Putting aside all of the rumors of Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel resigning from his position, whether for personal or professional reasons, let’s discuss why now is not the time for anyone inside the University of Missouri and/or its football program to make a change. The sting of Saturday’s 30 point loss is still fresh, but I only have to point to a couple of reasons for Mizzou fans to step back from the ledge and think about the future of Tiger football in a reasonable manner and not demand a complete rebuild after one, 5-7 season.
First, your starting quarterback James Franklin was never healthy. I’m not buying that after his shoulder surgery in April, that Franklin was 100% healthy at the beginning of September…he may not have even been 80% or 70% of full strength. When most teams have a starting QB who is out because of an injury, or playing while injured…the teams doesn’t play well. Why do you think everyone is making a big fuss about the 49ers with Kaepernick? It’s an odd occurance to see a team succeed with a backup. So right from the beginning, the Tigers were hampered at the most important position on the field.
Second, look at Mizzou’s first SEC schedule. Five of their seven losses came against teams in the Top 10 of the BCS Standings. That’s brutal. Let’s put that into some perspective, and look at A & M’s schedule for example. I only pick them because this was their first year in the SEC as well.
Not to take anything away from A & M, but let’s be honest, they caught lightning in a bottle with Johnny Manziel, a good pick up and freak of nature when it comes to true freshman at the quarterback position. However, even with Johnny Football, A&M lost to Florida at home, lost 24-19 to LSU (again at home), and squeaked out a two point win against Louisiana Tech. Now, granted they escaped with a five point win over Alabama, and I mean escaped. That was huge, but Bama was coming off an emotional win at LSU the week before and after a slow start, the Tide ended up outscoring A & M 24-9 from the second quarter on. A & M may have lucked out playing Bama after that emotional win the week before in Baton Rouge. The Tigers? Oh yeah, they played Bama who was coming off of a bye week. In addition, the Aggies played Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. Not as tough of a conference schedule as Missouri.
If Mizzou got a little help on the schedule and switched out A&M and Bama for Arkansas and Auburn, don’t you think Mizzou would be bowl eligible? Plus, let’s take Arizona State and a late season game against Syracuse and replace them with a South Carolina State and Sam Houston State like A & M and you have easier non-conference wins.
Oh and don’t give me the weak, “Yeah, but Mizzou lost to Vanderbilt,” excuse. That was another game Berkstresser started.
Give me an easier schedule and a healthy shoulder on my starting QB and even with all of the issues on the offensive line, and this year’s Missouri team could have won 8-9 games. Just shows the small margin of error in college football. Hey look, injuries are never an excuse and neither is scheduling, but they were factors and in a year when the Tigers had bad luck, it all added up to one difficult season and based on those reasons I mentioned, it’s enough for me to allow Mizzou and the coaching staff a little wiggle room.
It’s great to see the fans not happy with a losing. When I first moved here to Missouri in 1995, all I heard from fans after a hard fought loss was, “Well, at least we gave them a good game.” That mentality has ended, thank goodness, for Mizzou fans. Monday night on Coach Pinkel echoed those same feelings.
AUDIO Pinkel on the fans when he first arrived at Mizzou (:23)
Now, moving forward…it’s up to Pinkel and his staff to A), develop and recruit second and third string depth and B), examine practices within your program that better protects the health of the team, because the SEC schedule won’t easier. So, for the first year, yeah I’m willing to give a pass on 5-7.
***Audio courtesy of the Tiger Network/Learfield Sports