2013 Tiger Mailbag: Ninth Edition

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Each Wednesday, 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 On to this week's inquiries:
Zoufan27 asks: In your opinion, what are the Tigers lacking with their inability to finish out close games? Is it a matter of coaching or team experience?
GD: I wish I could say I knew. I really don't get it. At this point all I can come up with is they get tense and it's in their heads. Because there's really no other reason that this team suddenly goes limp in the final minute. Obviously, it's started with Phil Pressey. And even in games where he's played fantastic, he suddenly doesn't make the right decisions in the final minute. I don't have an explanation for it. Maybe part of it is that Missouri is always going to have the ball in Pressey's hands to make the play, the opposition knows it and so it's easier to defend. I mean, I don't really know why that would be any different the rest of the game than it is in the final minute, but I'm reaching for answers here. Maybe it would help to put the ball in someone else's hands in the next close game and see how it works out. I guess that was a long way to say I have no idea.
8Tiger4 asks: In your opinion, what are realistic expectations for Mizzou baseball?
GD: To be kind, not very good. And it really has nothing to do with the personnel on the team. I don't know all that much about that part of it. What I know is that Missouri was not all that good in the Big 12 the last couple of years...and the SEC is a heck of a lot better than the Big 12. I've been to two other SEC baseball stadiums this year. They make Taylor Stadium look about on the level of where I played in my 13-14 year old league. Pretty much every program in this new league, at one time or another, has been a national power. Kentucky, Arkansas, Vandy, South Carolina are great right now. Florida and LSU are always good. A&M has been better than Mizzou the last few years. Tennessee, Mississippi State, at times have been among the nation's elite. Honestly, I'll be a bit surprised if the Tigers don't finish last. The analogy I've used a few times is that if Mizzou football jumped into the deep end of the pool in the SEC, the baseball program just jumped off a cliff.
corinthmike asks: Do all the people scheduled for junior day already have offers, if not who could pick one up.  Any possible commitments? 
GD: A lot of the junior day kids will have offers already, but not all of them. And there are often times a few commitments out of junior day. I'm not going to make predictions on specific kids, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a commitment or two.
TigerWhat2999 asks: IJust for fun, in your opinion who is the best athlete on the University of Missouri campus this school year?
GD: In terms of sheer athleticism, I'll go with Dorial Green-Beckham. But in terms of excelling in his/her particular sport, give me Chelsea Thomas.
BarnesTimothy asks: You are given a thirty minute, closed-door interview with anyone associated with Missouri Tigers athletics, past or present. You will not be guaranteed complete honesty, but it will be as private and intimate as an interview can be. Who do you interview and what is the first thing you ask?
GD: Interesting concept and there are a number of different ways you could go. Honestly, I think I'd pick Norm Stewart and just have him tell me stories. I don't think any one sports figure is more identified with Mizzou than Norm. There are individual stories like Quin's tenure and departure, the same with Anderson, etc, but I think the best interview is Norm Stewart.
mjkstl asks: How many verbals do you expect Mizzou to have for football by Memorial Day? Labor Day? What do the historical numbers tell you to expect at these 2 points of time?
GD: In the past, I think they've been around ten on Memorial Day and 15 or so on Labor Day. I think that might be a little slower this year. First of all, they're coming off a season where I think people aren't sure what the future holds. Second, they're expanding into new territories and recruiting kids that maybe haven't seen the campus a whole lot, so they might have to wait on visits a big more than in the past.
tigerdryer asks: Mizzou's struggles aside, is it not a little bit ridiculous how difficult it is to win road games in college basketball? It feels like only the elite programs can consistently get wins on the road (which helps them stay elite), but shouldn't the better team win at a higher rate, regardless of whether or not they're the home team?  Do you think it's a problem (officiating or otherwise)?
GD: It is crazy how much home court means in college hoops. I do think officiating has something to do with it, but I also think you have to acknowledge the fact you're dealing with 20-year old kids who have a lot of other things on their minds and probably aren't used to travelling to play this much. Like you said, the elite teams manage to win most of their road games. That's what makes them the elite teams. I don't think anyone can have the goal of going undefeated on the road. But if you can go 6-3 on the road in your league, you're going to have a chance to win your conference and be a very, very high seed. That's the goal these days.
Graphic Edge Guy asks: Give your choice for the following awards DURING YOUR TENURE at Power Mizzou.   The answers are expected to be primarily football or mens basketball...but you can elaborate if you have a choice from another sport so long as you add a pick from either of the revenue sports as well.
GD: 1) BEST ATHLETE during your tenure based on pure physical ability: Jeremy Maclin
2) MOST VALUABLE PLAYER based on contributions and sheer importance to his team while at Mizzou: Chase Daniel. And it's not close.
3) MOST UNDER RATED athlete (who contributed the most with the littlest fan-fare and notoriety): Demarre Carroll
4) BIGGEST HEART award (greatest competitor who regularly gave the greatest effort  regardless of the odds or situation): J.T. Tiller
5) "JIM THORPE AWARD" (The "All-Around Athlete"  who you think could have most likely have been a 3-Sport Star if he could have  played a Fall, Winter, and Spring Sport at Mizzou): Danario Alexander
6) "BEST QUOTE MACHINE:" Sean Weatherspoon
7) Love/Hate "MOST POLARIZING FIGURE:" Blaine Gabbert with Phil Pressey nipping at his heels
8) PURPLE HEART AWARD (hard luck due to injuries): Van Alexander
9) "MR. CLUTCH"  (best and most consistent clutch performer in pressure situations): Zaire Taylor
10) TIMEX AWARD (toughest athlete who could take a licking and keep on ticking): Marcus Denmon
11) "TRUE SON AWARD" (The athlete who seemed to most highly embrace,  love, and appreciate being a Mizzou Tiger and most deelply  bled Black & Gold....aka the Ultimate Ambassador for the Program): Kim English
12) ULTIMATE TIGER AWARD (The ultimate blend of Athlete/Character/Personality.  The one guy you'd most want your own son to emulate...or your own daughter to marry): Brad Smith
xccard4 asks: Assume Mizzou goes 3-1 in the final four regular season games, id predict the loss at Tennessee, and we win two games in the SEC Tourney.  Do the Tigers still make the tournament?
GD: Yes, and easily. This is a case of fans being hypercritical of their own team. There are a lot of teams losing out there. Honestly, Florida has lost five games and is, at worst, a two seed. Missouri has a great win over the Gators, a good win over Illinois and VCU. They have a decent win over Bama and no truly awful losses. LSU and A&M aren't great losses, but they're a lot better than some of the games the likes of Bama and Ole Miss have lost. If Missouri wins three of its last four and wins one in Nashville, the Tigers are in without having to sweat.
tommyjay25 asks: In your position, you have great access to the thoughts of potential football recruits on Mizzou and the SEC.  I'm very very surprised that the allure of playing in the SEC did not mean greater recruiting success for Mizzou/Pinkel this season.  Any thoughts on this?  Are there specific examples of kids Mizzou has got in the SEC they wouldn't have got in the Big 12, or is this simply a case of "win more" and you'll get better kids?
GD: Honestly, I'm a little surprised as well. I think the early momentum was really good on this front, but perhaps it lost some steam because the Tigers didn't do very well on the field. And, like it or not, they're going to have to prove they can win in the SEC or they'll continue to hear that they can't. And when kids hear something enough, they believe it. Perhaps we were all guilty of expecting immediate dividends when it will be more of a process, but I too thought it might mean more of a bounce early on.
pdmizo asks: Local talent is at a very high level for OL this year.  What's a reasonable goal on keeping as many here as possible?  Based on the EE situation, some comments were made by his coach about the staff not trying as hard as OSU in recruiting efforts.  Will this change recruiting efforts for local guys going forward?  

GD: Obviously, you'd like to keep all the linemen. But with three of them (Bauer, Johnson, Smith) already being national recruits, that's really not a realistic goal. The position is a priority for Mizzou and they need to get a good number of them, but I won't label any one or two guys as "must-gets." As far as the stuff said by Gus Frerotte, I don't think it's going to mean overarching changes. Honestly, we don't even really know if it's true. It was said and, well, whatever. You hear this every now and then from people, but you also hear people say nobody outworks this staff. So I don't think I'd go changing what I do based on one kid or what his coach says.
tommyjay25 asks: Have you heard anything of substance about the 2014 football schedule?  Is it 100% that Mizzou and Arky will begin their yearly rivalry that year?
GD: Nothing is 100% until it's signed on paper, but yeah, I think the Tigers and Razorbacks will start playing in 2014. Other than that, I haven't heard much at this point.
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