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June 6, 2012

2012 Tiger Mailbag: Free 20th Edition


Each Wednesday, PowerMizzou.com publisher Gabe DeArmond and recruiting editor Pete Scantlebury will answer questions from subscribers in our Tiger Mailbag. This feature will allow for longer, more in-depth answers than you may get on the message board on a daily basis. To have your question in next week's mailbag, send an email to Gabe at powermizzou@gmail.com. On to this week's inquiries:

tommyjay25 asks: What do you favor, eight game conference schedule or nine game? Why? And what type of scheduling formula would you like?

GD: I'm for an eight game schedule for the same reason most coaches are: Difficulty. Almost every team is going to schedule that 12th game against a patsy in the non-con. It's not a guaranteed win, but it's as close as you can get. If you run the table in an eight-game schedule in the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12, you are good enough to play for a national title. And then you still have to win a league title game (at least in the first two). Why add another game? Winning ten games in leagues like that is really, really tough. Conferences benefit from having any of their teams winning a national championship. Playing an extra game decreases the chances that will happen. In addition, with an eight-game league schedule, you still get some really good non-con games like Missouri going to Arizona State last year or Bama-Penn State last year. With an extra conference game, I think teams would be less willing to schedule those games.

As far as the format, there really isn't a good way to do it. I'd prefer to do away with the "permanent rivals." By forcing a cross-division game on everyone, you only get to play the other non-division teams once every six years. I'd rather see LSU and Bama twice in six years along with Arkansas only twice than playing the Razorbacks every year and those other teams only once. There are arguments on both sides of it, but that's my personal preference.

mjkstl asks: What role will newspapers have in the year 2020? Many readers have gone from newspaper to reading content online.

GD: It's one of the most fascinating questions in our business and I surely don't have the answer. Also, I'm probably coming at this from a biased viewpoint, but I do have some idea of the newspaper business since my dad was in it for 40 years. First off, let me say that I know a lot of people who write for newspapers and a lot of them do a really good job. I hope newspapers remain viable for their sakes.

2020 is only eight years away and I don't see newspapers just going away in that short a time period. If you'd asked about 2035, my answer might be different. But I think the key is for papers to adapt the way they do things. Many already have. They're blogging, they're posting video, they're doing real-time stories at halftime and immediately after games are over because that's what is demanded. When the game ends, everybody already knows the score. By the next morning, the only people reading the game stories are the die-hards. They know what happened. They've seen the highlights, they've read the analysis, etc. They don't need a generic recap of what happened. And that's where I think newspapers will change. I think you will see them becoming more magazine-like in some sense. More in-depth features, less just recapping the news and the games. Like I said, by the time they read the paper, they know that. It's kind of like what Sports Illustrated was 20 years ago. By the time the magazine came out on Monday, there was no point writing about a specific game or event. Instead, you use that event as the platform to do a wide-picture, more feature-like story. Maybe that's where newspapers go.

The other problem is how do papers continue to justify the cost of the print edition if everything that is in the paper is online for free? I read a lot of newspaper articles. But I haven't read an actual newspaper with any regularity in ten years. I read them online. If they're available for free online, why would I pay to have the paper in my driveway? You've seen a lot of newspapers go to online subscription models. And I think it's a good idea. But there's a problem with it. People don't want to pay for something that's always been free. Rivals.com and our model works because it was a pay site from the beginning. If we'd come on at the beginning and given everything away for free, then suddenly five years later started charging $9.95, we'd have had a whole bunch of people say, "No way I'm paying for that." And I think that's what you'll see to some extent with newspapers. They will get some people to pay the fee, but will they get enough to offset the cost of what they're losing in print subscriptions? I don't know.

The bottom line is I don't know where the newspaper business is headed. But if either of my kids wants to go into journalism, I'll tell them to look for work online. The fact of the matter is, you can't be in this business without having an online presence and being social media savvy anymore. The best newspaper guys understand that and are constantly interacting with their audiences on Twitter and blogs and the like. Those who aren't won't make it long-term.

pdtiger asks: Can you more fully explain all of the different types of "offers"? It is apparent that not all offers are "let us know when and if" you want to commit! Are there different types of limits....time....only if so and so doesn't commit.....we'll call you when the "offer" is yours to accept....and so on.

GD: In the truest sense of the word, you either have a scholarship offer or you don't. But, as you said, there are different levels of that. Whether that is spoken or communicated to the recruit, I don't know and it probably depends on the program or the individual coach. There are players who have permanently standing offers. In other words, you have an offer and you'll have an offer until Signing Day. There are others who have "offers" but a commitment wouldn't be immediately accepted. Perhaps a school needs two running backs. They have offers out to ten kids. But there are two they like the most. The other eight could want to commit, but the school likely isn't going to take more than one of them (and maybe none) until those top two make a decision. Then there are the time-sensitive offers. In other words, "You have an offer from us. But you have to decide in a week. If you haven't committed by then, we can't promise we'll have a spot for you."

mexicojoe asks: Which would you prefer, a win over Alabama or a win at South Carolina?

GD: I think you'd have to be happy with either one. A win over Bama would give you all kinds of national publicity and credit. It would also put you a game ahead of what anyone expects. At the same time, the SC game is on the road and it's also one most will pick Missouri to lose. It has the added advantage of being a division game. If you beat the Gamecocks, you essentially have a two-game lead on them in the SEC East. The easy answer is the Bama game and I wouldn't argue with anyone who picks that option. But I think in terms of the 2012 season, a win at South Carolina would be more important.

PaulEC asks: Are the coaches and the football coaches in particular friends outside of coaching? It would seem to me that a few definitely dont like each other and I have heard Spurrier is one that really gets under other coaches skin. Have you ever witnessed any coach dissing another or heard any rumors about any particular coaches?

GD: I'm sure it's like any other field in that it depends on the person. Every coach has other coaches he is good friends with and some he can't stand. Spurrier probably bothers other coaches because he beats most of them a lot more often than they beat him. I'd be willing to bet most coaches loved Turner Gill. Why? Because they pretty much always beat him. But it's like anything else. There are people in the media I like hanging out and having a beer with when we're done working and there are others you couldn't pay me to see in my down time.

mufootball1 asks: The 2013 class currently has 13 commitments. Let's assume a class of 21. How many of the remaining 8 spots get filled with DT's? In your opinion, would the staff have to reach a bit to get 3 or 4 DT's?

GD: I think you will see five or six defensive linemen in this class with a minimum of three of them being players Missouri projects at defensive tackle. It is without a doubt the number one position of need in the class. They've got Antar Thompson so they need at least two more in my opinion.

bandg4ever asks: What have you heard about our assistant bball coaches interviewing for other jobs and should fans be concerned?

GD: Really, I only know what you know, which is reading a blog that said Ernie Nestor interviewed at Navy last week. He very well may have. He's close with Navy head coach Ed DeChellis and he's an East Coast guy for much of his career. But one person I talked to around the program didn't have any knowledge of it before I told him about the story and didn't believe Nestor was going anywhere. I do think it would be a blow to the staff to lose Nestor, but at this point, I don't have any reason to believe it's a strong possibility. And if he left, Haith would get somebody else, just as he did when Isaac Chew left. When you win, people will want your coaches. Period. I'd be surprised if Tim Fuller didn't have an opportunity to be a head coach some time in the next couple of years, particularly if Mizzou is very good again this season.

Graphic Edge Guy asks: I can understand the fairly "moderate" expectations most have for Mizzou Football heading into 2012 because of all the unknowns (Franklin's shoulder plus all the other key players who missed Spring Ball with injurys, the loss of Josey for the season, plus questions at kicker, safety, DT, etc). But when I think about how good we can be if our team health comes around and a few very talented newcomers emerge (Baggett at kicker, DGB at TE, Ray at DE, Murphy and Steward at RB...plus the X-Factor of Sheldon emerging as a BEAST at DT...I get down right "giddy" and think we might emerge from no where to "a MAGICAL Season like 2007" if we can get off to a fast start and pull the upset at home in week #2 vs UGA. Is this type of hope at all "realistic" in your opinion...or am I totally off base by thinking we could be in store for a pretty special season with a few breaks?

GD: I don't think you're totally off base. I mean, it isn't impossible. At the same time, it takes a lot of things going right. Look back to 2007. That team needed a last-minute interception to beat Illinois. It got Nebraska at home for a prime-time game that is the most jacked I've seen a crowd at Mizzou outside of maybe Oklahoma 2010. It survived a late rush by Kansas. There were no major injuries. I would venture to say virtually every major contributor to that team played at or above pre-season expectations.

If Franklin is great and Lawrence and company ease the loss of Josey and Elvis Fisher is a star and Sheldon Richardson is a star and Gaines and Edwards lock down the outside and Braylon Webb steps up at safety and the kicking game isn't a concern, sure Missouri has a shot at a great season. But that's a lot of ifs. There is no doubt the Georgia game is a key. Win that and things look a lot brighter. Follow it up with a win at South Carolina and the optimism will be off the charts. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet.

vvn8bs asks: Why do people continue to ask if the spread offense can be successful in the SEC when three of the last six BCS champions were SEC teams running some variation of the spread offense (Florida 2006, 2008 and Auburn 2010)?

GD: For the same reason people are saying Missouri will flounder and A&M will flourish in the SEC. People are slow to accept change in sports. But to be fair, the teams you mentioned had two of the greatest, most dynamic college quarterbacks in the history of the game. Is James Franklin equal to Tim Tebow or Cam Newton? If he is, sure, Missouri will put up plenty of points in the SEC. But I don't even think Franklin himself would proclaim we know enough to put him on that level at this point in time.

In addition, let's look at those teams. In 2006, Tebow was a situational sub for Chris Leak. Florida scored more than 28 points exactly ONCE in the SEC. The Gators didn't win by putting up video game offensive numbers that year. Now, in 2008, the Gators put up 30 in EVERY SEC game. But they also gave up more than 21 only once all season. They had a hell of a defense. Auburn won with 17 points against Mississippi State, 24 against LSU, 27 against Clemson, 28 against Alabama and 22 against Oregon.

I don't think anyone is making the argument a spread offense can't win in the SEC. However, a spread offense ALONE isn't going to win. There are going to be games you have to win 20-17 in the SEC much more often than you have to do that in the Big 12. Over the past few years, Missouri hasn't done a lot of that (but they've done it more recently). From 2003-09, Mizzou won just seven games when it scored less than 30. In the last two years, the Tigers have matched that number, winning seven times with fewer than 30 points. So that's a positive trend.

seventhchildfifthson asks: How much time do you spend at athletic offices? Just curious if you are there much, or if it's a no-no, or you work from a secret remote location. Are the coaches hospitable? Or, are they like Colonel Jessup, sneering at you when you are near?

GD: I'm at the athletic facilities for media days, practices and games and that's it. I'm not hanging out in the bushes getting clandestine glances at what's going on or snapping phone pics while I sneak into meeting rooms. I'm like anybody else. Some coaches and players like me and some probably hate me. Whether they like me or not, I just need them to respect the job I do and I'd say most of them do.

Graphic Edge Guy asks: Amazingly (from where this roster appeared to be heading a year ago for 2012-13)..the talent level for Mizzou Basketball appears to be as high as it's ever been heading into the season.

1) List the TOP FIVE things that most ecxite you about this year's hoops team.

2) List your TOP FIVE concerns.

GD: I don't know if I'd say the talent level matches teams in the late eighties and early nineties that had the likes of Chevious, Smith, Irvin, Peeler, etc, but I understand the optimism.

Top five things to like: Phil Pressey, the returning backcourt, Alex Oriakhi giving them a legit presence in the middle, the return of Laurence Bowers and the options Frank Haith has due to depth.

Top five things to be concerned about: Matching last year's chemistry, is Bowers going to be what he was before the injury, do they have a cold-blooded shooter like Denmon, is the incoming class ready to contribute and (I know my opinion on this, but it will be asked and it's fair to ask it) was last year a reflection that Frank Haith is a far better coach than anyone gave him credit for or did he win because Mike Anderson left behind a lot of pretty good players?

MFJT2 asks: If Bob Bowlsby is the gold standard of conference commissioners, what standard would you apply to Mike Slive? For that matter, what standard would you apply to Dan Beebe?

GD: Bob Bowlsby has never been a conference commissioner, so I don't think you can say he's the gold standard for anything (and that's not an insult to Bowlsby at all, about whom I've heard nothing but positive things). But Slive is a diamond. He's the most powerful man in college athletics. Everybody who's been in a room with him says he just owns every room he walks into. Gary Pinkel talked in one of Dave Matter's stories about the respect all the coaches in the SEC have for Slive. Beebe is the guy who nearly killed the Big 12. Twice. He may be the nicest guy in the world, but Chuck Neinas appears to have achieved more in 12 months than Beebe did in however many years he ran the league. History will not be kind to Mr. Beebe (other than the legacy of creating the Fake Dan Beebe Twitter account which is one of the greatest things to happen in the short history of social media).

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