Mizzou 25: FINAL FOUR!!!

UPDATE: Called after 108 votes.  Daniel wins, 88%-11%.

We've accomplished something special for Mizzou 25, the tournament to decide the best, most influential, most likable Mizzou athlete of the past 25 years--we've found a way to put the words "Mizzou" and "Final Four" together!!!

Mizzou 25 was been set up in four 8-athlete regions: the Norm Stewart Region (basketball), the Larry Smith Region (football), the Joann Rutherford Region (all sports), and the Harold "Spider" Burke Region (fan favorites).  After 28 matchups, we've got our regional champions: Anthony Peeler, Chase Daniel, Ben Askren, and Pig Brown.  Click here for the bracket and here for previous Mizzou 25 posts/polls.

The bracket was set up before the creative detour.  That's right, I re-seeded!  Since the football and basketball brackets were easily the most popular and highly-debated, I rearranged things so that the champs of those regions didn't have to face each other in the semifinals.  Here are the official Final Four matchups:

3/28: Anthony Peeler vs Ben Askren
3/31: Chase Daniel vs Pig Brown

Who faces Askren in the finals?  You decide!

Chase Daniel vs Pig Brown

vs

2005-08

2006-07

Stats
  1. 347 passing yards, 57 rushing yards, 2 total TDs, 1 season-saving, come-from-behind win
  1. 3527 passing yards, 379 rushing yards, 32 total TDs
  1. 4306 passing yards, 253 rushing yards, 37 total TDs

Record: 27-12
Bowl Wins: 2

Stats
  1. 32 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble
  1. 70 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 2 glorious fumble recoveries, 1 TD

Career Record: 20-7
Bowl Wins: 1

The Boy: Chase Daniel is quite simply the realization of all the hope we’ve ever had for a Mizzou player or a Mizzou team.  We wanted Corby Jones or Brad Smith to get Heisman hype, and Daniel finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2007.  We yearned for Corby’s teams and Brad’s teams to break through that 8-win barrier and put together a memorable season with as few "What If’s" as possible...and under Daniel’s guidance, Mizzou simply went out and won 12 games in 2007, earning its first #1 ranking in 47 years in the process.

We all know the Chase Daniel story by now.  He was raised to play football.  While most kids his age were learning to drive, he was learning the intricacies of the spread offense.  Every time he went to the bathroom in his Southlake home, he was surrounded by inspirational quotes from Vince Lombardi, et al.  He was born for stardom.  And he proved himself a man of his word, staying committed to Mizzou even when Texas came calling.

If Brad Smith saved the Pinkel Era with his performance in the 2005 Independence Bowl, Chase Daniel saved the moment that saved the Pinkel Era.  With Smith strug-a-ling mightily against Iowa State and stinging from a cheap shot, Daniel entered the game with Mizzou down 10.  Two no-huddle drives later, it was tied, and Mizzou won in OT.  They wouldn't have qualified for a bowl without that win.  It was at that moment that people realized, "Hey...I sure am gonna miss Brad Smith, but I think our future's pretty bright."  (That's what I was saying, anyway...ahem.)

There's really no need to rehash much of the last two years, is there?  Almost 8500 total yards and 70 TDs?  20 wins?  A New Year's Day bowl?  A #1 ranking?  The highest expectations ever for a Mizzou team (in 2008)?  You know the story.  You're along for the ride.  This short, squatty gunslinger from Southlake has transformed the Mizzou program, and he's not done yet.
Rptgwb: If you were to build a human out of the 2007 football team, it might look something like this: Chase Daniel was the face, Gary Pinkel the brains, Lorenzo Williams the mouth, William Moore the hands, and Martin Rucker/Chase Coffman the "juevos." But only one player was the heart: Pig Brown.

Our fair Cornelius may have saved Mizzou's season on several occasions before anyone even knew how special of a season it would turn out to be. Against Illinois, his 100+ yard fumble return was a 14-point swing that completely changed the momentum of that game. Later, his interception iced it and gave Mizzou its signature non-conference win.

Once conference play began, Pig was all over the field. Against Nebraska, his thundering (albeit illegal) hit on Maurice Purify helped set the tone in the secondary for the unit to become one of the most punishing in the Big 12. Against Texas Tech, where the physicality of his secondary became VERY apparent, Pig turned the "Air Raid" offense into his personal playground. He finished the day with 14 tackles, 4.5 of them for loss, as well as a pick and two breakups. His injury against Iowa State could have been devastating, but both Pig and the Tigers refused to let "Brian Smith syndrome" kill the momentum they'd built early in the season. His emotional contribution to his team and the program was actually most apparent when Gary Pinkel broke his own rule to allow the injured Pig to travel to road games, helping spur Mizzou to a 55-10 thumping of Colorado in Boulder.

Pig may have only been on the field for eight games in only one year with Mizzou, but for a website that loves stats like "points per play," I'd be hard pressed to find someone with more "contribution to the program per appearance" than Pig Brown.
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