Any major decision in our personal lives…changing jobs, changing marital status, changing residences, etc….has many considerations. So…it’s also true on the collegiate side of things also….Mizzou is at the point of making a major decision…a crossroads…in its major revenue sport—Football.
….First of all, let’s begin with a look at the Decision Maker– Athletic Director Jim Sterk. Jim Sterk was named the 20th Director of Athletics @ Mizzou’s on Aug., 9, 2016. His resume included leading athletics programs at San Diego State, Washington State and Portland State. Sterk arrived @ Mizzou after leaving San Diego State. He was there from 2011-12 thru 2015-16. He has proven to be a terrific fund raiser.
He promoted the Tiger Scholarship Fund (TSF) with great success. He landed 7,000 donors to raise a school-record $50.4 million during the 2016-17 fiscal year, shattering the previous record by more than $4.7 million. TSF’s record-breaking total, which included new pledges and cash gifts, was aided by a school-record 11 gifts of $1 million or more. This is a HUGE plus for an AD. Money talks…and talks louder than any wins or losses…unless the losses impact the income. Currently he’s sitting in a very powerful position due to the funds. Landing a Head FB coach is important to the income…what’s he looking for?
1) An experienced, winning Head Coach @ Major College level with a “name. When Sterk floated out his first group of top 3…it floated about as well as the Titanic; 2) Probably a coach the “opposite” of his predecessor…Odom was a defensive coach….look for a Coach with an Offensive bent in next coach; 3) A coach that knows the Mizzou situation– It ranks among the bottom 3-4 annually in SEC revenue. It’s probably in that same tier when it comes to winning. The stadium has recent updates. The fan base is solid… but in Missouri..in the 2 largest cities… there are professional sports teams (football & baseball) which share the sports dollars with the college game. There are no professional teams in these SEC states-Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky Arkansas, S.Carolina and only in New Orleans in Louisiana while in Georgia, all the pro teams are located in just 1 city(Atlanta) . So…the college team in those states draw the entire passion, adulation.. and money… of the sports fans in these states. And…football is king… hence…college football is king in those Southern states…but not in MO. 4) A coach who can bring in some top-level recruits is required in SEC circles. Many times during Odom’s tenure, we got hard working 2nd tier players or players who failed to develop…e.g. TE Albert Okwuegbunam, who seemed to regress badly in 2019…with poorer blocking skills and a severe lack of self control –causing penalties.
….Sterk’s background in hiring Head football coaches has mixed reviews. While @ Washington in the Pac 10/Pac 12, He hired two Head Coaches. Bill Doba was hired in 2003, coached 5 years held a 30-29 record. Following him was Paul Wulff who went 9-40 in 4 years. At San Diego State, which competes in a bit lower conference, the Mountain West, he hired Rocky Long in 2011. Long is still in that position with a 78-36 @ San Diego State and has won 2 conference championships and tied for a 3rd title. Sterk has accomplished one major hire at MU….Cuonzo Martin in Basketball. Martin was hired in 2017 and posted a 20-13 record in his 1st year while going 15-17 last year. Currently, Martin is 4-4 in 19-20 season.Sterk’s piggy bank will need to be tapped…and heavily… with this next football hire but…going back to point 1…he’s been a very effective fund raiser so I think he can jump that hurdle if need be.
Some other crossroads…
…With 2 losses and no consideration of NCS possibilities in 2019, one may think that Nick Saban will will be at a crossroads with his staff. I doubt it…since, he seems to prefer turnover on his staff each year anyway. Check out the Bama O & D coordinators of the past 5 years.
2019–Steve Sarkisian – Offensive coordinator; Pete Golding — Defensive coordinator/inside linebackers
2018–Michael Locksley: Co-Offensive Coordinator; Tosh Lupoi: Co-Defensive Coordinator
2017–Brian Daboll-Offensive coordinator; Jeremy Pruitt-Def Coordinator & Tosh Lupoi-Co-Def Cord
2016–Lane Kiffin-Offensive coordinator; Jeremy Pruitt-Def Coordinator
2015–Lane Kiffin-Offensive coordinator; Kirby Smart-Def Coordinator
If you see only 1 name next to a Co-coordinator….it was the only one listed….maybe… Saban considers himself the other Co-Coordinator?! Much to my disappointment, Saban was whining about the final penalty called on Alabama that wrapped up the Auburn victory in the waning seconds. “I really feel that it was a pretty unfair play at the end of the game,” Saban said. “They substituted the punter as a wide receiver, so we put the punt team in. And then when the quarterback was still in there we tried to put the defense back in. I thought they should have given us a little more time to substitute and get [Jaylen] Waddle out as a returner. We get called for 12 guys on the field.” Btw… Mr. Saban, it isn’t the officials’ task to take care of YOUR substitutions. The multiple coordinators could mean one of a lots of things—1) Saban uses/learns the new ideas of a fresh coordinator..then finds the next “new” idea man (it’s called the Kleenex Principle—use em, throw em away quickly) 2) The Coaches get that year on their resume & tire of Saban & move on; 3) Bama coordinators are offered plum Head Coaching positions.
…The Mizzou basketball loss to Charleston Southern(3-5) (ranked #327 out of 353 teams) was one of the worst ever. Southerns’ 5 losses had been by an average margin of 39 points! Southern was a 26 point underdog, had lost 15 straight games against power 5 teams. Charleston Southern Buccaneers ranked No. 353 in Division I in 3-point shooting — out of 354 teams. Seeminlgy out-doing their opponents at their own game, Mizzou shot 4 of 26 from beyond the arc (wouldn’t you stop shooting them at some point and go inside?) and swallowed a huge, devastating upset pill. Ugh!
…It brought back nightmares of other horrible MU basketball losses….just briefly…you can’t dwell on it too long….In 2005, Quin Snyder’s team lost to Sam Houston State (not at the Alamo)..on the court… 80-77,then in 2012 the always powerful, Norfolk State, beat the Tigers(30-5) in an NCAA OT game 86-84. Finally, the mighty Quinn fell to Belmont 71-67 in 2003.…2016 saw Kim Anderson’s team drop a 67-64 game @ Mizzou Arena to E. Illinois and 8 days later lose to Libscomb 81-76 on the same court…finally, the stunning upset by Coppin State over Mizzou@ Hearnes Center in 1997,78-70.
Still more crossroads…
…The NCAA-F games this weekend has made it easier to determine the final 4. My first 3 picks remain the same as last week: 1) LSU 2) Ohio State 3) Clemson and now #4 is Oklahoma. I think that this process is at a crossroads. Make the determination of the final NCAA-F teams be decided on the field. My idea… all Major 5 champions advance..the 6th spot would be determined by the power 5 team that lost by the narrowest margin in the Championship game OR the best Independent Team. The committee could seed those 6 teams each year. There would be 2 first round games..seed #6 v #3 & # 5 v #4.
…moving past the crosswords of his collegiate career is a local player, Jr. AJ Epenesa. A 6-6, 280 lb def end from Edwardsville HS and currently at Univ of Iowa, he was named Big 10-1st Team All-Conf. He earned the Big 10 Def Player of the Week-3x this year! He may enter the NFL draft this year because some mock drafts have him listed as high as the #6 overall pick of the draft, several others in the top 10!
…the State of Texas is at a crossroads…for years…even decades…it was the Cowboys that owned the state and the NFL(Nearly Forgotten League). The “Boys” haven’t even won their Divisional Championship game since…..ready…1995! They won the Super Bowl that year over the Steelers 27-17… Btw…I knew that Tom Landry was a long-time coach but I had no idea….he was HC from 1960 through1988!
…clearly a star & not at a crossroads, StL HS star, Bradley Beal is 5th in the NBA in scoring this season with a 28.3ppg. The 26 year old is now in his 8th NBA season and holds a 20.2 lifetime scoring average.
…moving again down the road, Tommy Pham gets traded by Rays to San Diego. Pham continued his strong OB% career mode with .844 mark in 2019. The Rays obtain a high prospect Xavier Edwards and a slugger, low average type hitter in Hunter Renfroe. Renfroe batted .216 with 33 HR last year. Tampa Ace LHP Blake Snell wasn’t happy about the trade, “”I’m more just upset that we gave away a huge piece of our team,” Snell said. “He was the swag of our team. He lifted a lot of our position players up with just his presence and made other guys more swaggy. Pham definitely plays with emotion.. generally, fans LOVE to see it, at least I did. I guess, the MLB management guys don’t prefer it..they want those cardboard type players… no depth to their personality.
Now, I’m at my crossroads…..I’m choosing “the END” road!
…Is 26 year old Josh Hader (Mil) at that crossroads already? After May/June ERA’s of 0.71/0.68, he seemed to lose a bit as season progressed…In August, his ERA was 5.79 but Sept/Oct saw a drop to 1.88. His OB% for 1st half was .187, 2nd half OBP was .269. In 3 seasons, he’s been in 151 games with many of them in high stress times. Watch him closely as season unfolds.
…the Cards have reached a bit of a crossroads….do they REALLY want to “go for it all” or just inch along to a slightly better, younger, cheaper team. How excited would the fan base be with the acquisition of Mookie Betts. It’d come for a package of players—maybe Edman, Arozarena, Martinez, and Joe Throw-In. He’ll probably bring along a $27+m contract…but hasn’t suffered any major injuries, is only 26 years old so he’s entering his prime years, and does all the things that really good players do on winning teams. I’m probably dreaming ….but…why not go “all in”..(because it cost money!)