It was just two years ago when the Missouri Tigers won back-to-back SEC East Championships. They couldn’t be any farther away from that than they are now.
Being a freshman this year at Mizzou, I experienced my first homecoming here this year, and it didn’t disappoint. The atmosphere on campus was electric. Everyone was rocking the black and gold, you couldn’t walk five yards without walking past a different tailgate tent set up. It made me really wonder: what was it like here when the team was one of the most competitive programs in the country?
Going back to their Big 12 days, the Tigers were never an easy team to beat. For a team to come to “The Zou” and pull out a victory, it was no small task. From 2005 to 2014, the team went 96-48 under head coach Gary Pinkel. In that time, the Tigers won at least seven games every year, save for two seasons: 2012, their first year in the SEC Conference, and last year, 2015, when team protests and racial issues surrounded the campus and program. As I said before, the team won two SEC East Championships in that time, two Big 12 North Championships, and even climbed to the top of AP top 25 poll in 2007, claiming the number one overall spot at one point.
Unfortunately, after the 2015 season, Pinkel retired. Newly appointed head coach Barry Odom hasn’t quite filled those big shoes thus far. After starting the year off 2-3 with losses to Florida, Georgia, and LSU, three programs with a lot of winning history, I wasn’t panicking.
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I knew it wasn’t likely for our young team to pull off any of those upsets. However, Saturday’s loss is one that could make Barry Odom’s tenure as head coach a very short one.
No disrespect to Middle Tennessee, but as an SEC program, there’s no reason why the Tigers should not have won by a decent margin. Quite the opposite happened, as Mizzou gave up 51 points to the team from Conference USA–not only at home, but in their homecoming game, as I mentioned earlier. The offense did score 45 points, but wasn’t able to make plays when they needed to down the stretch.
Quarterback Drew Lock has been as inconsistent as possible. He played brilliantly against teams like Eastern Michigan and Delaware State (as he should’ve), and in the Georgia game he was impressive up until the bad decisions he made in the second half. However, what he showed against above average teams like LSU and Florida was simply awful quarterback play. He has all the athletic ability to succeed, but someone on that coaching staff has to step up and figure out a way to maximize that ability and put him in positions to be successful. Obviously he can’t do it by himself; the receiver positions have to step up, eliminate the dropped balls and make the plays when they are there to be made.
A bowl game seems to be out of the question at this point, so there needs to be some serious rethinking done by newly-appointed Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk in regards to the coaching staff. Barry Odom is a great story; he played for Mizzou’s football program, was an assistant under Pinkel for years, and got hired on as the head coach following Pinkel’s retirement. As likable of a guy as he is, though, it doesn’t matter if you get results like the one on Saturday. Something will have to change.
Former Missouri defensive end and current Denver Bronco Shane Ray did not approve of the team’s showing, as he took to Instagram and posted this photo:
Ray just stated what we were all thinking: the team that we’ve seen the past two seasons is not the Mizzou we know.