1. Missouri-Arkansas “rivalry” still being dissected
I fell into this trap as much as anyone when I covered the previous six SEC Media Days, but one of the consistent storylines around Missouri’s move to the SEC has been the Tigers’ search for a rival.
At this point, does it really matter? Is it really worth turning over again and again every July and then again leading up to every game with Arkansas?
As long as the 6-1-1 schedule remains — which, as Greg Sankey said on Monday, it will — Missouri is going to play Arkansas every year. Is it a rivalry yet? Do the players think it’s a rivalry?
Does it matter?
The Missouri-Arkansas game will continue to matter beyond most games because, for the foreseeable future, it’s the final game of the regular season. It will matter to Missouri fans if Missouri has something to play for. It will matter to Arkansas fans if Arkansas has something to play for. And if neither team has anything to play for — it’s just another game.
So far, there’s been two Missouri-Arkansas games that have felt like rivalry games. Those would be 2014 — when Missouri needed a win to clinch the SEC East — and 2017, what would be the final game of the Bret Bielema era that produced a wild 48-45 Missouri win.
I wouldn’t include 2015, the final Gary Pinkel game, because that game just felt sad. Even beyond Pinkel’s final game, it was a miserably cold, rainy day and an awful game.
Also, new Arkansas coach Chad Morris wouldn’t take the bait with a rivalry question:
Right now, I would say our biggest rival is the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Now, if you want some REAL rivalry fodder, here you go — via Bennett Durando of the Maneater:
I asked Florida defensive lineman Cece Jefferson what he remembered about #Mizzou last year that made them so tough to defend (Missouri won 45-16).— Bennett Durando (@BennettDurando) July 17, 2018
Bashing their fans wasn’t quite the kind of answer I was expecting, but wow. pic.twitter.com/mRJviphkOk
2. Another consistent Missouri-at-Media Days talking point: T.J. Moe
Fun read by Ben Frederickson with a very tongue-in-cheek look at what Barry Odom SHOULD do on Wednesday, in the vein of T.J. Moe’s romp through Hoover in 2012.
My personal favorite, because Tennessee also faces the media on Wednesday:
Bring out a surprise guest: Coordinators do not come to media days, but a former head coach is always welcome. Tigers OC Derek Dooley would be a hit. The impressively loquacious yet remarkably unsuccessful former Tennessee coach has never called plays, but he is undefeated in press conferences.
WAIT, THAT’S DEREK DOOLEY’S MUSIC!
3. More watch-lists to watch for Drew Lock
Lock named to Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award Watch List.
Our watch list is here! Check out some of the favorites to bring home the nation's oldest and most prestigious college quarterback award in 2018! #DaveyQBs #CFBWatchMe— Davey O'Brien (@daveyobrien) July 17, 2018
- https://t.co/haxEmnCZ8s pic.twitter.com/c4q9s1JpPC
4. Matt Luke and Barry Odom — kind of a similar story
Dave Matter takes a look at the similar recent career path of Ole Miss coach Matt Luke and Barry Odom.
But here’s a very important part that isn’t similar with Odom:
Saddled with another bowl ban for 2018, Luke has ridden the momentum into the offseason, signing the nation’s 27th-ranked recruiting class — ahead of multiple Power 5 programs dealing with far less baggage, like TCU, Kentucky, Louisville, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. For 2019, Ole Miss leads the nation with 24 commitments.
Recruiting rankings aren’t the end all, be all, but they are certainly a strong indicator of future success. Ole Miss isn’t pulling in top-10 classes like it was under Hugh Freeze (maaaaybe not legally, anyway), but Luke is certainly recruiting much, much better than you’d expect for a program mired in sanctions and a bowl ban.
Also related: Barry Odom reads some of the news about him:
Great ideas @Ben_Fred, I appreciate the input...I can’t get the black cape in time with Amazon Prime? Wife picked out my clothes, sorry we didn’t get the memo earlier!— Barry Odom (@Coach_Odom) July 17, 2018
5. Missouri at SEC Media Days Drinking Game
Disclaimer: The staff at Rock M Nation does not condone binge drinking.
I was thinking of what a Missouri-at-Media Days drinking game would look like. Here are some situations off the top of my head. Chime in with some comments about other circumstances that merit a drink:
1 drink — Barry Odom/players asked about rivalries
1 drink — Drew Lock and Heisman contender are mentioned in same question
2 drinks — Kansas/Jeff Long mentioned
2 drinks — Barry Odom asked about suspended players
2 drinks — Barry Odom asked to compare Drew Lock to other past Missouri quarterbacks
3 drinks — Missouri contingent asked about how the program “fits in” with the SEC
What’s a circumstance that will cause you to finish your drink?
Again, the staff at Rock M Nation does not condone binge drinking.