...that Mizzou fans aren't enjoying this season nearly enough.
Gabe's latest Mailbag over at PM put this into perspective for me. Some example questions: Are we capable of playing well in Lincoln after the '06 debacle? Why is everybody taking a win in Lincoln for granted? Are people going to think we're too soft or too much of a "finesse team" because we fumbled three times last week? Is our D-line good enough? Why aren't we recruiting East St. Louis harder?
First of all, my own answers: yes, show me someone who's actually doing this, who the hell cares, yes, and who the hell says we're not recruiting it hard?
Second of all...
RELAX. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. EVERYBODY. PLEASE. ENJOY THIS BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.
We're one-third of the way into the season. We've only got 9-10 games left to watch Chase Daniel, William Moore, Chase Coffman, maybe Jeremy Maclin, etc., in a Tiger uniform. We've got the nation's best offense, the #1 Heisman candidate, possibly the best WR and TE in Mizzou history, the best kick/punt returner in Mizzou history, a RB putting up numbers very comparable to what Knowshon Moreno is putting up, a great offensive line, the best kicker in Mizzou history, more defensive playmakers than I've ever seen in black & gold, and a defense that, despite its flaws, is ahead of where it was this time last year. If anything, we've been unlucky so far this season. Injuries (Jeremy Maclin, Danario Alexander, Kurtis Gregory, Van Alexander, and William Moore have all missed time to injury already) and bouncing balls (there have been 9 fumbles in Mizzou games this year, and Mizzou's only recovered 2 of them) have not gone our way, and yet we're one of a small handful of teams with a legitimate shot at a national title.
Repeat: Missouri is one of a small handful of teams with a legitimate shot at a national title. And we're worried about whether people will think we're soft, or whether we're recruiting well enough?
I think I've mentioned this already, but a couple weeks ago on Football Outsiders, a Tennessee fan told me that the one thing he regrets most is that he didn't enjoy the Vols' 1996-99 run enough, didn't soak it in as much as he wished he had. Well, we're smack in the middle of something we may never duplicate. We're #1 in total offense, #2 in scoring offense, #3 in passing offense, #4 in passing efficiency, #4 in tackles for loss (without William Moore for 1.5 games, mind you)...we're also Top 20 in sacks and sacks allowed. This is a ridiculously good team. And it won't always be like this (I wish it were, but it probably won't).
Gary Pinkel has built himself one helluva program, and I think we all expect that Mizzou will remain a Top 15-20 team most years. And with some lucky breaks, we could be right back here at some point. But none of it is guaranteed. And while it's second nature for Mizzou fans (and sports fans in general) to trend toward miserable, you'll regret it if you don't enjoy this enough.
Do the math: right now Missouri is the only team in the country to have won 16 games since the start of last season. Think about that. I realize the paranoia that comes with the fact that a) Missouri hasn't won a national title in anything since the '50s, b) Missouri's never won a national title in the two main sports--football and basketball, c) this is our best chance ever to win a national title (unless last year was, anyway), and d) after this season there will be an inevitable rebuilding/retooling/reloading process. There is a fierce urgency in what happens over the next 9 or (hopefully) 10 games. Even if this is the best team Mizzou has ever seen, if we get even more unlucky with injuries or bad bounces, then we won't reach the pinnacle of which we've all dreamed. Trust me, I know this. And I'm going to be eight steps beyond miserable at kickoff of the Nebraska game, the Texas game, the Iowa State game, the Kansas game, possibly all the home games, and hopefully the Big 12 Championship game.
But until then, I'm going to soak it in with every chance I get, and I whole-heartedly encourage you to do the same.