressey layup and two Michael Dixon free throws, the Tigers closed out a close victory to earn their third straight Braggin' Rights title, and their 12th win of the season. The final in St. Louis: 78-74. The win marks the first time since the 1981-82 season that the Tigers have started with a 12-0 record.

Michael Dixon, coming off a career-high 30-pt performance against William & Mary, netted 18 along with Phil "Flip" Pressey to lead the Tiger scoring. Flip's older brother, Matt Pressey contributed 10 points, and a highlight reel dunk at the end of the first half. Ricardo Ratliffe added 14 and became the fourth Tiger in double-digit scoring. Marcus Denmon and Kim English both finished with 8 points a piece, and Steve Moore with 2. Kadeem Green, Jarrett Sutton, Andy Rosburg and Andrew Jones were not used in tonight's game.

The Tigers take on the Old Dominion Monarchs on December 30th with 6pm/CT tipoff time before returning home to open conference play against the Oklahoma Sooners on January 3rd. The game against the Sooners has a 7pm/CT start time.

Box score from tonight's Illinois game:
On the women's side, the Tigers continue their own hot start as they move to 9-1 following a 58-48 win over Memphis. Christine Flores surpassed the 1,000 point mark in today's game.

17 December 2011

Tigers realistic about the challenges ahead (CDT)

via Columbia Daily Tribune

Tigers realistic about the challenges ahead

Flores, Brock are keys to fast start.

The Missouri women’s basketball team was picked to finish last
in the Big 12. With Christine Flores leading the way, the Tigers
have started the season 7-1 against modest competition.
The Missouri women’s basketball team was picked to finish last in the Big 12. With Christine Flores leading the way, the Tigers have started the season 7-1 against modest competition.

Not long ago, the Missouri women’s basketball team would have oozed with defiance at low outside expectations.

At the 2005 Big 12 Conference media day, former Coach Cindy Stein instructed an aide to provide reporters with packages of Lakota coffee after league coaches selected the Tigers 10th in their preseason rankings.

“We figured we needed to wake you all up,” Stein said.

Times have changed.

This season, even as MU (7-1) has matched its best start since 1982, second-year Coach Robin Pingeton is tempering expectations.

“I don’t know why they wouldn’t pick us last,” Pingeton said this week. “Really, that’s where we’re at, and that’s the challenge ahead. We’re young, inexperienced and we graduated our best player from a year ago.”

Just don’t confuse her ties to reality to low internal expectations. Of Missouri’s hot start, she and her players repeat the company line: pleased but not surprised.

They may be the only ones. Although the Tigers’ seven victories have come over teams from outside the major conferences, they have displayed flashes of promise in a season that appeared the most daunting in program history.

Missouri, which hosts Evansville on Monday, returned only two players who averaged more than 11 minutes last season and lost its most dynamic player in years. All-conference guard RaeShara Brown, who led MU in every major statistical category, almost single-handedly guided the Tigers to five conference victories — their best season since 2007.

But an influx of new talent and the dual rise of senior forwards Christine Flores and BreAnna Brock have created a successful new dynamic. While the Tigers remain in the earliest stages of a massive rebuilding project — their most touted recruits are high school underclassmen — they have given their loyal core of supporters a compelling reason to pay attention to the present.

“Being an underdog is not ideal, but it’s OK,” Flores said. “You can go in, and maybe people don’t expect the best out of you. Then they’re like, ‘Whoa, this team can really turn this program around and do some spectacular things this year.’ It’s not as bad as everyone thinks.”

One reason is the Tigers’ balance. They are effective inside — Flores has twice been named Big 12 Player of the Week and is averaging 22.6 points, while Brock’s 15.8 points per game rank seventh in the league — and out. Led by freshman Morgan Eye and junior college transfer Liene Priede, the Big 12’s worst 3-point shooting team last year is shooting a conference-best 41.1 percent from beyond the arc — more than six percentage points ahead of second-place Kansas.

“On any given night last year, we depended on Rae a lot,” said Sydney Crafton, a junior guard from Jefferson City. “Now there’s so many people. Christine, LP, Morgan, every night it’s a different person.”

The Tigers have also reversed another Achilles’ heel: foul shooting. In a tangible testament to the increased hours Pingeton said her players put in over the summer, their 70.2 percent accuracy rate from the line is third in the Big 12. Last year, Missouri shot a league-worst 61.4 percent.

Whether the Tigers will be able to hold their own against Big 12 teams remains to be seen.

All Pingeton knows is that she won’t be bothered by the rock-bottom prospects others have forecasted for her team. In fact, she is unwilling to make any predictions herself.

“Absolutely we want to win,” she said. “I’m one of the worst losers you’ll ever meet. But I don’t think it’s fair to set this team up for that. It’s truly about the process. To have a successful program, to have a successful season, you have to stay focused on the process. ... We want to put ourselves in a situation where we don’t beat ourselves, controlling what we can control, and that’s our effort. I think night in and night out, our effort has been pretty good.

“I just don’t know that I’m willing to say that this team’s success is based on what that win-loss column is. You’ve got to take time to celebrate those little victories that don’t always show up on the scoreboard and in the stat book. We will get to the point where that will define us a little bit more clearly. But right now, that’s not where we’re at.”

Reach David Briggs at dbriggs@columbiatribune.com.

16 December 2011

Mizzou Hoops Preview

Tigers take on William & Mary, followed by Arch Rivalry
by Mizzou Matt
The University of Missouri basketball team may as well have a bye week for this Sunday's matchup against The Tribe of William & Mary (VA). The Tribe only has two wins on the year, and the game will probably resemble the Kennesaw State game (W 104-67). The toughest test of the season lies in wait after this Sunday's game: Illinois. The annual Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis.

Both teams will likely be undefeated and ranked in the top 25 when they meet. Head coach Frank Haith has to keep them focused and disciplined. They started losing their discipline in the first half of the Kennesaw State game, as shown by their sloppy passing and questionable shot selection. Though they got their act together during halftime, it was still an area of concern addressed by Haith during postgame interviews.

"We didn't have that 'junkyard dog' mentality," said Haith in his postgame interview with Gary Link. "In the first half, we were playing too cool. We were playing like a Cadillac. We need to get back to that junkyard style of play."

So far this year, Mizzou has faced some good talent in Notre Dame, Cal and Villanova. Notre Dame wasn't ranked, but they are 7-4 on this young season, Cal was ranked 20th when we played them in the CBE Classic. They're now unranked and 8-2. Villanova isn't quite as good as they've been in year's past, which is illustrated by their 6-4 overall record. The Illinois game will be the second ranked opponent Mizzou has faced in non-conference play, and will be the toughest test yet. 

The numbers have been crunched, and here's how the two shape up: Illinois only has five games of double-digit wins, compared to Mizzou's 10. The Illini won by nine against Richmond, four against Illinois State, nine against Maryland, seven against Gonzaga, and five against SBON. The closest game that Missouri has played in this year was against Villanova, a 10-pt margin of victory. The Tigers are averaging a margin of 26.7 points per win, compared to Illinois' 15.1. Overall scoring, Illinois is averaging, 71.6 points per game which is 119th nationally, while Mizzou is averaging 87.3 (3rd). The Tigers' are offset by their 104 points against Kennesaw State while the Illini are offset by their 47-pt win over Chicago State.

The Braggin' Rights is always an entertaining game, but given the numbers above, (as well as having a favorable leaning toward the Tigers), I have to give the game to Mizzou. They may not win by 30+ like they did in four games this season (Niagara, Cal, Northwestern State, Kennesaw State), but they will, in my personal opinion, likely bring another Arch Rivalry trophy back to Columbia.

15 December 2011

Mizzou Hoops Moves to 10-0

Tigers post season-high 104
by Mizzou Matt
COLUMBIA, MO- The University of Missouri came into tonight's game looking to do something they haven't done in 20 years: go 10-0. They would do just that with a 37-point victory over the Kennesaw State Owls. Frank Haith's squad has won every game thus far by double digit margins, and their 26.7 point average win margin is the most in school history over the first ten games. The 1991-92 squad went 10-0 to start the season, averaging a 26.1 average margin of victory.

Despite coming out flat on both sides of the ball, with sloppy passing and questionable shots that helped keep the Owls (2-6) close at halftime, only trailing by 14, the Tigers used a strong second half to put the game out of reach. Matt Pressey was fouled hard with about 5:00 to play in the first half, but managed to overcome that and finished just shy of his career-high 18 points.

"We were playing too cool in the first half, and cool gets you beat," said Haith, "We were playing like a Cadillac. We were just going through the motions."

The first half was capped off by a Matt Pressey rebound for points as time expired.

"We gambled a lot in the first half," said assistant coach Issac Chew. "It was kind of lethargic, but we picked it up as the game went on."

Ricardo Ratliffe and Michael Dixon both led the Tigers offensively with 18 points each. Ratliffe led Mizzou defensively with seven rebounds. Marcus Denmon finished with 17 points, four steals and six rebounds. Matt Pressey and Kim English also finished with double digits, with 15 and 13 points, respectively. Phil "Flip" Pressey finished with nine points, but his 10 assists gives him 44 assists in the last five games. Kadeem Green finished with eight points and six rebounds, while Steve Moore contributed four points and two rebounds of his own. Andy Rosburg came in late off the bench and scored a bucket and grabbed a rebound to finish with two points of his own. Mizzou football tight end Andrew Jones, who played in his first basketball game against Navy, earned himself three minutes of playing time along with Jarrett Sutton.

Mizzou (10-0) used their down-low play to beat the Owls, scoring 62 points in the paint, while going 20/25 from the free-throw line. The Tigers also grabbed 14 steals as a team.

Attendance: 8,015- not bad considering today was the last day of finals and students were leaving campus to spend time with family. The Tigers, one of only nine remaining unbeaten teams, are back in action on Sunday as they host The Tribe of William & Mary.

12 December 2011

MU System to get New President

Announcement forthcoming
by Mizzou Matt
Interim president Steve Owens, Jan 7-Dec13, 2011
COLUMBIA, MO- The University of Missouri System (Columbia, Rolla, Kansas City, St. Louis) will have a new president after tomorrow. The System will announce it's 23rd president at the Reynolds Alumni Center on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 10a.

Steve Owens has served as interim president of the University since Gary Forsee resigned his position to the Board of Curators on January 7, 2011 after his wife Sherry was diagnosed with cancer.
22nd president Gary D. Forsee

11 December 2011

Behind the Stripes (CDT)

More from Sunday's bowl practice
by Dave Matter (CDT)
December 10th, 2011

A couple non-recruiting notes to pass along from Saturday's bowl practice ...

● Nothing new on the injury front. Freshman linebacker Kentrell Brothers, who broke his fibula and suffered ligament damage in his ankle during preseason camp, is participating in some drills and looks like he should be in the mix for the rotation next year. Will Ebner (ankle) is wearing a red pullover and doing some drills, as is cornerback Kip Edwards, who hurt his ankle working out during the week off after the Kansas game. (Ebner suffered a season-ending ankle injury the first game of the year and expects to return next fall for a fifth year.) Brad Madison (shoulder/knee) is sitting out full-contact drills but should be available for the Independence Bowl.

As for left tackle Elvis Fisher, the senior co-captain's status for 2012 is still uncertain. (He tore his patellar tendon in preseason camp and missed the season.) Pinkel said Fisher should hear from the NCAA in the next few weeks regarding a possible sixth year of eligibility, but Fisher has not decided whether he wants to come back regardless of the NCAA's ruling.

"We certainly want him to play," Pinkel said. "In his heart he's got to feel that it's the right thing for him. He's just waiting to hear back from the NCAA and hopefully we'll know in the next few weeks what that is. Physically, he's going to be fine. Every guy just has to wait for themselves, what's best for them. … We'd really like to have Elvis" return. "We haven't hard-core recruited him yet. That's coming."

● Pinkel said he was pleased to see voters for the Big 12 all-conference teams rewarded tailback Henry Josey with first-team recognition. Josey is still weeks away from undergoing a second surgery to repair damage suffered to his left knee in MU's Nov. 12 game against Texas. Pinkel continues to expect a full recovery, eventually.

"I'm sitting there five weeks ago saying we have this great player we're going to have for the next two years and then he has this," Pinkel said. "But he's doing really well." Surgeon "Pat Smith did a great job with him and he'll get better and better and better. He's such a high positive attitude player any way, if you've ever been around the guy. He's just a high energy, positive person. … He'll work through this. He'll need one more surgery after this. Then we'll see where we're at. It's about him competing through it, and he'll do that."

One of the most poignant storylines to come from Josey's injury is the role Ebner played in his teammate's time in the hospital. A couple players and family members have told me the senior linebacker never left Josey's side once he came out of surgery. The two played for rival Texas high schools Friendswood (Ebner) and Angelton (Josey) and became close once Josey arrived at MU in 2010. Pinkel recalled sitting in Josey's hospital room one day when his meal arrived and seeing Ebner fix it up with salt and pepper, ketchup and mustard.

"That was emotionally draining for me to spend 45 minutes in the hospital," Pinkel said, "let alone sitting there with him all night and caring for him and doing anything he could to make him feel comfortable, running to get the nurse if he needed it." … Ebner "was just serving the guy. 'He's my guy and I'm taking care of him.' We've got a real tight group of people around here, but that was a statement beyond statements for people caring about each other. It certainly says a tremendous amount about Will Ebner and the kind of person he is."

If there's such a thing as karma, Ebner's a guy who deserves an injury-free 2012 season.

● Pinkel expanded on the status of free safety Tavon Bolden, who has rejoined the team since his September dismissal for academic reasons. Bolden is practicing but will not play in the Independence Bowl. Pinkel expects him to go back on scholarship in January. Pinkel said Bolden's initial punishment was a "last, last resort."

"We have a system in place, and when you hit that spot, it doesn’t matter who you are," Pinkel said. 

"I've talked to people at a lot of places … and they wouldn't have done that. He's a starting safety, a guy that has potential to be a very high-level player. But in our program that's what we do. And that's what we had to do. Reluctantly, we had to do it. We didn't just say, 'Leave the university. See you later and good luck down the road.' We gave him another opportunity, an opporutnity to go out academically by himself and get committed to academics. If he did well, and we gave him parameters where his grade point average had to be and how many hours he had to pass, and if he hit that, we'd welcome him back to the program.

"Well, as far as communicating with his professors, he's doing well in every one of his classes and he'll hit the parameters. I think he's got one test he has to finish. It's certainly good for us to have him back in the program. But it's also … we gave a guy an opportunity to prove himself. Now he's going to graduate from college. I think it turns out to be a very positive thing. When we made the decision to do it, it was one of those things we didn't want to do, because from a team standpoint, he's a really, really good player. But bottom line, when I look at the staff, we've got to do what's right. And what's right was to make the choice we did. It's certainly going to end up to be right for him, because academically now he'll do very well. I think it was a win-win for everybody."

● Wisconsin running back Monte Ball is a long shot to win the Heisman Trophy Saturday night, but he'll have at least one supporter in Columbia. Backup redshirt freshman guard Nick Demien played with Ball at Timberland High School in Wentzville and keeps in touch with his former teammate regularly.

"We all knew he was a good player," Demien said. "We all knew he worked hard. It was just how far and how high that would take him. It doesn't necessarily surprise me. But at the same time, it's kind of amazing to see someone from your hometown make it all the way up to being up for the Heisman."
Ball, a year older than Demien, committed to Wisconsin the summer before his senior year, a couple months after attending Missouri's Black and Gold spring scrimmage.

"You know, sometimes I really wish I could have continued playing with him," Demien said. "But he made a really good choice for himself. Obviously, it's worked out well for him."

● 48, 49, 87, 97, 98, 114. Those are the 2011 national rankings for the passing offenses at Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, Missouri's new division mates in the SEC Eastern Division. Combine those plodding offenses with a secondary that returns three of four starters — four of five if you include nickelback Randy Ponder — and something tells me the Tigers might have a nice looking defensive backfield in 2012, especially if Bolden stays on the team. At cornerback, the Tigers return Edwards and All-Big 12 first-teamer E.J. Gaines. At safety, Bolden joins a crew that returns Kenronte Walker, Braylon Webb and Matt White. Walker was productive down the stretch after joining the starting lineup against Texas, and the staff has high hopes for Webb, who should return for the bowl game after tearing his meniscus late in the season. Walker's athleticism and burst to the ball has already stood out in the first couple practices.

● Speaking of defense, the Tigers have gotten a headstart on preparing for North Carolina with a few extra practice periods. From what he's seen so far of the Tar Heels' offense, strong safety Kenji Jackson said it's a style that suits the Tigers' strengths.

"Their offense is kind of equivalent to Texas," Jackson said. "They run a lot of double tight-end sets and use two running backs. They use the tight end to get you off balanced and they do a lot of play-action. It's nothing we haven't seen before. Having played Texas and Texas A&M, those pro-style type offenses, that's going to help us a lot. ... We like playing against the run, and when it's not so spread out, we do well against those type of offenses."

Yes, they do. The Tigers kept Texas out of the end zone and limited the Horns to just 247 yards and 13 first downs in a 17-5 win last month.

That's all for today. Check out Sunday's print edition for more on how Pinkel's staff has tweaked its bowl preparation this year and how one freshman hopes to capitalize on the extra reps.

Berkstresser shows behind-the-scenes progress (CDT)

Reserve QB has shot to shine in bowl practices
by Dave Matter (CDT)
December 11, 2011
Weary and out of breath, Corbin Berkstresser got down on his hands and knees and pushed a plank of wood from one sideline to the other inside the Devine Pavilion yesterday — his sentence for oversleeping and missing the start of a study hall session.

“I was three minutes late,” Missouri’s freshman quarterback said.

That punctuality lapse aside, Berkstresser has otherwise been right on schedule and shown the kind of progress offensive coordinator David Yost expected. And now’s the time to capitalize. With two Columbia practices down and four left before the Tigers (7-5) leave for the Independence Bowl, Berkstresser took command of the offense yesterday, hoping to make the most of the extra work.

For the first time since Berkstresser began playing youth football, he was on the sidelines this season, taking a redshirt while James Franklin steered the offense. Berkstresser, officially listed as the No. 3 quarterback, split the second-team practice snaps with backup Jimmy Costello throughout the season.

“It was a little adjustment for me, but my game day was practice,” Berkstresser said. “That’s when I got my reps.”

And he used them well, Yost said.

“You can see, he’s a different guy now than he was in two-a-days,” Yost said. “When you call the plays, there’s no thought process. He knows what everyone’s doing on each play and he’s telling guys what to do. ‘Hey, you’re doing this, you’re doing that.’ Or he’ll come back to me and say, ‘He ran the wrong route, Coach.’ You can just see the maturation.”

Coming off back-to-back bowl losses to Navy (2009 Texas Bowl) and Iowa (2010 Insight Bowl), Gary Pinkel’s staff has shifted its philosophy on December practices and added more periods simulating North Carolina’s offense and defense in these early workouts.

Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel made the suggestion after Navy and Iowa shredded the Tigers for 940 yards of offense the last two years. The offense can stand to benefit, too, with more time to prepare for North Carolina’s coverages against its spread formations.

“We wanted to just get a little bit more of a jump,” on the Tar Heels, Pinkel said.

That still leaves time for what the Tigers call A-B periods, when freshmen and walk-ons run Missouri’s offense and defense in scrimmage situations, rather than handle their scout-team assignments from the regular season. It was during A-B drills two years ago when MU realized Michael Egnew could become a weapon in the passing game. Egnew was a backup outside receiver that season, but during bowl practices he moved to tight end. The next fall, he caught 90 passes, his first of back-to-back first-team All-Big 12 seasons.

“All of a sudden,” Yost said, “the light went on and we were sitting there at the end of A-B practices saying, ‘Where did this guy come from?’ It catapulted right into spring ball and right into an All-American season.”

With Franklin entrenched at quarterback, it might be a stretch for Berkstresser to make the same leap next season. For now, he’s aiming for the No. 2 job. The competition figures to include Ashton Glaser, the current No. 4 option, and incoming freshman Maty Mauk.

“I want it really bad,” Berkstresser said of the backup job. “That No. 2 spot is really important to me. Whoever’s here to compete for that, we’ll compete.”

PACKED HOUSE: Missouri hosted 20 recruits on official visits this weekend, including 11 who had already pledged a verbal commitment to join MU’s 2012 signing class. Ka’Ra Stewart made it an even dozen. The defensive back from O’Fallon, Ill., High School committed during his visit, his high school team’s Twitter account (@OFallonFootball) posted last night. Stewart has also collected offers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern and Purdue.

Among the weekend visitors was Lee’s Summit West offensive lineman Evan Boehm, who backed off an earlier pledge to Missouri and visited Auburn for last month’s Iron Bowl against Alabama.

The Tigers hosted three recruits who have been committed to programs currently undergoing head-coaching changes: Arlington, Texas, running back Russell Hansbrough (Arizona State); Whiteland, Ind., offensive lineman Jake Meador (Mississippi); and DeSoto, Texas, defensive lineman Michael Richardson (Texas A&M). Joining the throng at yesterday’s practice was South Bend, Ind., athlete David Perkins, who backed off a commitment to Notre Dame and also plans to visit Michigan State, Oregon, Ohio State and Tennessee.

ELVIS ENCORE?: Left tackle Elvis Fisher expects to hear from the NCAA in the coming weeks regarding his petition for a medical hardship waiver. Fisher missed the season after tearing his patellar tendon during preseason camp, and having already taken a redshirt season in 2007, he’ll need the NCAA to grant him a sixth year of eligibility to play next season.

Should the NCAA allow him to return, Fisher hasn’t decided if he’ll indeed play another season.

“We certainly want him to play,” Pinkel said. “In his heart, he’s got to feel that it’s the right thing for him. … We haven’t hardcore recruited him yet. That’s coming.”

source: www.columbiatribune.com/news/2011/dec/11/berkstresser-shows-behind-the-scenes-progress/

10 December 2011

A Look Back

First semester brings roller coaster of emotions
by Mizzou Matt
As the year of 2011 comes to a close, it brings with it the end of the first semester of the academic/athletic year. As the students take their finals and head home for the holiday season, many of them will never suit up in the Mizzou Black & Gold ever again. In a semester filled triumph and defeat, with pride and with sentiments of "What just happened?", the True Sons/Daughters showed what it took to have the Heart of a Tiger. So in the spirit of finals, pick your pencils up. It's time to take a look back at the semester's athletic events.

The Mizzou soccer team came off of a 7-10-2 2010 season and opened play with an exhibition game against Illinois. The game was delayed for upwards of thirty minutes due to weather, but when it finally began, the outcome was very similar to the score before the game. 1-1 tie. The Tigers would go on to be the winners of 12 contests, including a victory over then No. 7 Ohio State and notching a win in a nationally televised game against Oklahoma on ESPNU, but their season would come to a close in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament, falling to Texas A&M 3-0.
Dominique Richardson led the team in goals with 6, while Danielle Nottingham was right on her heels with 5. Alyssa Diggs, Kelsey Blincow and Taylor Grant all had 4 goals each, and Abi Raymer and Kendra Collins added 3 each of their own. Kaysie Clark, Haley Krentz and Brooke Williams netted 2 a piece, and Mallory Stipetich rounded out the scoring with one goal on the season. Missouri outscored their opponents 37-22 while out shooting them 346-300.

Final 2011 record: 12-8-1, 3-5-0.

Fresh off a 2010 NCAA tournament appearance, the Tigers used their skills in the front court to force 691 errors by the opposing teams. The Tigers trailed in the kills department, 1629-1715, and that's reflected in their 21-13 overall record. In Big 12 play, they carried a sub-.500 record of 7-9. Lisa Henning set a school record with kills with 523.

Through the fall exhibition, the Tiger softball squad went a perfect 8-0, notching five shutouts. On the men's side, the Tiger baseball team split their exhibition with Iowa 2-1, while raising more than $12,000 for the Joplin Little League.

Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium, the home of the Mizzou baseball team, has been named 2011 College and University Baseball Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), as announced by the STMA on Tuesday (Nov. 22). The field is maintained and cared for by Mizzou Turf Specialist Josh McPherson and his staff.

Ah yes, last but not least. Coming off of a 10-3 2010 season, the Tigers were in a rebuilding phase after losing quarterback Blaine Gabbert and star defensive end Aldon Smith. Their season was a roller coaster full up ups and downs, starting with the loss of star offensive lineman Elvis Fisher. For most of the season, winning seemed hard to come by, up until the final three games, that is. The Tigers would go the majority of the season without having won back-to-back games, though having plenty of opportunities to do so.

They started their season with a 17-6 win over quarterback Zack Dysart and the Miami (OH) Redhawks. De'Vion Moore, Kendial Lawrence, Jacquies Smith, and Will Ebner all went down to injury in the opener, and would miss the next few games. Henry Josey stepped up to fill the vacated running back role. They traveled out to Tempe, AZ to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. This marked the second time in three games, dating back to the 2010 Insight.com Bowl against Iowa that the Tigers were in Sun Devil Stadium. After battling back to tie the game in the fourth, the Tigers would fall in overtime, 37-30. Back home they came for Western Illinois, a FCS opponent who put up an FCS fight. Mizzou notched their most lopsided victory in school history, 69-0. Onward to Norman, OK and the Sooners on Kyle Field. The Tigers jumped off to a quick 14-0 lead, becoming the first team to lead against OU to that point. Powered by strong 2nd & 3rd quarters, though, the Sooners jumped out to a seemingly insurmountable lead and looked as though they were going to cover the spread set by Vegas. The Tigers fought back in the fourth again and closed the gap to 10, losing 38-28.

For the fifth game of the year, the Tigers went out to the foothills of Kansas to take on Kansas State at Bill Snyder Family Memorial Stadium. The Wildcats hadn't allowed any points in the fourth quarter prior to the matchup, and the Tigers would be the first ones to do so. Their fourth quarter was sound, but they still found themselves on the short end, 24-17. Homecoming. The Centennial. 100 years ago, the Tigers played their first Homecoming against Kansas. This year, it was against Iowa State, a team that Mizzou defeated 14-0 last year. The Tigers used a stellar first-half performance to roll past the Cyclones 52-17 to move to 3-3 on the year, and stay perfect on their home turf, dating back to 2009. The next week, however, would prove to be a streak-breaker as Oklahoma State came to town. Powered by Joseph Randle's rushing and Brandon Weeden's passing, the Cowboys slid past Mizzou 45-24, and the inability to win two in a row continued. What happened next, nobody could've predicted.

Missouri went on the road to take on 16th-ranked Texas A&M. James Franklin looked like a man on a mission on his first TD run of the game, and Henry Josey continued his trend of carrying the team as the Tigers used overtime to beat the Aggies 38-31. Mizzou is the winningest program in overtime games with 10 OT wins. They beat TAMU, but could they beat the Heisman hopeful Robert Griffin III and the Baylor Bears? Almost. Their comeback came too late, and the Tigers fell to Baylor 42-39. Mizzou would return to Columbia for their final two home games that would complete the "Texas 4-Step". First up, Texas. A team that Gary Pinkel has not beat in his previous 10 years as Mizzou head coach. The Tigers took a lead and never let it go, despite an unusual third quarter where Mizzou outscored the Longhorns 3-2. The final home game was against Texas Tech, and coming off a week of turmoil surrounding Pinkel and his DUI and losing Josey to a knee injury, questions were raised if Missouri could beat Tech. Rather than relying on paper to determine the game, the Tigers did their talking on the field, using yet another second half comeback capped off by a Michael Sam interception with :32 seconds to play to clinch the 31-27 win. The team finally got the monkey off their back and won two games straight. Could they get their third in a row?

At the start of the game, it wasn't looking too good. Kansas looked like they came to play. Their strong first half had them leading in the locker room 10-3. During halftime, as reported by Fox Sports Midwest, Josey pulled Franklin aside to tell him "Don't worry about that. Play the second half like it's a brand new game." Franklin heeded his advice. While the Jayhawks were struggling on offense, the Tigers' offense seemed to finally find it's way out of neutral. Notching 14 points off turnovers in the 3rd and adding another touchdown early in the 4th, the Tigers knocked off Kansas for what might have been the final meeting between the two schools, 24-10.

Season Statistical Leaders:
J. Franklin223353273320
J. Costello23701
H. Josey14511688.19
J. Franklin1998394.213
T. Moe5464912.04
M. Egnew4748410.33

Andrew Wilson led the team in tackles with 89. Jacquies Smith led in sacks with 5.0. Kenji Jackson led interceptions with three, while E.J. Gaines intercepted two, both in the endzone. Smith also forced a team-high four fumbles, with Luke Lambert leading with three fumble recoveries. Gaines also led in pass breakups with 16.

The Tigers finish their season 7-5, 5-4 and go bowling for the 8th time under Pinkel, and for the seventh straight season. Missouri will take on North Carolina (7-5, 3-5) in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA on Dec. 26, 2011. Kickoff is set for 4p/CST.

The next semester brings a new round of Tiger athletics as the softball and baseball teams kick off their seasons in February. Tiger basketball is in full stride, and the Tigers are currently sitting at 8-0 on the year, with a game against Navy on Saturday, Dec. 10th at 4p/CST.

08 December 2011

Hoops Update: 12/5-12/8

Men over 'Nova, Women comeback against EIU
by Mizzou Matt
Both of the University of Missouri basketball teams were in action this week- the men took on Villanova in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, and the women battled Eastern Illinois at Mizzou Arena.

The Tigers entered the season with a preseason rank of 25th. Since then, they've clawed their way up to 10th with big wins over Notre Dame and Cal in the Progressive CBE Classic. Following a 90-56 destruction of the Northwestern State Demons, the Tigers traveled to Manhattan to play in the Jimmy V Classic. Senior guard Marcus Denmon scored 28 to lead the Tigers past the Wildcats 81-71. That performance came on the heels of his career-high 31 against Northwestern State on Dec. 2nd. It's no surprise that Denmon leads the scoring this year, averaging 21.3 per game, while Kim English is second, averaging 16.6.

So far this year, the Tigers are outscoring opponents 685-480. The Tigers are back in action at Mizzou Arena on Dec. 10th against Navy. Tipoff is set for 4:00pm.

Coming off of a 70-74 loss to Northwestern, the Tigers trailed by as much as 15 in the second half. They overcame a double-digit deficit to beat EIU 56-54. The Tigers' Christine Flores becomes the first player in the Big 12 to record a triple-double this season. Flores finished the game with 25 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks, as well as finishing with five steals. She set a career high in both blocks and steals, and set a Mizzou record with blocks. The previous record (7) was held by Flores, Amanda Lassiter and Stretch James. The Tiger women move to 6-1 on the year and take on North Dakota at 12:30pm on Dec. 10th at Mizzou Arena.

05 December 2011

Origin of a Tradition

North Carolina shares history with Missouri
by Mizzou Matt via mutigers.com
The North Carolina Tar Heels and the Missouri Tigers have met on the football field before. Twice, actually. The first time in 1973 (27-14 MU win) and most recently in 1976 (24-3 MU win). You may have already known that, but what you probably didn't know is that one of Mizzou's most revered traditions, the "M-I-Z---Z-O-U!" chant originated at the 1976 meeting.

Following a historic 22-21 upset of then no. 2 Ohio State, the members of the band and cheerleading squad were riding on their bus back to Columbia. They wanted to start a cheer similar to the Buckeyes' "O-H-I-O" cheer. One student recommended that one side of the stadium says "M" and the other responds with "U". Another had the idea of one side saying "Black" and the other replies with "Gold". One student of Mini Mizzou, Cedric Lemmie, tossed the idea out of "How about 'M-I-Z--Z-O-U'?"

During the game against UNC, the band started yelling "M-I-Z--!". The cheerleaders, armed with megaphones and the stadium's PA system, responded with "Z-O-U!" The chant was so new, the fans didn't know if they were supposed to partake. It took several attempts, but by the end of the season, one of the most notable college traditions had stuck and became a common place among True Mizzou Sons/Daughters. Go anywhere in Columbia, yell out "M-I-Z-!" and the response you get is more than likely going to be "Z-O-U!"

So as the Tigers take the field in Shreveport to face the Tar Heels for the first time since that historic game, one notable change will be noticed by the older UNC fans- the "M-I-Z--Z-O-U!" chant is a heck of a lot louder today than it was in 1976.

04 December 2011

Tigers Go Bowling

School record 7th straight bowl appearance
by Mizzou Matt
COLUMBIA, MO- The University of Missouri football team keeps a school record going with a seventh straight bowl game. It's the eighth time in Gary Pinkel's tenure that the Tigers have made the post season, and the 29th appearance in school history. Their overall bowl record is 12-16 in the previous 28 appearances. The Tigers are currently on a two game losing streak in bowl games, 2009 against Navy and 2010 against Iowa, and are 3-4 in postseason play under Pinkel.

The Tigers (7-5, 5-4) were invited, accepted and are headed to Shreveport, LA for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl. The game, normally slated for Atlantic Coast Conference vs Mountain West Conference, was on the Tigers' radar if a Big 12-affiliated bowl wasn't offered. Their most likely opponent will be the North Carolina Tar Heels (7-5, 3-5) of the ACC Coastal division. The game is set for Monday, December 26th at 4:00pm/CT. Tickets are available at the MU Ticket Office at Mizzou Arena, over the phone at 1-800-CAT-PAWS or through mutigers.com website. Other information about the bowl can be found at independencebowl.org.

02 December 2011

Alden Forced to Evaluate Priorities (via Columbia Daily Tribune)

Mike Alden forced to evaluate priorities

Mike Alden shook his head as he rehashed the darkest period of his career.
Mike Alden:
Missouri athletic director

Rattling off the lowlights of the basketball scandal that rocked Missouri in the mid-2000s and nearly got him fired as athletic director, it was as if the saga was still a bad dream.

“A basketball season gone awry … a major infractions case … the dismissal or nondismissal or direct dismissal of a basketball coach … jailhouse tapes … president’s wives calling inmates in jail and recording things,” Alden told a group of business students yesterday afternoon at Cornell Hall. “It was just amazing. You couldn’t have written a novel. You could never have thought of the things going on.”

But the shame was real, and so were the lessons.

Alden’s experiences with Ricky Clemons and former Tigers Coach Quin Snyder reshaped his management style in times of turmoil. He said he learned no individual was bigger than the university.

In 2003, the series of chances Missouri gave the troubled Clemons to right himself dragged the university into an embarrassing morass.

Clemons sat out only one game in January after he was charged with felonious assault for hitting and choking his former girlfriend then was suspended but not taken off scholarship after he pleaded guilty to reduced charges in April.

Not until Clemons violated curfew at a halfway house and crashed an ATV outside the home of former Missouri President Elson Floyd in July was he dismissed. Alden delivered the news to Clemons in the Boone County Jail.

“I was looking out what was best I thought for the student at that time,” said Alden, who did not mention Clemons by name or specify the moments he regretted. “When I made those decisions, I greatly impacted negatively our institution and our department. I learned a big lesson.”

Since then, that moral has helped guide recent department decisions like the prompt banishment last season of star running back Derrick Washington after he was accused and later convicted of sexual assault and the one-game suspension of football Coach Gary Pinkel after his drunken-driving arrest.

“Whatever decisions you’re making, you want to make sure the No. 1 most important thing is the institution,” Alden said. “No. 2, that’s going to be your program, your department. And No. 3, in this order, would be the student or staff member and how they would be impacted.”

Alden’s evolving leadership approach was one of many topics he addressed in an hour-long presentation. He also answered student questions on Missouri’s move to the Southeastern Conference, covering little new ground but expressing through light jabs his feelings on the inequality and instability of the Big 12.

Alden has declined to discuss the decision to move to the SEC with media outlets since the press conference/pep rally announcing the switch Nov. 6. He said he was unavailable for questions from a reporter after yesterday’s presentation.

He shared his doubts on the long-term viability of the conference with the students. In October, after the Pac-12 rejected Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech, Missouri was the only league school that did not agree to a six-year grant of its TV rights.

“For you people that have not been married, I’m going to give you advice from a 53-year-old guy,” Alden said with a smile. “I’m going to tell you something, man. … If you’re going to go through a Christian ceremony, they’re going to ask you, ‘until death do us part.’ And if you come up with that puppy and say, ‘You know what, we’re going to kind of hang out for six years, then we’re going to figure it out after that,’ prenups aren’t usually a good idea to start the wedding night. Just remember that.”

He did not acknowledge the perception that Missouri was among the schools that stirred the instability with its lobbying to the Big Ten in 2010.

“Over the course of a year and a half, even though you had a lot of people saying, ‘We’re all in, we’re all together,’ seven of our institutions in our league — seven! — looked at different homes publicly,” Alden said. “Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M. Seven.”

Reach David Briggs at dbriggs@columbiatribune.com.

28 November 2011

Kansas Is To Blame

A subjective look at why Kansas ended the rivalry
by Mizzou Matt
The Border War. First played on the gridiron on Halloween of 1891, but it stretches farther back into history than that. It goes back to the 1850s and throughout the Civil War when Kansas senator Colonel Nathan Lane burned and sacked multiple Missouri towns. Quantrill retaliated, burning and sacking Lawrence. That's where the hatred started, and on November 26th, 2011, the bloodshed came to an abrupt end. Historians point out, however, that the two sides put their weapons down following the Civil War to work together on the Transcontinental Railroad. Don't let that fool you, the hate was still there. Not even 30 years after the end of the war, the two sides waged war on each other again.

The rivalry was of little interest until 1911, when Mizzou chancellor Chester Brewer called for the Tiger alumni to "come home" for the final game against Kansas. Interest dwindled after that until 1960, when Kansas beat Mizzou 23-7, ending the Tigers' hopes for a national title. Jayhawk player Bert Coan was later deemed ineligible by the Big 8 in a 5-3 vote, and the conference forfeited the win to Missouri. The controversy spilled over to the hardwood in the 1961 meeting that became known as the "Basketbrawl." Up until about 20 years ago, the rivalry's importance dwindled again until the "Border War" name was conceived. It took fans back to the time when the hatred was still fresh. After the 9/11 attacks, the name was changed to the Border Showdown, and in 2002-03, the M&I Bank Border Showdown Series was adopted. All of the work that went in to building one of the fiercest rivalries in all of college sports went away in one foul tweet.

Ah, Twitter, such a powerful tool.

The University of Kansas, long time hater of Mizzou athletics, expressed a disdain for the Tigers' exit to the Southeastern Conference. Missouri athletic director Mike Alden extended an interest in keeping the rivalry alive with KU, but Jayhawks basketball coach Bill Self stated that if Missouri were to leave, Kansas would have no part in any sport against them. The Kansas Athletics Facebook and Twitter accounts posted: "Missouri forfeits century-old rivalry. We win."

So let's take a look at who really are the winners here. In football, Missouri controls the series at 57-54-9* (though hotly contested), but basketball is another tale, with Kansas leading 171-94 entering the 2011 season. The Tigers dominate the baseball portion of the series, 212-123-2* (again, contested). In the overall Border Showdown Series, with a trophy given to the school with the better overall athletic performance throughout the year, Missouri has a commanding 7-2 lead, including winning the Border Showdown trophy every year since 2006-07.

But why end one of the more storied rivalries in all of college sports? Easy. The fans. The Kansas fans have grown wary of being a one-trick pony. How many times have Mizzou fans heard "Wait until basketball!"? Too many to count. They have the Tigers in basketball, no doubt about it, but all other sports, it's all about Mizzou. The past couple years under Turner Gill were hard on the Jayhawk football team, going just 5-19. They couldn't even give tickets away to home football matches. Their fans have turned a cold shoulder to the rivalry, despite it's climax in 2007 when Missouri was ranked 4th and Kansas 2nd. The game ended with Missouri on top of Kansas 36-28 and on top of the AP Poll for the first time since 1960. Over 80,000 fans packed Arrowhead Stadium to watch Todd Reesing pull a chunk of turf out of his facemask.

Is it Mizzou's fault for ending the rivalry? Kansas will of course say yes, but let's look at the timeline of events, starting in 2009: Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe grants Texas their own TV network, in association with ESPN. New TV rights with Fox/ESPN are struck, but any money from the Longhorn Network goes directly to Texas. This upset the rest of the conference. In 2010, Missouri was rumored to be talking with the Big Ten regarding conference affiliation. Nebraska joined in the talks and was eventually picked to be the league's 12th team starting in 2011. Kansas was no where to be found. In 2011, Missouri rose back to the top of the rumor mill with reported talks with the SEC. Texas A&M was the first to go, with Missouri following suit on November 6th. Again, Kansas wasn't a blip on the radar screen...for good reason.

While they may have more basketball conference championships and national titles than Missouri, they also carry a darker, more sinister stat: the Jayhawks have more NCAA tournament losses to mid-major schools like Northern Iowa and Virginia Commonwealth than they do national championship banners. They've become choke artists during March Madness, entering as a 1- or 2-seed, but failing to make it past the Sweet Sixteen. The football team hasn't been one of relevance since the 2007 season when they received a bid to the FedEx Orange Bowl.
Their soccer team collapsed in 2011 against Missouri, leading 2-0 and giving up three goals in the final six minutes to lose 3-2. The baseball team has had their moments, but on April 16, 2011, they gave up a 2-0 lead to a Blake Brown single and lost 3-2. The overall theme here is simple: Missouri has dominated in just about every sport other than basketball.

It's pretty obvious that Kansas was feeling left out of the realignment talks. They had the entitlement mentality that they deserve to be in a stronger conference based on their basketball program alone. When Missouri was chosen without even so much as a look in their direction, the Jayhawks picked up their toys and left the playground pouting. They had enough of being the punching bag. Missouri had metaphorically peed in their Corn Flakes for the last time.

When the announcement was made that Missouri was leaving and that Alden wanted to continue the rivalry as non-conference opponents, eyebrows were raised. It could have been, should have been the saving moment of the Showdown, but it wasn't. Kansas still tweeted the above tweet, and Missouri fans ran with it. Signs at the 2011 Border Showdown in Kansas City read "Keep rivalry alive!" and "Kansas forfeits century old rivalry, Missouri wins. #beakertrash". The hatred is still there. The hatred will always be there. Expect that when College Basketball GameDay comes to Mizzou Arena for the MU-KU Border Showdown on February 4th, the signs by both sides probably won't pull any punches. Kansas is the team Missourians love to hate, it's just that the hatred will have to be placed on the back burner for the foreseeable future.

Pinkel Speaks

SEC, recruiting, new uniforms, new field
by Mizzou Matt
COLUMBIA, MO- Gary Pinkel finally spoke out today about the University of Missouri's move to the SEC, which was announced on November 6th. The main topic was recruiting. "Certainly, recruiting wise, we've already done that," Pinkel said, "we've made a couple of adjustments. We're going to put one of our coaches in Atlanta and two in Florida."

Pinkel's team, which last year won it's 40th game over the past four years, went just 7-5 overall. He said that this year's team was the most injury-laden team he's ever coached in his career. Despite all the injuries, the team managed to become bowl eligible for the seventh straight year, a school record.

Coach Pinkel also revealed that next year, Mizzou will have all new Nike uniforms and a brand new artificial turf to play on, likely to be paid for by the bolstered SEC payout. The current FieldTurf was installed prior to the 2003 season, and has a shelf life of about 10 years. The field played a large role in games this year, claiming Elvis Fisher, Will Ebner, Henry Josey, De'Vion Moore, Kendial Lawrence, as well as opposing forces Fozzy Whittaker and four Texas Tech players to leg injuries.

27 November 2011

"KU Forfeits Century Old Rivalry..Mizzou wins"

Tigers overcome shaky first half
by Mizzou Matt
KANSAS CITY, MO- For the 120th time in the series, and possibly for the last time, the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas squared off on the football field. The rivalry has seen ups and downs for both sides, and the overall record of the series is hotly contested. Mizzou fans will tell you that the Tigers lead 56-54-9, while Jayhawks claim it's tied at 55-55-9. No matter the overall record, no matter the season record for either team, this is a game to win, to make that indelible mark on history.

"If it's the last one, I'm honored to play in it." -Missouri defensive back Trey Hobson on the possibility of this being the final time the two teams will meet.

The Jayhawks entered the game riding at 2-9, 0-8, including a nine game losing streak. Yes, 9 games. After winning their first two games to start the season, they haven't won a single game. They've had chances and opportunities, but Turner Gill's squad could quite get over the cusp to secure the win. This year's Border War was their last chance to get a win in conference play. It was probably Gill's last chance to save his job as Kansas head coach.

The Tigers, on the other hand, entered at 6-5, 4-4 and boasting back-to-back wins over Texas and Texas Tech, their first back-to-back wins of 2011. They hoped to overcome the tribulations of the past couple weeks that involved losing Henry Josey to a knee injury, coach Gary Pinkel being arrested for DUI, and using virtually all of the 60:00 allotted minutes to beat Tech. The Border War's trophy, the Marching Band Drum and the Border Showdown Trophy, have resided in Columbia's display case since 2009. They didn't want to give those up to "that school from the west".

But give it up they almost did. Sophomore quarterback James Franklin threw three interceptions in the first half alone, one of which was returned for a touchdown. The Jayhawks scored first on a field goal and Trey Barrow chipped in one of his own to make it a 10-3 Kansas lead going into the half.

According to the Fox Sports broadcast, Franklin's roommate, Josey, pulled him aside in the locker room to tell him "Don't worry about it. The first half is done. Forget it. Play the second half like it's a brand new game." Franklin did exactly that, with the help of miscues by the Jayhawks.

The opening kickoff of the second half was taken by Kansas at their own 28, and after three plays, netting -3 yards the punter fumbled the snap on the punt. Kansas' Mike Cummings recovered the fumble at the Jayhawks 14, which led to a turnover on downs. Missouri got the ball with their best field position of the game up to that point, and three plays later, running back Kendial Lawrence found paydirt to tie the game at 10.

The self-destruction of Kansas had begun.

The ensuing drive showed some promise for the Jayhawks, but the drive stalled out and they were forced to punt. T.J. Moe called for the fair catch at his own 7, and the Tigers sustained a lengthy drive to take the lead. Covering 93 yards in 9 plays and just three minutes and ten seconds (3:10), Franklin capped off the drive with a 25-yard touchdown to Wes Kemp. The play was originally ruled incomplete, but was later overturned after official review.

Tigers lead 17-10. The kickoff following the TD was fumbled, but was recovered by Steve Mestan at the Jayhawks' 23. Kansas punted the ball away to Moe, and Missouri took over at their own 18. The Tigers would run out the third quarter clinging to a 17-10 lead, desperate for another score.

The first play of the fourth quarter was the last time either team would find points as Franklin hooked up with wide receiver Marcus Lucas for a 53-yard touchdown. Trey Barrow added the extra point to make it 24-10. The kickoff by Barrow was taken in by D.J. Bershears, but Donovan Bonner forced a fumble and Missouri's Jared Culver recovered. Three plays later, Barrow sent a 27-yard field goal attempt wide right. Kansas took the ball and marched down the field, playing into Missouri's hand by running the clock. In a drive that took 18 plays to go 43 yards and ran 8:52 off the time, the Jayhawks made it as far as the Missouri 20. An illegal substitution pushed them back to the 25 before Jordan Webb found Bershears at the Mizzou 17. A three yard loss followed by a holding penalty and a sack by Kenji Jackson on Webb pushed them back to the 37. Facing 4th & 27, Webb heaved a long ball toward the endzone. Jackson, who had made the sack just the play prior, hauled in the interception at the 1 yard line. The Tigers made it out of the shadow of their own goalposts to their own 32 before running the clock out with a Franklin kneel.

Missouri won the game with a 24-10 victory in Kansas City, putting Turner Gill on the hotseat in Lawrence. Gill is 5-19 in two years at Kansas, including a 2011 year that saw ten straight losses and a winless conference record. The Jayhawks were outscored 525-268 in 2011.

In the waning minutes of the game, as the Kansas fans were finding the exits, the Black & Gold clad fans of Missouri started chanting "SEC! SEC! SEC!" in reference to the Jayhawks' distaste for the Tigers wanting to leave the Big 12. For a school record seventh straight season, Missouri will be going to a bowl game, however Pinkel will not be receiving his bowl bonus as per the disciplinary action imposed by the University for his DUI prior to the Tech game. The Tigers finish their regular season at 7-5, 5-4, including a three-game win streak over the final three games. Missouri ends the regular season ranked 5th in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Baylor. The Big 12 has 8 teams with a bowl-eligible six wins.
With the win, Pinkel picks up his 84th win at Mizzou, putting him just eight wins behind Dan Devine (92) for second on the Tigers' All-Time wins list. He is moves to 16 behind Don Faurot (100). For 2011, Missouri outscored their opponents 386-282.

James Franklin led the game with 187 yards passing, 2 TDs and 3 INTs. Lawrence led the rushing attack with 63 and a TD while Franklin added 45 of his own. Franklin finishes the season with 2,740 yards passing, 839 yards rushing, and 33 total touchdowns (20 pass, 13 rush). Lawrence finished the year with 395 yards after being sidelined to injury early on. The Tigers' leading rusher was Josey, who finished with 1,168 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns.

T.J. Moe, who carried the receiving corps last year with 91 catches for 1,045 yards, only brought in 54 for 649 yards and 4 TDs as Franklin spread the ball to his receivers. Moe also finished with 27 yards rushing and 31 yards passing.

Full stats can be found at: http://www.mutigers.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2011-2012/teamcume.html

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