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March 20, 2013

2013 Tiger Mailbag: 11th Edition

The Tiger Mailbag is sponsored each week by Duke's on Grand. To find out more about a loyal Mizzou bar in Kansas City, click on the logo above.

Each Wednesday, PowerMizzou.com publisher Gabe DeArmond 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:

mjkstl asks: Who's going to be the final 4 teams in your bracket and who is cinderella this year?

GD: I have Louisville, Georgetown, Indiana and Wisconsin with the Hoyas over the Cards for the title. The Badgers could be a bit of a Cinderella as a five in the Final Four. I think Iowa State's got a shot to beat Notre Dame and Ohio State to get to the Sweet 16 (that team can really shoot it when it gets hot). I have Bucknell beating Butler and South Dakota State over Michigan as my major upsets. And keep an eye on VCU to the Elite Eight by beating Kansas...although the Rams hardly qualify as a Cinderella anymore.

tommyjay25 asks: To this point, what has the most significant athletic victory in the SEC been for Mizzou? Women's basketball win over Tennessee, football win at Tennessee, or men's basketball win over Florida.

GD: Has to be the wrestling title...oh, wait, that was the MAC. In all seriousness, it's the hoops win over Florida. The term "most significant" automatically limits it to football and hoops. Football's win over Tennessee was exciting, but the Vols weren't any good. Honorable mention to Mizzou baseball's shutout of South Carolina last weekend.

MoDude21 asks: First Question. Haith has received his letter from the NCAA and he has,what, 60 days to respond? After that what are the chances he, and the University, comeaway with any substantial penalties?

Second Question. There is a lot of love out there for what the BBall team at the "U" has done this year. But when I look at the roster10 of the 13 kids were recruited by Haith and only 1 of the remaining 3kids plays more than 6 minutes a game. Why does Haithnot get any credit for putting together 2 NCAA quality teams?

GD: Haith has 90 days from whenever the Florida game was to respond, so that puts it in early to mid-May. And I don't think there's any real concern he'll get anything significant in terms of penalties.

As far as the second question, I've heard Haith get some credit. I think it's a fine line. If you're a Missouri fan, who gets credit for the Tigers last year? Haith or Anderson? You can't very well say Haith to that question and then also give him credit for Miami in my opinion. Add in the fact that it's Larranaga's second year and his most important player, Shane Larkin, is one he brought in, and I think he's put his stamp on that team. Frank recruited some talent to Miami, but Larranaga guided them to a special season.

pdmizo asks: Any updates on Mizzou and where things stand with Morrison? What type of impact will Henson being OC have on getting more OL recruits this year?

GD: As far as I know, Jackson Morrison does not have a Missouri offer right now. If he gets one, the Tigers will be in very good shape, I think. And maybe Andy Bauer's commitment to Ole Miss could make that happen. On the second part, we'll have to wait and see. I really don't know if it will make a major difference or not.

mglassma asks: What have you heard regarding the progression made by Harold Brantley? And did Lucas Vincent primarily lose his spot due to injury or did Hoch outperform him? Who do you believe the game one starters are at DT? What kind of season do you foresee Markus Golden having?

GD: At this point, I have only seen one practice because I'm covering hoops until it's over. I haven't seen a lot out of Brantley yet, but I know the staff is pretty high on him. If I remember correctly, Hoch had beaten out Vincent prior to Lucas' injury. But I think both of them start game one next season. As far as Golden, he's probably Mizzou's third defensive end at best, maybe fourth. Kony Ealy and Michael Sam should start and Shane Ray showed some potential last year as well. That doesn't mean he won't have a good year, but I don't think he's a starter until next season.

tommyjay25 asks: Without throwing individual student-athletes under the bus, what has been the biggest factor in Mizzou failing to use the momentum from the Cotton Bowl year to improve their recruiting numbers? I think we all hoped that having such a season would make Mizzou a more-highly-thought of destination for elite high school football talent. Instead, it feels like the Tigers are still in the "trying to catch lightning on a bottle" mode as it pertains to the program.

GD: Missouri signed Michael Egnew, Blaine Gabbert, Zaviar Gooden, Jerrell Jackson and Aldon Smith in the Class of 2008. All are in the NFL. They also got Wes Kemp, Brad Madison, Andrew Jones, Rolandis Woodland, Dan Hoch and Brian Coulter. I think that was a pretty good class. In 2009, they signed two quarterbacks and neither ever played (Blaine Dalton and Ashton Glaser) so that's a miss. But they got starters in Sheldon Richardson, Michael Sam, T.J. Moe, Kendial Lawrence, Jarrell Harrison, L'Damian Washington, Justin Britt, Andrew Wilson and Donovan Bonner. Nine starters and at least a couple of NFL players isn't a bad class. I'd have to go back and see who they missed on to decide if there's merit to your premise of failing to capitalize on the recruiting year. The bottom line is that Missouri just isn't a program that's ever likely to be in the nation's top ten in recruiting rankings. They have to hope to be in the top 25 and get those players to outperform those rankings. That didn't happen last year.

mizzouboy714 asks: Is Gary Pinkel on the hot seat? If so what is the bare minimum he has to do to keep his job?

GD: Pressure is mounting, no doubt. The seat's as hot as it's been since around 2005 or so. I don't want to put a specific number of wins on it because I think you have to see exactly how the season goes. I will simply say that a losing record would, at the bare minimum, raise the volume of the questions that might currently be whispered.

tommyjay25 asks: If and when HCGP is given his walking papers, how much of a look would Andy Hill get for the full-time job?

GD: Unless Andy has gone somewhere else to be a head coach for a few years at that time, I would assume very little. Whenever Pinkel leaves, the chances of Alden handing over an SEC football program to a guy who has never been a Division One head coach are virtually non-existent in my opinion. First of all, very few SEC schools would go this route. Second, Alden did that once and it ended him up in the Quin Snyder Experience. He isn't likely to do it again with either of his major programs.

muman01 asks: Since it will take the football staff awhile to get any foothold in the fertile southeast, and it appears the SEC move hasn't had the desired affect in Missouri, how can MU even have a prayer of competing with the middle group of SEC schools?

GD: I know you are overstating your question for effect, but I'll answer the question with a question. What is your definition of competing in the SEC? Winning it? No, not likely. But they weren't winning the Big 12 either. Let's say the upper tier of this league is Bama, LSU, Georgia, Florida and (right now) South Carolina.

Missouri isn't going to catch the first four on that list on anything approaching a consistent basis. In the Big 12, the goal was to be the third or fourth best program and turn that into a first or second-place finish now and again. Missouri did that. The goal in the SEC, to me, is to be somewhere in the five to eight range as a program, which means every now and then you're going to beat Georgia and/or Florida and put yourself in a position to win the East and maybe get to an SEC title game. And once you're in the SEC title game, it's pretty likely you've got a good shot at a BCS bowl.

To do that, Missouri needs to be 5-3 on a regular basis, 6-2 sometimes and better every now and again when the stars align. That means beating Vandy, Kentucky and Tennessee while they're down. Beat Arkansas and win one more pretty much every year. Sometimes beat SC or Georgia or Florida, or maybe even two of them in one year and you're headed in the right direction.

Give Missouri a healthy quarterback that plays well and a better offensive line and let's see what happens the next couple of years. My biggest disappointment with the fans and the media this year has been the complete cliff-jumping performance after one bad season. It was said over and over by people at A&M and Mizzou, this isn't a one-year decision. I said a number of times, if you're just looking for the place you can win the most football games, especially in year one, you should have gone to the Big East. Cheer for Louisville. They win a lot of games, but they're not a great program because, frankly, they only play two or three decent teams every season. I understand it's a symptom of the instant gratification sports fan society we are a part of, but it's, for lack of a better word, pathetic to see how many fans and media are screaming, "Missouri should have just stayed in the Big 12!!!!! They'll NEVER win in this league!!!! NEVER!!!!" To be honest, it reminds me of the temper tantrums my kids used to throw...when they were three.

I'm not a what if guy. Your record is what you are. But Missouri was THREE PLAYS from 8-4 last year (Vandy, Cuse, Florida). THREE PLAYS. Is that not competitive? They weren't competitive against Alabama (hardly anyone was) or South Carolina (bad day) or A&M (every sign in the world pointed to that). And that's not a good thing. But at the same time, to act like this team just flashed back to 1986 is ridiculous. Let's see how the next five or ten seasons go before we throw in the towel and start cheering for Northwest Missouri State because they win a lot of games. /rant.

jmdgaza asks: Based on this year's class, CFH has appeared to elevatedBB recruiting. With that said,do youthink Mizzou is better served byrecruiting talented one and done players and hope that they can gel into a cohesive team ina short time periodor recruit less talented players that will stay for several years and have time to learn to play together?

GD: I think you recruit the best players you have a legitimate chance to sign. If those guys leave after one year, that's a good thing for your program. It means they were good and, probably, that your team was good. However, I think it's tough to get those kids unless you're one of three or four schools, and I think it can also lead to some issues.

There are examples of all kinds of approaches working. John Calipari has made a living off the one-and-done guys and has been incredibly successful. There are programs that have almost never had a one-and-done guy (can't recall one at Michigan State) that are very good.

For prolonged success, I think it has to be a mix. Two guys that jump to mind for me are Billy Donovan and Bill Self. I think their programs have been among the ten best in the country for a decade now. Both schools have had a couple of superstars that only played a year or two. But both have also had some guys that were very, very good college players, but maybe not good enough to leave until after their junior or senior years. Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Patric Young, Mike Rosario, Mario Chalmers, Joakim Noah, these are all guys that were great college players on great college teams. But they weren't lottery picks after one year so Self and Donovan had a chance to build programs around them, rather than build teams around them.

In an ideal world, what you get is a couple of guys who are good enough to go pro after a year but enjoy the college experience and stick around for three either because they love college or because they don't want to go to the NBA and take two years to develop into a good pro when they can do that at this level. Then you surround them with strong role players and you've got a chance to be good for quite a few years.

kklgu21 asks: What does your ncaa bracket look like? Who are your big upsets in the tournment? Who was left out of the tournment that you thought of should have been in and who is in the tournment that you think should have been left out?

GD: I posted my Final Four and major upsets above. As far as teams left out and all that, honestly, if you left yourself in a position where you COULD be left out, that's your fault. I've never thought it was a big crime that the 65th best team might have been left out of the tournament while the 71st best team got in. Should have won a couple more games and left no doubt. I believe Kentucky, Tennessee, Baylor and Virginia are better teams that probably would have a better chance to go deep in the tournament than LaSalle, St. Mary's or Middle Tennessee. I'm a major conference snob. That said, I don't think any of those teams can really complain too loudly that they were left out. Play your way in. Don't lose to Vandy in the conference tournament, don't fall apart against Oklahoma State. Win two more games and nobody is talking about how you got screwed (which you didn't).

mwj1984 asks: Who is the better SG prospect for the class of2014Russell or Booker, and who does Mizzou have better chance of landing of the two?

GD: I'm no recruiting analyst or talent scout. They're both good players and I don't think highly enough of my opinion to pick one over the other. My opinion is that they have a better shot to land Devin Booker because of the connection with Melvin.

murphfan03 asks: Being a fan as you are, as a journalist, how hard is it to report just the stats and not let your emotions take over the article?

GD: Nobody believes this, but I'll give you the truthful answer anyway. I grew up as a Missouri fan. I went to school here. Would I rather they win than lose? Sure. And I don't have a problem with journalists who admit that they want the team they cover to win. First of all, it's more fun to cover a winning team. Second of all, you don't just completely turn it off. What I have a problem with is the people who allow it to change the way they do their jobs. If you go back and read the stories I wrote after the win over Kansas in Columbia and after the loss in Lawrence, I would hope you would come away thinking I did a good job of representing what happened without coming off as happy or unhappy.

And honestly, I don't get happy or unhappy after games. I PROMISE (again, I know you won't believe me) that when I'm at a game, I am covering it. It's a job. There's no real emotion about it. After the loss at Kentucky this year, I told my wife, "I'm not mad they lost. I'm mad I drove seven hours to write the same story I've already written five times this year." After the game, I get paid to do interviews and write stories. Win or lose. Like I said, I'd rather have been in the locker room in Nashville asking a smiling Laurence Bowers about the shot he hit to win the game than asking a crying Laurence Bowers about the pass he threw to Marshall Henderson. But I didn't lose sleep over it.

In summation, I'm not saying I have no preference. I fully admit, for a number of reasons, I'd much rather see Missouri be successful than not. But at the end of the day, I have a job to do, and I have to do it no matter what the scoreboard says. To be honest, it's frequently MORE important I do it well after losses than wins.

tommyjay25 asks: Just an answer straight from your gut: Where does Mizzou men's basketball finish in 2013-2014 in the SEC? Does next year's group make the Big Dance?

GD: The league is going to be a lot better. Kentucky will be much improved and I think Tennessee will have a legitimate chance to win it. If BJ Young and Marshawn Powell return, Arkansas can be pretty good. Florida will be strong again. LSU will be better. Missouri will probably not be quite as good a team, but that doesn't mean they'll have a worse record. If Phil Pressey is back, I think this is an NCAA Tournament team. If he's not, I think it's a struggle unless Jordan Clarkson and Johnathan Williams III come in and are quite a bit better than expected and Earnest Ross and Tony Criswell are reliable, much-improved players.

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