As Missouri’s search appeared to descend into near-chaos in the message board world of the Missouri fanbase, the administration in Jesse Hall was calm as could be.
Missouri’s leadership served the University well during this search, with the Board of Curators, Jim Sterk, Chancellor Alexander Cartwright and UM System President Mun Choi unified on their final candidate.
Drinkwitz expressed gratitude for the show of support from the administration, specifically the fact that three members of the Board of Curators traveled to North Carolina to meet him. He joked that Choi “is a hard man to say no to,” and added that he might need to take the president on the road recruiting with him.
The Board of Curators made everything official just after 8 a.m. this morning, with Jon Sundvold celebrating a “unanimous decision.” Drinkwitz inked a contract that will pay him $24 million over six years, with additional incentives that can max out at $850,000 per season.
Just as the excitement was palpable from the fans who had turned out for the event in the Faurot Field South Endzone facility, the smiles on the face of the BOC and university leadership indicated that they too are thrilled about how the coaching search turned out.
Four years after administrative indecision torpedoed the athletic department and the university, unified leadership kept it upright, helping to land Missouri an exciting head football coach.
Recruiting returns to its roots
Drinkwitz will go “wherever the talent is,” he said in his initial answer to questions about his recruiting philosophy. He also emphasized that Missouri will pay attention to the Texas pipeline that helped make it successful under Gary Pinkel.
“There’s been a great foundation and history in Texas, and I think we would be remiss not to continue to establish that line,” Drinkwitz said, adding that Pinkel did a great job in helping to establish the initial pipeline.
Drinkwitz even mentioned Chase Daniel as being one of the top Tigers to come from the Lone Star State.
“Wherever there is a direct flight from Kansas City or St. Louis that has players that fit us and we can get them here, that’s where we are going to go,” he said.
Drinkwitz only had one year to show off his recruiting prowess, but made the most of it. Appalachian State was ranked 101st in the FBS in recruiting for the class of 2019, jumping to 74th for the class of 2020 during Drinkwitz’s year as head coach.
Offensive Philosophy and Background
Drinkwitz stated during his opening remarks that the offense will run up-tempo, featuring a downfield passing game and a downhill running game.
When calling plays at Appalachian State, Drinkwitz guided the Mountaineers to the ninth overall scoring offense in the FBS, a number that will certainly relax Missouri fans that watched the offense struggle mightily over the back half of the season. Drinkwitz said he will call the plays on the Missouri sideline next season, just as he did last season for the Mountaineers.
Drinkwitz said he was initially introduced to the hurry-up, no-huddle offense while working with Gus Malzahn in 2004, back when Malzahn was the head coach of Springdale High School in Arkansas. Drinkwitz also worked with Malzahn at Auburn in 2010 and 2011, and again in 2012 at Arkansas State as the running backs coach and latter, the head coach.
When Malzahn departed to for Auburn to be the head coach in 2013 and Drinkwitz was promoted to co-offensive coordinator, “that’s when my personal growth began,” Drinkwitz said. Bryan Harsin arrived from Texas, and the two were able to blend their offensive identities.
“The philosophy of no-huddle attack with multiple personnel, shifts, motions, and pro-style concepts,” Drinkwitz said. “That’s really where this offense began to take root and became my own, and that’s really where it’s grown from.”
“Coach Malzahn and I actually got together this past summer and talked, and there was some surprise on both sides about how far we had both evolved from those points together, but we still have our foundation,” he added.
Positive Player Reactions
That Drinkwitz won the presser with fans and alumni was certain, be he also had another very important group to make a good impression with: the players that will take the field next season.
Despite it being finals week, receiver Barret Bannister, defensive end Chris Turner, and quarterback Connor Bazelak were in attendance to hear their coach’s remarks. Each player seemed impressed by their new leader, their remarks sprinkled with a desire to learn more about his football philosophy.
“He talked about it with (Bryan) Harsin and Malzahn, just kind of where his offensive ideas came together, and those are two pretty good offensive minds,” Bannister said. “He was talking about pro-style concepts, tempo, it’s what you look for in an offense, especially from a receiver standpoint.”
Connor Bazelak, who had surgery to repair the torn ACL he suffered in the season finale against Arkansas, was initially recruited out of high school by Drinkwitz, then the offensive coordinator at NC State. Bazelak said he expects to be ready to go for next season, eager to work with the offensive mind that identified his talents out of high school.
“I was excited,” Bazelak said. “I think it was helpful that a guy coming in I knew, to be our head coach.”
This was not the first time Bannister, Bazelak and Turner had heard from their new coach. Drinkwitz had the opportunity to meet with the entire team last night, and Turner said he was inspired by the message the the players received.
“Last night he said ‘stop worrying and have some fun,’” Turner said. “A few years ago when I was in high school, I heard a really good d-line coach say that, and I hadn’t heard it since then.”