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July 11, 2012

2012 Tiger Mailbag: FREE 25th 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:

CullyBryant asks: In your time with Powermizzou, what's the one story you most wished would go away? Conversely, which story has been the biggest dud - the one you thought had potential to be a big deal only to fizzle?

GD: As far as what I wanted to go away, it had to be Quin/Clemons and everything that went along with it. It just never went away. To some extent, it still hasn't. There are still a few people who haven't come back to Missouri basketball because of those years. It wasn't a fun story to cover and, for about four years, it wasn't a fun program to cover after that. Seriously, I live 1.6 miles from the arena. If I hadn't been getting paid to go to games, I wouldn't have gone. It was just a dreadful program to be around.

The second part of your question is easy: I was pretty sure Missouri was going to be in the Big Ten. Because people on campus were pretty sure Missouri was going to be in the Big Ten. This is a case where reporters and message board posters who know people end up looking bad even though they weren't really wrong. There were plenty of people being told by very good sources that the Tigers were Big Ten-bound. I will forever believe that many on campus actually thought it was a done deal. And then it fell apart and Nebraska took the spot and we had to deal with 12 months of Missouri fans talking about Deaton and Alden being bumbling idiots and Missouri being left holding the bag once again. I'm not sure that's exactly what you're looking for because that story wasn't a dud, it just didn't have the ending Missouri fans had hoped for (at least not for another year or so).

Jay0864 asks: Refresh my memory on the last Mizzou basketball exhibition tour. Was it when CMA the coach and Mizzou toured Canada? And was that the year the team went to the Elite 8? How valuable will this exhibition tour be for CFH and the team? Especially for this year's team as compared to last year's experienced team?

GD: Correct, that was the last one I remember. And players and coaches on that team always said that trip is when they came together, when they became a team. The hopes, obviously, are that the same thing happens for this year's team. There are a lot of new pieces. Oriakhi and all the other transfers have to fit in. Bowers has to come back healthy and get reacquainted. I think this is a perfect year for a trip like this.

tommyjay25 asks: Pertaining to basketball, what should be considered a "successful" season for Coach Haith and the boys in year one in the SEC both in SEC finish and NCAA finish. Is it realistic to think that Missouri could be the pre-season favorite in the SEC? I know that Kentucky is the defending national champion and re-loads, but I gotta think a fairly veteran, deep, and motivated (hello Norfolk?) Mizzou team could hold their own against Cal's boys

GD: In reverse order, no it is not realistic to think Missouri will be the SEC favorite. I view the SEC the same way I did the Big 12: Until somebody else wins it, there's no reason to pick anyone but Kentucky. Yes, they lose a lot. But they've lost a lot every year for the last five and always come back just as good because they recruit on a different level than EVERYONE ELSE in the country. So Kentucky's the favorite no questions asked.

As for a successful season, I'd say a top four finish in the SEC which would give you a shot at a top four seed in the NCAA. I do not judge seasons by what happens in the NCAA Tournament, and I have long said this, even before last year. There was a time when many thought Bill Self was a coach who choked in March (some still think it). He didn't get the credit he deserved because Kansas hadn't made a Final Four. Be that as it may, give me a team that wins 30 games every year and I'll take my chances that eventually they break through and get there. Self did. Along the same line, Missouri suffered what may be the biggest upset in tournament history last year. Yes, it takes some of the shine off the season. But it was still a damn good season. Too many things can happen in March. Motivated mid-majors, bad matchups, one off day, whatever. So I never predict how far a team can go in the tournament until the brackets are out and I never judge an entire season on how far they go.

JoeinDC asks: Pick one guy from the football team that is currently not known nationally, but that you think will be by season's end. I would pick Marcus Murphy. Who you got?

GD: E.J. Gaines. He had a phenomenal season a year ago. I've heard whispers for a year he could end up as the best corner Missouri has had under Pinkel. I think those are becoming more than whispers. Receiver is the one position where I think most would argue that the Big 12 is not only as good as the SEC, but perhaps even better. I mean, you're talking about guys like Bryant and Crabtree and Maclin and Broyles and Blackwell and Kendall Wright and many, many more. And that's just in the last six years or so. I think Gaines has a chance to be an absolute star.

mjkstl asks: With Glaser leaving, we know Franklin is #1, Berk is #2, Who would be #3 if Mauk redshirts? Say we get to late November and so far Mauk was not needed, but a #3 is needed? Would they burn a shirt for a game or two? What is your burn or no burn point?

GD: Mauk is #3. I think whether you'd burn the shirt would depend on where you're at in the season. If you're 8-2 and winning the last two games would give you the East title, you play Mauk. If you're 6-4 and you've already made a bowl game but you can't do much else, maybe you put in the walk-on and tell him to handoff a lot. But probably not. If it comes to a point where the #3 quarterback has to play, Mauk will play. The ONLY way I think that might not be true is if it's in a bowl game. You don't burn the shirt for one game. But more than that, you have to. Sending out a walk-on quarterback that nobody has ever heard of probably isn't fair to the kid or the team.

genevasper@sbcglobal.net asks: What upgrades do we see for football in 2013, 2014, 2015? What is the maximum projected seating for the stadium after planned upgrades are done? Do you think MU will play Nebraska again in football or basketball within the next 3-5 years?

GD: They already laid out all the current plans for upgrades a couple of weeks ago. The eventual plan, from what I've heard, is to redo the South end of the stadium and include football offices (and maybe even a weight room) overlooking the field, similar to what Boone Pickens State did a few years ago. Alden said eventually Memorial Stadium would hold "a little north of 80 thousand."

I think Nebraska would be a great game to be played in football for sure. If you can get them to play it in KC, do it. I don't think it's something either team would want to do every year, but I think it would be a great non-con game to have every so often. As far as basketball, whatever. If they play, fine, but Nebrasketball has never really gotten anyone's blood boiling, even in Nebraska.

mugreek06 asks: Do you see MU switching defensive schemes with the LB talent that on the roster and incoming recruits? Or with the powerful SEC OLines would it be idiotic?

GD: No, I don't think you switch schemes based on having big numbers at one position over a couple of recruiting classes. I think the LB talent that is currently on the roster plus what comes in next year allows you to focus on other positions for the 2014 recruiting class (and maybe even 2015 to an extent). But I don't think it impacts what you choose to do on the field. The elite teams in the country have this problem at multiple positions. They bring in a bunch of good players and the ones that don't crack the starting lineup decide what they want to do at that point. That's what Missouri needs to try to do.

cfudgeman asks: I have heard that the number of players allowed on the sidelines during an SEC game is much smaller than in the big 12. The question is what is that number and how much smaller is it than in the Big 12?

GD: Honestly hadn't heard that, but I'll find out. I would assume that means road games, right? At home games, everybody gets to suit up and run out. On road games, there is a limit. I can't remember exactly what it is, honestly, but they usually take just a handful of freshmen on road trips. I'll check into it and find out.

mexicojoe asks: Norm's really good teams all had Missouri high school guys as both stars as well as important role plyers. Same is true of Haith's team this past year. Norm did it with John Brown, again again with Dressler, Stipo, Frazier, Sundvold, again with Crudup, and Peeler. Haith with three KC guys. Coincidence or necessity?

GD: I would say coincidence really. I mean, you're going to have Missouri kids on the team pretty much every year because if a kid is an elite player in the state, Missouri is going to recruit him. But I'd argue those teams don't do well without Willie Smith and Doug Smith and Melvin Booker and I'm sure I'm missing some guys here. Haith's team used three KC guys, but it's not the team it was without Phil Pressey and Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe. The 1980-83 run was a little unique because you had two absolutely elite players in the state in Stipo and Sundvold. But basketball recruiting is national for pretty much everyone. Yes, if there's an elite player in your state you have an excellent shot at him, but you recruit all over. In football, Missouri absolutely HAS to get guys like Jeremy Maclin, Blaine Gabbert, Sheldon Richardson and DGB. Because if those guys grow up in Texas or Florida or Michigan or Nevada, Missouri has no shot. But in basketball, you can get elite players from pretty much anywhere.

Mokane asks: Is there any realistic chance that kickoff for the ASU game will be any earlier than 1:00 pm? Is it likely to be later, or maybe even an evening game?

GD: Anything is possible. It will be no earlier than 11 and no later than 9, that's about all I can tell you. I haven't looked much into all the available television windows for SEC games and I haven't looked at all at what other games are on certain weekends. I know it's tough for planning on fans' part, but I pretty much wait until two weeks before to find out kickoff times. Every now and then, I'll hear something like with the Nebraska game a few years back or the ASU game last year being moved to a different night, but for the most part, when the announcement comes out, then I make my plans.

MIZZOURA asks: I keep hearing that the hype on Coach Haith is over the top until he does it with his own players. For me a coach that comes in and takes over a team that did not meet expectations, then lose Bowers before he ever got started is an indication that he can put some coaching on kids.

As I look at next years team, and the loss of 2 assistants, I am curious as to how you think this team will jell. With Ross and Bell having practiced with the team all of last year, and Bowers back, do you see the chemistry thing moving forward, or will it take a while for the new pieces (coaches and players) to become a team?

One of my concerns is that Pressey and Dixon are not big. How do our conference match ups look with the potential for bigger guards putting the clamps on these two if they're on the floor together?

Lastly, Do you think that Oriakhi will show some of the same skill improvement under the rack that we saw with Rat, or did he just have great hands that were not used with MA?

GD: The chemistry is the one thing we don't know. Haith has talked about it, Bowers has talked about it, everybody knows it. Sure the talent is there, but as has often been said, "the games aren't played on paper." We don't have any idea how well they will getl or how quickly.

As far as Pressey and Dixon, I do think size is somewhat of a concern. But they'll just have to make up for it with quickness. If you get a team that's red hot from outside, yeah, they're going to be able to shoot over those guys. But how many times will they have the ball taken away before they get to the point on the court they can shoot? You emphasize your strengths and try to minimize your weaknesses. It's all you can do.

Finally, on Oriakhi as compared to Ratliffe, I don't have a clue because I haven't watched Oriakhi play all that much. I don't think Ricardo became a whole lot better player last year. I just think he started focusing on what he did well. He never shot outside of eight feet. He found a few things he was good at, a few moves he could make, and he took advantage of them. I think Ricardo deserves credit for that, but I think the coaching staff does too.

doya asks: I keep reading about kids committing left and right, especially down here in the southeast. Is it my imagination or has Mizzou's recruiting hit the slow burner. On twitter, the analysts constantly say kid X has gotten offered by this school and that school, rarely do I see any mizzou's name in the mix ? Is it our coaches philosophy or is it the move or just my imagination ?

GD: I think it's largely your imagination. First of all, Missouri had more commitments by June 1st than it's ever had. There are MAYBE 25 spots in this class. Thirteen of them were full on June 1, just four months after Signing Day. If you average 3.25 commitments a month, you're going to end up with 40 commitments. That's too many. By simple math there HAS to be some time when recruiting slows down.

In addition, Missouri got most of the in-state guys early. Those are the guys that commit in the spring. The guys who know your program, who have been to campus, etc. With out of state guys, especially with the focus shifting from Texas to the Southeast, you're going to have a lot of kids who have never been to campus. They're probably going to need to take an official visit to check things out. Those don't start till September 1. I think that's the reason you're not seeing the out of state list fill up quickly.

Bottom line, there should be absolutely no reason for concern about recruiting on July 11th.

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