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Mizzou Links, 2-12-14: Michael Sam stories continues, and Tigers look for sweep of Hogs

Michael Sam's father is struggling with the news, Dave Matter wishes he got some more Sam interviews, and Frank Haith previews tomorrow night's Mizzou-Arkansas game.

Bill Carter

1. Sam Watch, Day 4

New York Times: Michael Sam’s Troubled Upbringing in Texas (Campus Union): A conversation with Outsports' Cyd Zeigler about Michael Sam's decision to come out
The Trib: Pinkel says team respected Michael Sam's wishes on coming-out process
The Trib: Missouri basketball players give Michael Sam support
Post-Dispatch: Sam aims toward true mission: NFL job
Post-Dispatch (Dave Matter): Emptying the Notebook: Sam's time has come

(I'm sharing a big chunk of this one because it's great, but there's a lot more, so please click and read the whole thing.)

A few months earlier, I found myself in a bus headed to Joplin, Mo., along with Pinkel and about 30 Mizzou players. We were headed into what looked like a war zone, a neighborhood leveled by the recent tornado. Pinkel and his players were coming to town to clear out a few homes devastated by the storm. I was along to chronicle the day for the Columbia Tribune. By the end of the day — it was oppressively hot — the players were exhausted and ready to head home. I sat in the front of the bus with the few adults on the trip. The players sat in the back rows, most of them sound asleep the entire ride back. Except for one. Sitting across the aisle from me, away from his teammates was Sam, then just a sophomore.

I was reading Jon Krakauer’s "Under the Banner of Heaven." Sam wanted to talk. He asked about the book — it’s about violence in the world of Mormon Fundamentalists — and proceeded to hit me with countless questions about me and my background. "So, are you Mormon?" he asked. "Nope, I just like the author. And it’s an interesting story." I handed it to him for a while.  He read parts of the first chapter. Then we talked for the rest of the trip. Not an interview. Just a conversation — the kind college athletes and 30-something-year-old journalists don’t usually get to share. He told me about Hurricane Ike and how it ravaged parts of his hometown a few years earlier. He told me about his high school. We barely talked football. He asked questions about my job. I came away impressed. Here was a young player, engaging, curious and unusually friendly to a media wretch.

I hoped he’d become more of an impact player so we’d have the chance to interview him once the season began. By his junior year it was obvious Sam didn’t like the spotlight. He didn’t do many interviews in 2012 and then vanished altogether during Monday and postgame media sessions last fall. I was disappointed — not because I had to be the reporter who broke the "I’m gay" story — but I remembered the delightful guy on the bus, a thoughtful kid with lots to say about lots of things. In a word, refreshing.

A handful of folks on Twitter asked me if I was disappointed that Sam’s agents arranged for ESPN and The New York Times to get his announcement story on Sunday — instead of someone who’s covered his entire college career. No sour grapes from me. This was Sam’s story to tell. I only wish he did more interviews during his time at Mizzou — not to announce his sexual preference but to share more conversations like we had on that bus ride.

The Missourian: Michael Sam could be important face in gay community
Fox Sports MW: Michael Sam's agent: Former Tiger 'feels great about' the feedback from fans, teammates
The Maneater: Small-town students stomp big message Thomas Dimitroff: Michael Sam's sexuality won't affect evaluation VIDEO: Missouri Teammate Relieved For Sam

2. A must-win tomorrow night

ONE ON ONE: Frank Haith previews Arkansas game - YouTube

3. Recruiting

KC Star: Recruiting: Mizzou restocks secondary with seven-player haul

PowerMizzou: Missouri after Florida OT

4. "And runs. Team bonding and runs." Mizzou Extra Bases: Team Bonding Key for Tigers in 2014

5. #Stubble

Mizzou Network: EXTRA BASES: 2014 Mizzou Softball Preview


Soccer Alyssa Diggs Selected to Mizzou '39

You Never Forget Your 175th Birthday
Mizzou Network: Mizzou celebrates its 175th birthday

7. Passed along from Bill C's Dad

(Some NSFW language at the beginning.)

Brilliant at Breakfast: Good Times at Pottersville

8. YES

Michael Ruhlman: Egg Pre-Order Available Now