Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's funny how things change...

By Commissioner

In anticipation of bringing back The Zou after a year and a half hiatus, I was reading through some of the old posts. I stumbled across this entry from April 13, 2006, outlining the “simple truths” of being a Mizzou fan. It reminded me just how much the perception of Mizzou athletics has changed thanks to the unforgettable 2007 season. The question is, what does the future hold? Mizzou fans are wired to wait for the other shoe to drop – and with good reason: Fifth Down, Flea Kicker, Tyus Edney, etc. But should we? Let’s a take a look back at those “truths”.

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.

Part of what made last season so remarkable is that no one outside of Tiger Nation saw it coming. There were no accolades (with the possible exception of Martin Rucker) and no preseason ranking, despite being picked to win the Big XII North. With a Top-10 preseason ranking and preseason All-Americans in Maclin and Willy Mo, this year will really test this truth. But don’t you trust this group of Tigers a lot more than the past?

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

This is simply not true any more – at least in football. Now we’re taking recruits from other schools (Blaine Gabbert, Wes Kemp, etc.). I think the whole “we don’t recruit, we select” thing is WAY over the top at this point, but the culture has definitely changed. It’s changed in basketball too: We’re not even in the running for big recruits. Sigh.

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

There hasn’t been a big hire since Anderson, so it’s hard to say at this point. The closest example is how they handled all the suspensions of the basketball team last year. In my opinion, it was a joke. A bunch of guys are involved in the same incident, but the only one who gets kicked off the team is the one who is injured and can’t play? It just made us look stupid. But, I will give credit where credit is due... Alden was right when he decided to hold onto Pinkel.

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

This is only partly true. The non-revenue sports are still performing at a high level... but Alden emerged from last year’s football season looking like a genius (except for that whole bowl game fiasco).

Gary Pinkel 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.

This is also not true anymore. Pinkel has crushed kU and K-State in each of the last two seasons. He’s also gotten the monkey off his back by winning at Colorado and other road venues. Next up is winning at Nebraska for the first time since 1978. Now if only we can beat Oklahoma...

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.

This is still true, but Mizzou fans stopped falling for it a couple years ago. Really, after Mizzou blew out Texas last year, did anyone think they could compete in the Big XII? I sure didn’t. I do think Anderson will get it turned around eventually... I just hope there are some fans left by the time he does.

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.

This is an interesting point. On one hand, we still have not won a Big XII title in a major sport. We haven’t won a national championship since the 1950s. But yet... something feels different. Mizzou is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Chase, Maclin and Co. are on the front page of every college football Web site. Last year’s MU-kU game was one of the highest rated games ever.

In 2006, I wrote “[M]any Mizzou fans seem to have a false sense of where Mizzou fits in the national consciousness . . . . 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.” Well, just two years later, Mizzou football is firmly planted in the national consciousness. And those national championship aspirations? They’re looking a bit more reasonable these days. It’s amazing how quickly things can change. Let’s just hope it continues.

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