Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fire Mike Alden?

I knew it would happen.  After the Lyin' Mike Anderson packed his bags and scurried off to Arkansas and MU swang and missed on Matt Painter, the Mike Alden haters came out in full force.  If you read message boards, and I read a lot of them, you'll hear people bitching about how embarrassed they are that Alden is the head of the athletic department at the school they claim to love.  Now if you've read this blog often, or much at all for that matter, then you know I'm an Alden fan.  I've met him several times and have always been treated very well, and no, I'm not a huge $$$ booster by any means.  I just happen to believe that he's done a very good job at a place where it isn't easy to have success considering the financial restraints the university operates under.
Alden took over as athletic director on July 16th, 1998 after Joe Castiglione left for greener pastures in Norman, Oklahoma citing a lack of support from an administration that had deemed that athletics simply weren't important enough compared with the academics the university wanted to be known for.  It had been a problem since the 70's when then chancellor Barbara (Babs) Uehling basically ran Dan Devine out of CoMO, giving him zero support.  That started a 30 year slide of Missouri football.  When he arrived there was sort of a mini revival under then head coach Larry Smith, but that was dying just as he arrived, and some of the worst losses in memory happened during his last 2 years.  All Alden did was go out and hire an unknown guy from Toledo named Gary Pinkel to take over and he's going to be the winningest coach in Missouri history by the time he retires.      
Several things have happened, at least in my opinion that have turned a portion of the fan base against Alden.  The first was the firing of Norm Stewart after he spent 32 years coaching the Tigers.  Now I loved Norm.  He was about all we had during those dark days of the football program, but he'd lost his zest for coaching and it was really time for him to go.  It also brought a 25 million dollar donation from Bill Laurie toward the construction of Mizzou Arena, one of the finest basketball venue's in the country.  Sadly, it also brough Quin Snyder from Duke, who spent 7 years dragging down the program until, he was fired in a clumsy manner, that, again in my opinion was the lowlight of Alden's career.  A segment of the fans also blame him for the Big Ten expansion last summer, but anyone that really follows how these things work should know that was something being decided by people way over Alden's pay grade.
Right now, the basketball program is absolutely in a perilous position.  No coach and no recruits courtesy of Mike Anderson.  But the majority of sports are doing quite well, and Alden has made some good if not great hires in addition to Coach Pinkel.  I know it isn't a popular notion right now, but I have faith in Alden to make a good hire.  The fact of the matter is, that with the fan support, Missouri just isn't perceived to be as good a job as many of us feel that it is.  I hope things are going well, and want to thank you guys for reading.  I've been averaging over 2,500 hits a month on this blog and am starting to do better at my website,  In addition to the stores, I've added a news and sports page titled current events.  It's full of articles and columns about Mizzou athletics by real writers like Mike DeArmond and his son Gabe who runs an excellent Missouri site, PowerMizzou, as well as guys like Bryan Burwell and Bernie Miklasz from St Louis today.  Please stop by and let me know what you think.  It's still a work in progress, but I'm actually pretty happy with how it's turning out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Opening day and the search continues

Baseball season in Kansas City begins Thursday at 3:10 as the Royals take on the Los Angeles Angels at Kauffman Stadium.  Coming off a 95 loss season in '10, Ned Yost begins the season as manager and mercifully ends the Trey Hillman era.  But after you've sat through Bob Boone and Tony Pena, you're used to seeing scratch your head decisions.  Yost has experienced some limited success while managing the Milwaukee Brewers, going 512 wins against 574 losses from 2003 to 2008.  However, he took over a terrible team and brought them to respectability going with young players.  Ironically he was fired late in the season in 2008 with his team playing good ball.  I don't think Yost, at 55 is going to suddenly make you a world series contender, but he seems to do well with young players, and that's where the Royals are going to be, starting this season.  4 rookies in the bullpen, including former Missouri Tiger, Aaron Crow.  Luke Hochevar draws the opening day start.  I had pretty high hopes when he was drafted, but really haven't seen any consistancy from him yet.  I'd like to get excited but really can't.  Starting pitching is weak, some journeymen guys were acquired.  When the season starts to slip away, which could happen in May, I expect to see some young guys start to come up. 
Some guys had some nice stats during spring training.  Those really don't mean much but this is a big year for some guys that fans and the team had high hopes for when they were signed.  One of those is Alex Gordon, drafted in 2007 from hick nation.  He was a top 5 pick that has been pretty disappointing so far.  But I really like this kid and hope that he breaks open this year.  He's playing left field now, which has to be easier than playing 3rd base.  I still think this kid has the talent to hit .280 with 15 homers and 70-80 ribbies.  Billy Butler turns 25 on April 18th.  I expect him to DH more this year.  He's another kid that I'm hoping for a big improvement in.  But this starting rotation scares me to death, and we're counting on a lot of guys matching their biggest years ever, and that wasn't last year.  Mike Aviles is a great guy to have on your team.  He's not great when he's your starting 3rd baseman.  Early prediction...I go to more games this season than in the past 5.  The Royals fade early and we see young talent start to be brought in.  Probably looking at a record of 68-94 this year though, and Yost will be on a much shorter leash next year.
And switching gears, it's been a rough week for Missouri basketball fans as their # 1 target, Matt Painter of Purdue decided to remain after the Boilermakers upped his salary close to one million dollars over what he was previously being paid.  I assume that a portion of the fan base is going to blame athletic director Mike Alden for failing to land Painter, and for the fact that the news got out that he was attempting to hire him.  We'll also have a percentage of fans that will say Painter was doing nothing more than using the Tigers to garner a raise for himself.  I don't agree with either sentiment, but we're Tiger fans, so that's how it's going to play out.  Now Mizzou has to continue it's search, and I frankly have no idea where it goes, but I do know that regardless it's going to be ugly on the Missouri message boards.   

Monday, March 28, 2011

Are there any "mid majors" anymore?

I had a great little post written that I intended to roll out about how much I was starting to think Cuonzo Martin of Missouri State would make a great hire.  Then, before I could even get the damn thing out he goes and takes the job at Tennessee, a program facing sanctions from the NCAA for the past transgressions of former coach Bruce Pearl.  That being said, I have my doubts Martin was going to get an interview as all reports seem to indicate that Mizzou's first choice is current Purdue head man Matt Painter.  While that still seems a bit strange to me, apparently Painter has expressed interest in leaving the school he played for and assisted under his mentor, Gene Keady.  It seems that there may be some friction between Painter and athletic director Morgan Burke.  So, although I don't know that I consider Painter to be the home run hire that some do, I have to remember that I don't really follow basketball closely enough to be any sort of authority on who Mike Alden should or shouldn't hire.
One guy I do know that suddenly hit the lottery yesterday is VCU coach Shaka Smart, as his rams pulled off yet another upset, beating top seeded kansas 71-61 in a game that really wasn't as close as the score indicated.  His team now will meet last years Cinderella, Butler in one semifinal game next weekend with the winner playing against the winner of Kentucky/UConn for the national championship.  We've had these so called "mid majors" getting close and frankly, I kind of hope one of them wins it all this year.  With so many good players around now, and so many good young coaches, there's no reason one of these upstarts shouldn't bring home the hardware.  Smart or Butler head coach Brad Stevens would both look good cutting down the nets as far as I'm concerned.
On the other side of the bracket, we've got the Huskies of UConn, coached by Jim Calhoun facing Kentucky and their head man John Calipari going at each other.  The best part of this match up is one of the cocksuckers is going down.  As far as I'm concerned, they're 2 of the biggest reasons to cheer for the underdogs, along with ku coach Bill Self and Carolina's Roy Williams.
So the coaching search continues and if we don't hear anything by Wednesday or Thursday, it's likely we won't hear anything until the final 4 ends.  There's an unwritten rule about teams doing anything to take the spotlight away from the 4 teams in the championship round.  I probably should care more about the upcoming hire, but I can't say that I do right now.  I do know that I hope we see a coach standing on a stepladder a week from tonight that makes America say, "Who the hell is that guy?" 
If you'd like to get some stories on Missouri from some pretty darned good journalists, I'm attempting to consolidate some daily to keep you informed.  I'll be adding a Big XII section as well as serious news as well as the bizarre.  Drop by my website and head to "Current Events" to catch the thoughts of Mike and Gabe DeArmond, Bryan Burwell, Dave Matter and others.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The coaching search. Let the hysteria begin.

The Tigers are about 72 hours into the search for a new basketball coach.  I try to stay on top of things happening in the AD, but I'm really having some problems getting into this one.  Maybe it's the really foul taste from the recent departure of lma, (lyin' mike anderson) or simply the fact that I'm really more interested in what guys are making moves in spring football.  However, the school goes on spring break this week so I assume I'll start to get more interested in things occurring on the basketball front.  If I did have a personal favorite, it would be Brad Stevens of Butler.  He has the Bulldogs in the elite 8 again this year after taking them to the championship game last season, before falling to Duke in the final as a last second shot rattled out at the buzzer.  However, it appears that Stevens is happy at Butler for now.  I suspect he's holding out for the Indiana job when/if it opens.  Hell, he only looks to be about 19 or so, (actually, he's 34) so it's not like he has time to wait for a destination job to open up.  
The early favorites also appear to be a couple of guys that cut their coaching teeth in the state of Indiana.  One makes sense, and the other really makes no sense to me.  Matt Painter, the 40 year old head man at Purdue appears to be the early front runner, and as I say, it makes no sense to me.  He's coaching at the same school he played at, has been the Big Ten coach of the year 3 of the past 4 seasons, and, like Stevens may have designs on the Indiana job should Tom Crean fail.  However, there have been lots of rumblings that he'd be interested in talking with Mike Alden.  He currently makes 1.3 million at Purdue, which isn't chicken feed, but also isn't in the same neighborhood as the 2 million Alden had on the table for the guy that just left.  Also, rumors that he doesn't get along with athletic director Morgan Burke might be true, which would explain a lot.  Then he has a fan base that seems somewhat disinterested in paying more to keep him, thinking that if he leaves then they could just hire Cuonzo Martin, interestingly enough the 3rd guy on my list, and wouldn't miss a beat.  If Painter is indeed the guy targeted, we may know by Wednesday of this week.  Hey, if he were to sign he'd already have a nice collection of black and gold ties.
As I say, Martin is certainly a candidate, and he might be my first choice.  Currently the 39 year old head coach at Missouri State, was born and grew up in East St. Louis, played at Purdue and coached with Painter.  He has the ties to Missouri and should be able to recruit the guys anderson couldn't as he tried to recruit talent for his "40 minutes of mild inconvenience" system he ran at Mizzou.  I'm damn sure getting tired of watching highly rated St Louis kids like Beal, McLemore, BJ Young and others going out of state to play ball.  It would also serve as a nice reminder to the Missouri State fans as to how the food chain in Missouri sports works. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Missouri basketball. Where do we go now?

I was wrong.  I didn't expect to be writing this.  I thought Mike Anderson, in the end would have decided to stay in Columbia but now he's headed to Fayetteville to be the new head coach at Arkansas.  As would be expected, Tiger nation is in something of an uproar, while hog fan swarms to Missouri message boards to whoop "PIG SOOEY" to anyone that will listen.  I'm going to resist giving my opinion of  Anderson.  If you care about Missouri sports then I probably share yours.  We bought into his words about family, ethics and trust and were rewarded with lies.  But it's not the time to delve into cursing, moaning and tears.  The question is, where do we go from here?  You have a team that will feature 7 seniors next year and not 1 recruit coming in yet.  There's an excellent chance that the one guy you were in on, Otto Porter will now take his talent to kansas to play for Bill Self and the beaks.  It's sad times if your a Tiger fan.
So where does Mike Alden begin?  The program still has a shiny arena and some talent for next year.  It's important that a coach be brought in quickly that has some recruiting acumen.  There are 3 openings and precious little talent to be had at this point.  But next year, recruiting will be critical if the program is to continue the success that the last staff began.  There is Melvin Watkins, the associate head coach who's been considered to be the lead recruiter.  I know some believe he should just be promoted, since he brought some talent to A&M during his tenure.  But he also coached that talent to an 0-16 record his final season before he was fired.  In my opinion, Watkins would be the only guy I'd even consider keeping, but I think a new guy needs to be brought in, and he should be given somewhat free reign in bringing in his own assistants.  I think it would be better to just cut bait with the rest of the staff and move on.
I've got no idea where Alden begins to look.  It's Missouri, and as we've seen, we just aren't considered a destination job.  There doesn't seem to be the passion we have for football, and frankly there never was.  Even during Norm's heyday there were lots of open seats in Section D at Hearnes arena.  We were just blessed to have a good coach that bled black and gold, and was able to overlook the tepid support when the opponent wasn't kansas.  Will the Tigers be able to find such a guy?  I have no idea if any of Stewart's former players is coaching now, other than Kim Anderson at UCM, or Larry Drew who's currently an NBA assistant.  I might talk about some guys that are potential candidates, but I might not.  Frankly, the past week has kind of soured me on the program in much the same way I felt when Quin Snyder left.    

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Women's softball picking up steam.

I know I said I was going to talk about men's basketball but really, you can't write about the end of a season if you aren't sure you still have a coach after it's ended.  I think that Mike Anderson is staying at Missouri, but I certainly wouldn't bet the mortgage on it.  And frankly, you don't, under any circumstances pay him more than you're paying Gary Pinkel, who's won 48 games in the last 5 seasons.  You just don't.  It's a tight rope that Mike Alden is walking here and seeing that it's the third year in a row he's had to walk it, I imagine he's getting pretty damn tired of it.  Mike Anderson has done a lot of things right, but I'm not going to pay him like you would a Bill Self, Roy Williams or Coach K yet.  I imagine if you were privy to Alden he'd tell you there are a million things he'd rather be doing than going through rumors every year that his basketball coach is being pursued by others with open check books.

One thing I know he'd like to talk about right now is the women's softball team and their coach Ehren Earleywine.  The Lady Tigers currently sit at 21-3 and on a 18 game winning streak.  After the 3-3 start which was made up of mostly warm weather teams while the Tigers were forced into training inside, they've been on fire.  The conference season will be starting soon and we'll get a better look at how the ladies stack up against some pretty good competition.  But the pre-season hopes of a conference title and a long run in the college softball world series look possible once again.
Chelsea Thomas and Kristin Nottelmann are both appearing to be unhittable right now and the Tigers are averaging over 6 runs a game with Ashley Fleming, Rhea Taylor, Jenna Marston and Nicole Hudson leading the way.  It's going to be really interesting to watch from this point, as the team at this point appears to be serious contenders to go all the way with their balance and youth.  And while I'm not that big a softball fan, it's a hell of a lot more fun to talk about than basketball.     

Friday, March 18, 2011

Basketball season's over. Time to talk a little Gary Pinkel.

Basketball season ended with a thud last night as the Tigers fell 78-63 to Cincinnati last night.  I'm going to talk about that some as I get a chance to read a little more and watch as the Mike Anderson questions play themselves out.  But spring football is going on, Blaine Gabbert just completed his Pro Day exhibition and we have a quarterback question for the first time since Brad Smith's red shirt freshman year.  Since that day Mizzou has entered spring ball knowing exactly who the starting quarterback was going to be.  The fact that we don't know at the moment is due to the fact that Pinkel has recruited well enough that he's making a decision between two highly rated players that held multiple offers before picking the Tigers.   
Brad Smith carried the Tigers on his back during his time in CoMO and never had the advantage of having the talent around him that Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert had, but Brad also just didn't have the luxury of Gabberts arm or Daniel's decision making ability and swagger.  The Tigers would probably have won more games had they decided to let Brad be Brad and run an option attack such as Nebraska in their prime.  However, I doubt Chase Daniel would ever have wound up in Columbia on Saturday's if it hadn't been for the wide open attack the Tigers were committed to playing.  For that matter I don"t believe talent like Jeremy Maclin, Will Franklin, Danario Alexander, Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker would have played here, not to mention young guns like Bud Sasser, Marcus Lucas and Jimmy Hunt.  Pinkel made a conscious decision to place the program ahead of the current state of that team and has won 40 games the last 4 years by sticking to that decision.
As I said, I don't have any idea who will be taking snaps for the Tigers in September.  The 2 prime suspects would be between James Franklin and Tyler Gabbert.  Both have been making their case as to why they should be the starter this fall, but that won't be decided for some time yet, at least in my opinion.  I do think the winner will be more than capable of leading the team in what will be a much tougher conference.  I'm excited for the news over the summer and watching how things develop.  I've always been a football guy first.  But as I said, next time I'm going to talk about my feeling following a disappointing end to what began as a promising basketball season.

Monday, March 14, 2011

About basketball and other random thoughts

It's becoming an annual rite of spring.  March madness is about to begin, some coaches get fired and Missouri fan starts worrying about Mike Anderson leaving for greener pastures.  Now mind you, some of the guys worrying the loudest are the same fellows that were calling for Mike's head not two weeks ago, but then as I've posted before, Missouri fan is a complex creature, (I'm being kind) capable of arguing on both sides of a discussion, as long as it supports the viewpoint they have at the moment.  I look at it like this, Mike Anderson is once again a hot commodity and I don't blame him for wanting to make all he can while he can.  Hell, it's just business and that's the American way.  Currently talk is of him being considered for the Georgia Tech and Arkansas jobs, with the highest figure mentioned was 2.7 million for the piggies.  I'd like coach to stay.  He runs a clean program and has made Mizzou semi-relevant again in hoops.  But 2.7 million?  I don't think the university can justify that.  Pinkel makes 2.5 and he's won 48 games the last 5 years, and blown off opportunities to talk contracts with both Washington and Michigan the past 5 years.  I think the AD will offer around 2 million and if that's not enough, well we go coach shopping.
Who you got in the NCAA tournament?  I think this is one of the shittiest fields I've ever seen.  I have no problem with Mizzou's seed.  11 sounds about right and they should have a winnable first round game against the 6th seeded, Cincinnati Bearcats.  My problem is Colorado, a team that finished 8-8 in a tough Big XII conference, including 3 wins over the Kansas State Wildcats, a 5 seed in the tournament.  And what the hell has Michigan State or Illinois from the Big Ten to deserve an invitation over the Buffs.  Va. Tech for that matter.  Our little brothers in Springfield, Missouri State should have been in over all three that I mentioned.
Off the subject of basketball to something that probably none of you heard about, in TNA wrestling, one of my all time favorites, Sting held on to his world championship against Jeff Hardy last night.  Sting, or Steve Borden is now 52 years old and probably wouldn't be wrestling if it weren't for the fact that he's treated with kid gloves, and that, well it's entertainment, now sport.  Yes, I'm aware that it's staged.  Kind of like a sitcom and I get a kick out of them sometimes also.  But Sting won his match last night against an opponent, Jeff Hardy that's 20 years his junior in 1 minute and 28 seconds.   Now apparently Hardy came to the ring dead drunk so I guess that would take some of the luster off the win.  But I really like it that a fellow geezer is still able to do things like professional wrestlers do, which is perform high risk stunts.  The odds are really good that I never bring wrestling into one of my blogs again, but I wasn't going to miss this opportunity. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bi-Polar, or the Missouri fan base....

I've said this before and I'll say it again.  No group is more bi-polar than the Missouri fan base.  The football team wins the biggest game in recent history on homecoming last year and suddenly we're headed to the national championship game.  They go on to drop the next 2 in embarrassing fashion and suddenly we won't win another game.....ever.  Pinkel is a moron, Yost is out of his element and Blaine Gabbert sucks.  We had a few years when Quin Snyder was spiraling out of control where all we could muster up for the basketball team was apathy.  When we got Mike Anderson I was pretty happy, but when the team made the Elite 8 run a couple of years ago, the bar was raised and Mike started dealing with the same wild mood swings that Coach Pinkel has dealt with since the 2004 season.   
Now don't get me wrong.  I know the season hasn't gone the way any of us wanted, but when the football Tigers dropped the inexplicable loss to Texas Tech last fall, I saw fans completely writing off the season and putting all their hopes into a basketball team that still had more questions than answers.  The team put itself out there for these expectations somewhat but let's remember that these are 18-22 year old kids that have grown up thinking they're bullet proof.  I've gotten a chance to talk with juco recruit Ricardo Ratliffe and think he's just a really fun young man.  However I don't think Ricardo realized how much different the competition was going to be coming from a juco player of the year award into the Big XII, one of the toughest conferences in the country.  Another guy that's taken a lot of heat is Kim English.  All the kid's done is be the best ambassador for Missouri sports I can remember.  But he's become the whipping boy for a lot of fans as he set the expectations too high his freshman year.  The pressure appears to be getting to him as he accused the team of quitting after the conference tournament loss to A&M.  If Kim and the other players don't learn to ignore fans expectations, then I doubt next year will be markedly better.
I don't know any way you can get kids to listen to a geezer like me, so trying to think of ways to get to the team would be hopeless.  Hell, I'm not sure Coach Anderson can get to them right now.  I also doubt that I can get a fan base to change it's stripes, but if I have anything to say it's just quit worrying about the destination and enjoy the ride.  If the AD would determine to just concentrate on one or two sports and let everything else go to hell, those sports might well be more successful, but that just isn't going to happen, as I've discussed in a previous post.  But right now we have a football team that's won 40 games in the past 4 years and a basketball team that's had the best three year run in school history.  I don't worry about kids getting into major trouble and the coaches are graduating kids.  To me that's pretty good.  Would I love a conference title or, dare I say it, a national championship?  Well hell yes, but I'm not going to base my happiness on it.  Like I say, I'm going to enjoy the ride and hope we don't drive over a cliff.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Big XII tournament's in town.

The Tigers will come into Kansas City at beautiful Sprint Arena this week staggering after closing the regular season with 3 losses.  I'd normally say it's a new season starting and Missouri can still get some big things done this year, but I have no confidence that will actually happen.  Something's wrong with the team and I'll be damned if I know what it is.  I believe there's plenty of talent and Mike Anderson has a history of getting his teams to peak at tournament time.  Who knows, in 3 weeks the Missouri may be sitting in the sweet 16 and I'll feel like an idiot.  God knows it wouldn't be the first time.  For this to happen, there are going to have to be some things that happen.  I imagine these are obvious to all of you but that's never stopped me from writing about something before and I'll not let it stop me now.
Big men gotta get after it.  Laurence Bowers has been playing well as of late but he's got to get some help.  Steve Moore is usually good for 8 minutes a game or so and 3 or 4 really memorable fouls.  We need him to keep giving out some quality time to give our starters a breather.  Grab a couple of rebounds and wear down the opposition big men and that's all we need.  Ricardo Ratliff is talented but tends to get frustrated sometimes when he's not getting the ball.  I understand but he's just got to keep moving, keep working and stay positive and out of foul trouble.  Justin Safford needs to play within himself and not try to do too much.  Quit taking the 3 ball Justin.
Guards gotta keep their man.  Too many open looks this year.  We were spoiled by JT Tiller and Zaire Taylor the last 2 season.  They were like flies on a bull's butt.  Just irritating as hell.  We've got to quit losing our guys.  On the offensive end I'd like to see more drive and dish and less settling for the 3 point jumper.  Unless you're Marcus Denmon, in which case, don't be shy, shoot more.
The Tigers open Wednesday night at 8:30 against Texas Tech.  Should they win they'll meet up with 3rd seed Texas A&M on Thursday.  I believe the Tigers are already firmly in the NCAA tournament but I'd really like to see them win at least on in KC.  If you're in the area, or even if you're not, it would be nice to see a large Missouri crowd out making some noise.  After the game we can head over to Power & Light.  The first one's on me.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A true son, Chase Daniel

If he wasn't already, Chase Daniel became my favorite Tiger ever on Saturday.  He gave us a true revival in Mizzou football when he won 30 games in 3 years as a starter, and sat as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy his junior year.  He had the team within 30 minutes of football at the Big XII title game from playing for the national championship.  He was the heart and soul of 3 of the teams that won more games than any other in Tiger history.  If you were a Missouri fan you hoped that when he graduated that he'd get to realize his dream of playing in the NFL.  But, despite all the success and accolades he went undrafted before signing a free agent contract with Washington where he was released at the final roster cut.  He did however catch on with the Saints, where he is today, as the backup to Drew Brees.  I hoped he'd have a long and injury free career before returning to Missouri to begin his inevitable journey into coaching.
But Chase decided not to wait to express more thanks to the university and Coach Pinkel.  On Saturday he announced the creation of the "Chase Daniel Lone State State Scholarship", intended to pay for the scholarship of one football player from Texas, preferable to come play for Mizzou.  I'm going to play a hunch and guess that next year James Franklin will be playing on Chase' dime.  It's an incredibly generous gesture and while I don't expect it to impact Texas recruiting dramatically, it does free up some cash for recruiting trips, and does keep the Mizzou name and Chase in the same sentence.  He's still a legend in the Dallas area.  It also puts a little pressure on former teammates Jeremy Maclin, Sean Weatherspoon, William Moore and Ziggy Hood to think about doing something similar since they are all in the league also and probably making more money than Chase is as a backup.
I'm sure there have been other gifts such as this.  I believe that former hick defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh gave some large gift a last year and I'm sure there have been others.  I already expect former beak quarterback Todd Reesing to do something similar since he basically spent his career trying to be Chase.  Perhaps to immortalize his legacy at kansas he could award a membership to the "box wine of the month club" to a deserving member of the beaks football team.  Of course as long as the Reverend Gill is coaching them the kid won't be able to use it during the season.   

Friday, March 4, 2011

The state and strategy of the Missouri athletic department.

Mike Alden, a man with a tough job.
It should be hate week as the Tigers prepare to close the regular season in men's basketball against kansas, but I just don't feel the burn.  The season has been a bit of a disappointment and I'm certainly more of a football guy, but playing the beaks in hoops has been something of a losing proposition since Norm Stewart roamed the sidelines at Hearnes.  Instead, I've been thinking about the athletic department as a whole and how I feel about the success.  To start off, if you've read this blog for long you know that I'm a big fan of Mike Alden.  He's hired the people that, by in large, have kept Mizzou competitive in most of the 20 programs that the university supports.  Yes, he's last in league titles, but that doesn't paint the entire picture.    While receiving approximately 53 million dollars in funding last year, revenues were dwarfed by such departments as Texas at 120 million, Okie Lite at 88 mil, ku at 86, OU at 77 and A&M at 74 million.  How hard can it be to be successful when you're operating with that kind of financial advantage?   
The beaks pack the house.
An obvious solution would be for the Tiger fans to step up to the plate and donate more money, but frankly, I don't believe that's realistic in this economy.  I'm keeping up with my annual TSF donation, but with so much uncertainty I can't justify giving more.  Hell, the gas pumps and Price Chopper are taking all the more.  If there was some sort of consensus on allocation then it would make Mikes job easier.  kansas made over 30 million dollars more than Missouri last year but outside of mens hoops, where's their success?  One thing you can always count on is kansas fielding a national contender in basketball.  That's where their passion is and that's where they get their identity.  Oh, they may bitch about how bad their football team is, and they love to boast that they've played the all time series tightly against MU, but other than that, they aren't willing to demand a better football program or even to support one.  They'll let every other program die on the vine as long as mens hoops is appearing regularly on Big Monday.  I'm not saying it's right or wrong.  It's just their strategy.  Meanwhile, in COMO the strategy is to finish in the top 3rd of the conference in all sports.  Compounding the problems is the fact that Missouri offers more programs than Texas, who brings in more than 65 million dollars more in revenue.
Do you know which squad this is?
If I was running the show, which of course I'm not, I'd be figuring out how to whittle down the number to the minimum required, which I believe is around 14.  I don't want to seem like I'm picking on programs but come on, when was the last time you went out to watch a swim meet?  For that matter, what about womens gymnastics, golf or cross country by either gender?  Yes, they are legitimate sports and I'm glad that kids have an opportunity to earn a scholarship for activities they've excelled in, but sooner or later you have to be able to pay your own way.  I'd probably cut it down to 5 sports for men, with football, hoops, baseball, wrestling and track and field, and however many I could cut on the womens side to keep Title IX compliance.  And frankly, it may come to that.  And like I say, if your son is a great golfer and you were hoping he'd get a chance to play for the home school, I don't mean this as an insult.  But don't complain that the basketball team isn't doing as well as you'd hoped.  They simply are having to share too many funds with teams that don't begin to contribute anything to a strapped athletic department.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More questions heading into spring ball. The defense.....

Last year, under 2nd year defensive coordinator Dave Steckel the Tigers defense took a big step forward.  What seemed like an afterthought in previous seasons was actually responsible for some victories as Missouri reached double digit wins for the third time in four seasons.  Last year the Tigers allowed 30+ points only one time compared to five times the year before.  The fact that they improved this much would itself be impressive.  Making it even more so was the fact that during the season they lost their best player, Aldon Smith for 6 games as well as their best defensive tackle, Dominique Hamilton during the Oklahoma game and both starting middle linebackers, Luke Lambert and Will Ebner for various times during the year.
Dom Hamilton was missed badly.
The not so unexpected loss of A. Smith, who decided to declare for the NFL draft leaves another hole on a defense that already lost Andrew Gachkar at linebacker and 3/4ths of a defensive backfield that was light years ahead of where it was the previous season.  However, the emergence of Brad Madison makes it a little less bitter pill to swallow.  I expect him to step in to the starting lineup with returners Jacquies Smith, Terrell Resonno and Hamilton.  Other players likely to see action include Michael Sam, Kony Ealy, red shirt freshman Lucas Vincent and, if he finally arrives Sheldon Richardson.  It now appears likely that Luke Lambert will receive a medical red shirt and return with Ebner competing for the middle linebacker spot.  Zaviar Gooden returns at one outside spot while I expect Andrew Wilson to fill the other outside spot, although I wouldn't go to sleep on Darvin Ruise either.
It gets a little dicier in the defensive backfield where, as I mentioned 3 of the 4 starters graduated.  Safety Kenji Jackson is the lone returner, but sophmores Travon Bolden and Matt White both saw substantial playing time last year.  Fellow sophomore cornerback EJ Gaines is probably the odds on favorite to start on one side while Kip Edwards is thought by many to have the inside track on the other.  I'm going to go against common wisdom here as I think Tristan Holt will make the jump following a red shirt season.  

Whatever happens, it's going to be an interesting spring on both sides of the ball.  We've seen recruiting get a lot of play, especially in the 2010 class.  Now we'll see how many of those highly regarded players are ready to make a contribution in the all new Big XII - II.