Well well well...Mizzou Volleyball was selected for their 8th straight NCAA Tournament after all. I guess the Strength of Schedule (and their reputation) paid off. The 17-12 Tigers will play the overall #6 seed in Seattle Friday at 5pm CST. It will likely be a one-and-done for Mizzou, but the streak continues, and that's pretty cool. The Missourian has more.
Anyway, back to Arrowhead. Pure pandemonium swept across the field as the Tigers celebrated last night's victory before heading into the locker room. Nose tackle Lorenzo Williams literally collapsed near the 10-yard line and kicked and screamed like he just won the lottery. Chase Daniel leaped into quarterbacks coach David Yost’s arms like they were long-lost brothers. For the second November in a row, Martin Rucker strutted around the field carrying the MU-KU bass drum like it was his to keep forever. Coaches and players hugged and blubbered like babies — truly painting the most jubilant scene I’ve ever witnessed covering this program.
There was so much to celebrate at Arrowhead: Missouri's first team championship, the Big 12 North Division, since 1969, when it won the Big Eight Conference ... A first-ever spot in the Big 12 championship game ... a victory over archrival Kansas, not to mention the satisfaction of spoiling the Jayhawks’ unbeaten season ... Daniel’s legitimacy as a Heisman Trophy contender (go ahead and start shopping for a suit, Chase).
And, perhaps most inconceivable for a program that’s had to force smiles over December trips to Shreveport and El Paso, the promise of opportunity. I never thought I’d type this sentence, but there’s absolutely no reason Missouri cannot play for AND win the national championship. Beating Oklahoma won't be easy, but read that sentence again and keep in mind it’s Nov. 25. There’s absolutely no reason Missouri cannot play for AND win the national championship ... in football.
Not surprisingly, the Trib's not the only paper talking about Mizzou's BCS ranking. The KC Star, Missourian, and Post-Dispatch all tackle the topic as well, and ESPN's College Gameday Final column has quite a few Mizzou blurbs as well. Also, Stewart Mandel talks about how, led by Mizzou and West Virginia, the spread has taken over college football.
"We came into the locker room (in October) and said that we need to see them again," MU cornerback Castine Bridges said. "Now, it's happening. ... We get to compete with them and show them a better game."
Nose tackle Lorenzo Williams, an Oklahoma native, did Bridges one better, suggesting MU would have to play "a perfect game" to win.
The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
Although MU has beaten OU only once since 1983, this Mizzou team is a tier above those of the last generation and among the best in school history. Meanwhile, Oklahoma is formidable but hardly invincible, having lost to Colorado and Texas Tech — teams MU beat by a combined score of 96-20.
The P-D's Graham Watson shows some love to Chase Daniel's two favorite targets on Saturday, Danario Alexander and Tommy Saunders.
Finally, the P-D's Bryan Burwell, one of the first major columnists to hop on the Mizzou bandwagon this year, is excited.
Ever since he arrived here from Toledo seven years ago with that jutting rock jaw and all these grand football ambitions, Pinkel has always managed to envision the right goal at the proper time for this program. When the rest of Tiger Nation was positively satisfied in those early years that he was occasionally finding ways to narrow the competitive gap with Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, Pinkel would grumble that moral victories were the unsatisfying meals of losers.
During the unsteady middle years when the program kept taking two steps forward and one maddening step back, and the rest of the world wanted him to waver from his vision, Pinkel never wavered. He had a plan, and he was sticking with it no matter how turbulent the storm of discontent was that swirled around him.
And now that his Tigers are on the cusp of so many wondrous things that only he could see seven years ago, and everyone keeps talking about how Missouri has "arrived" with that stunning No. 1 ranking and BCS legitimacy, Pinkel does what he always does. He reminds his players that they have not arrived anywhere. They're still on the journey, nowhere near the final destination.
Can't wait to hear what Joe Strauss has to say about all this.