To switch things up, I thought I’d deter from my normal coverage of the college football world as a whole to instead focus on the pain we’ve all felt watching this team play lately.
What We Learned
This Missouri Tiger Football Team Has Given Up
I hate to say it.
I wish I did not have to say it. I hope I’m wrong, and I probably am.
This is an awfully big accusation, but it’s the only reason I can conjure for what we have seen each of the last two weeks. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Go anywhere you can find comments from Mizzou fans.
It’s one thing to lose back-to-back games. It’s another to lose back-to-back games to Vandy and Kentucky. And it’s completely a whole other thing to lose back-to-back games while looking like you don’t want to be in the stadium.
I really can’t explain it.
There’s no need for statistical breakdown or supporting evidence. So much has already been presented, and I trust more what I see with my own two eyes than any numerical proof.
Plus, how do you empirically prove that someone has quit? You don’t. It’s just a gut feeling.
Three weeks ago, I had a good feeling about this team. The Tigers had just walloped Troy, and I spent much of the drive back from Columbia thinking up scenarios in which we would squeak out of the middle part of the schedule largely unscathed, positioned to make a charge for the East.
What a fool I am.
There’s no need to throw any one player under the bus. The blame deserves to be spread thick but also evenly. The defense, perhaps a lot worse off without Cale Garrett, doesn’t have the same swagger – albeit against better competition. The offense, well, we haven’t seen them since the Ole Miss game.
The staff appears to have lost its players. Which is probably the most disheartening and discouraging thought.
Before the season, much like many others, I thought 10 wins were within reach. Now, I think seven is the goal. But how disappointing is that, especially given the position this program was in two weeks ago?
Seven wins is a step back.
We should be talking about a step – if not a leap – forward.
This is year four. Losses will still happen. But they cannot happen in this manner and also mean that something is not amiss.
What We’d Still Like to Know
Has Something Happened Behind the Scenes That We’re Not Being Told?
So, what’s to blame, exactly?
Something internal has to be at play here, right? There’s got to be a catalyst to explain how this team went from potentially blowing out Ole Miss to laying face-down in a ditch.
A college football locker room, if the coaching staff so chooses, can be a pretty air-tight environment, despite today’s disruptive social media ecosystem.
We all remember how impressive it was for that 2013 team to keep Michael Sam’s story on the hush. What if a similar scenario is at play here, but of the nefarious sort?
What is the reason for this horrible slide into oblivion?
This poll is closed
Lack of talent
An unreported incident
Something you can’t explain
It’s obvious that Garrett’s absence has had an impact, but is there something else? Has the NCAA spoken to the university about its final decision on MU’s appeal? Likely not. You would think something like that – regardless of the decision -- would only galvanize a team – not rot it from the inside out.
But, if not that, then what? I have no answers. We can only speculate.
It could be that this team has a leadership problem, something that the 2013 squad certainly did not lack. Is there an insufficient amount of talent? The soft underbelly of the schedule could have been a smoke screen, but I shutter to think about the possibility that Mizzou’s talent level is not on par with that of Vandy or Kentucky.
What happened during that six-day span between the team’s win over Ole Miss and when they boarded the bus for Nashville? It could be nothing. Maybe this team is what it is: not good. Maybe I’m wildly grasping for anything that could explain how this season has gone awry so quickly.
Or, maybe there really is something more to this than playing really bad football.
What We’d Like to Forget
This All Too Familiar Feeling
We probably should not be surprised things have gone down this way. We’ve all been here before.
I tend to be a Mizzou apologist at times, but it’s easier to dull the pain of losing by pretending that you saw it coming. When Mizzou was a leg up on Georgia and Florida two weeks ago, I sort of assumed the worst. But that consisted of getting blown out by both the Bulldogs and Gators.
Now that the worst has played out in much more unexpected fashion, all actually feels right. Like it should have happened this way all along. This will take most of the sting out of what happens the rest of the way.
Being a Mizzou fan is never easy, but it helps when you’ve become conditioned to assume the worst before it even happens.
The last two Saturdays have been dreadful. The bye week – usually the kiss of death for Barry Odom – comes at a perfect time for him, the program, and for us.
I’d hate to waste another weekend watching what I’ve been exposed to the last two weeks.