Thursday, April 13, 2006

Since this blog began in January, we have already seen many examples of the trials and tribulations that make being a Mizzou fan so frustrating. Based on these events, here are some simple truths that will see all too familiar to the Tiger faithful.

If Mizzou has a top 25 preseason team and a consensus All-American, the team WILL fall apart and the player WILL underachieve or get injured.

The most recent example here is the Mizzou baseball team. The Tigers started the season ranked No. 10 in the country and Max Scherzer is still projected to be one of the top picks in the next MLB draft. But the Tigers have failed to live up to the hype. They are now 16-15 (6-6) after last night’s 9-5 loss to a mediocre SEMO team. Scherzer, meanwhile, has done his best Mark Prior/Kerry Wood impersonation: pitching well in between a variety of injuries.

See also: The top 10 basketball team with All-American candidates Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson miss the NCAA tournament; the top 25 football team with Heisman candidate Brad Smith fails to make a bowl game; the top 10 basketball team with All-American Kareem Rush stumbles into the tournament with a No. 12 seed.

If Mizzou is the front-runner for a top-flight recruit, he WILL change his mind.

Ty Morrison was the No. 1 Juco recruit in the country. Somehow Quin Snyder convinced him to come to Mizzou. Now that we have a real coach, Morrison wants find “a really good situation.” What?

See also: Brandon Rush (brother of the aforementioned Kareem), Tyler Hansborough (in-state product and lifelong Tiger fan)

If there is an important personnel decision to made, the athletic department WILL handle it poorly.

I am personally thrilled with the Mike Anderson hire… but as usual, the AD managed to screw it up. First, there was the embarrassing resignation/firing scandal. Then Alden waited far too long to make a hire. Then, when it looked like we were finally ready to begin a new era, the Curators called a last-minute meeting that delayed to whole process and accomplished nothing. Brilliant!

See also: the forced resignation of Norm Stewart, the firing of Larry Smith

No matter how badly the revenue sports perform, a non-revenue sport WILL accomplish something great to keep Alden looking good.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of my former classmate Ben Askren and the women’s volleyball team. It’s a nice change of pace to attend a Tiger sporting and see a winning attitude and a team that actually works hard. But every year we have an event like Askren’s national title or the volleyball team’s Elite Eight run that makes it very difficult to justify firing Alden.

See also: Derrick Peterson’s national title, Christian Cantwell’s international success, occasional runs by the women’s basketball team to the NCAA tourney.

Gary Pinkle WILL struggle against against mediocre teams from kansas, but win a big game or two late in the season to make fans forget that his team has underachieved.

It happens every year and it is happening right now. Tiger fans are building up a false sense of optimism because of Mizzou’s remarkable Independence Bowl victory. Our selective memory allows us to conveniently forget losing to kU for the third year in a row and blowing yet another lead to a BAD Kansas State team. But we beat Nebraska last year, Tiger fans exclaim! No, Brad Smith beat Nebraska last year. I think Chase Daniel is a good QB, but the supporting cast is not up to par and he is not the kind of gamebreaker that Brad was. I’m afraid we are in for a rude awakening this fall.

See also: Mizzou beats Nebraska in 2003 after getting slaughtered by kU the week before, Mizzou knocks Iowa State out of the 2004 Big XII Championship game in overtime after losing to kU

The basketball team WILL inexplicably win a couple big games in the middle of the season, tricking Mizzou fans into believing that it has finally turned the corner.

We all swore it wouldn’t happen this year. We knew this team was bad and we knew it was a lame duck season for Quin. After the Tigers lost their opening game of the season to Sam Houston State and suffered the worst loss in Braggin’ Rights history at the hands of Illinois, our suspicions were proven correct. Then they ran off four straight wins, including their Big XII opener. We raised a collective eyebrow. Then they shocked Oklahoma in Norman and we moved to the edge of our seats. Then they stunned kU with an amazing come from behind victory… and we were back. Foolish things were said: We might make the tourney! Quin might save his job! This team might be better than we thought! And then, they fell apart. When will we learn? Probably never.

See also: Wins over Gonzaga and Oklahoma in 2004-05, wins over Indiana and Oklahoma in 2003-04

Bottom line: We WILL be a second-tier athletic program until the problems are fixed… and that means we need change in the athletic department.

I hope to see the Tigers become a national athletic powerhouse in my lifetime. But many Mizzou fans seem to have a false sense of where Mizzou fits in the national consciousness. Our last national title in a major sport (baseball) was in 1954. We have zero Big XII titles. Zero Final Fours. Zero BCS bowls. It’s time to face the facts: We aren’t a bad athletic school, but we’re also not a great one – and we won’t be until there are significant changes in the athletic department administration. I hear a lot of Mizzou fans criticize the Big XII, saying the “Texas schools” pull too much weight in the conference. FYI: these four schools from Texas have combined to earn national titles in football, baseball, women’s basketball, track, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, and volleyball. They also account for the reigning Big XII Champions in nine of the 16 competition sports. Compare that with the accomplishments of schools like Mizzou, Iowa State or Kansas State and it’s easy to see why they have so sway. These same delusional Mizzou fans think we would be better off in the Big 10. Really? You think we will carry more clout than Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State? Give me a break.

This wouldn’t be a problem if Mizzou fans understood our place in the national athletic hierarchy. We could revel in upsets and rally behind our teams when they make a surprising tournament run. We could spend our time worrying about the type of people in our program, not how many wins they have. We could have a lot more fun – and be happier as fans. But as a whole, Mizzou fans don’t get it. They expect national titles, even though they have no reason to. Then, when the teams inevitably fall short, they get upset. They say people should be fired. They tear apart 19-year-old kids on the Internet. They say we are cursed. But maybe the only curse we have is a fan base with unreasonable expectations.

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