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Missouri isn’t dead yet, just badly hobbled

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It’s OK to feel strongly about the Tigers’ opening loss, but don’t let it color the expectations you had just days ago.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

It feels good to get angry, even though most of you probably won’t admit it.

It feels especially good to get angry about football, a sport whose chief concern is controlled violence. We see strength on the field (and on our screens), and we respond with strong emotion. This is normal, as the synergy between physical strength on the field and emotional strength off of it flows naturally together. Anger also makes us feel vindicated, from those of us who feel the sharp pang of disappointment to the ones who always knew things were going to go belly up from the get go.

Of course, there are moments when anger becomes too strong. I can think of several Mizzou-centric figures on the internet Saturday night screaming into the void about Barry Odom’s lack of coaching ability and the need to fire him immediately following the game.

This writer is in no position to refute everything said on Twitter about the head ball coach, but whoever feels the need to share such a take should realize that Odom, for all his flaws, is going nowhere. When you start a season as a program’s top dog, it often takes quite a bit to unseat you. It may sound shocking to you, but a six-point loss to a Mountain West team on the road doesn’t qualify.

So now that we’ve had a day to express our feelings and get angry at and with each other online, the question emerges: What do we do now?

Before the season started, many of us here at Rock M were high on the Tigers’ chances to win 10 games, and those of us who weren’t settled on nine. Double digits was an ambitious pick, but one the team seemed to have earned. They were captained by the biggest transfer in the land, sported a wealth of returning talent from a pretty good team, and had the narrative wind at their backs.

Now it feels like double digits doesn’t even belong in the discussion. Who cares about a bowl ban now, right? Can’t get into a bowl game if you can’t qualify!

Believe it or not, though, despite how you may feel about Barry Odom, despite that Missouri just lost to another one-dimensional freshman starter, despite the fact that the Tigers show a curious distaste toward generating fan support early in the season, both 9 and 10 win seasons are still on the table! Our tweet from the other night caught some serious flack, but rings disturbingly familiar.

It wasn’t long ago that Missouri endured a similar loss that sent fans spiraling. Cancel the next renovation project! Contact the White House! Raze Faurot Field and salt the ashes!

The Indiana loss, in retrospect, was just a blip on the radar of a very good team. At the time, though, it felt like a big maroon sticky bomb, just like this weekend’s Wyoming game felt like being shot in the face with an old-timey six-shooter.

We have perspective on the former... now what about the latter?

All the things you hoped for this Mizzou season — double-digit wins, a New Year’s Day bowl, revenge on the NCAA for unjust punishment — can all still very much happen. You may not think of that as a rational way of looking at the Wyoming loss, but is it any less rational than thinking Barry Odom should be fired into the sun because of one loss following steady, program-wide progression?

That isn’t to say these things will happen. In fact, they probably won’t. All the advantages the Tigers had going for them — overwhelming fan support, an enticing national narrative, the hype of a new quarterback — have officially been left behind in the Rockies. That’s what happens when you lay an egg in Laramie.

However, we’ve learned over the course of Barry Odom’s short career that his teams respond well to adversity. Well, there doesn’t seem to be a more adverse time to kick that off than right now. Because, despite the reports leaking from the corners of Twitter, the 2019 Missouri Tigers are not yet dead and buried. Badly hobbled? Yes. Pride wounded? Without a doubt.

But the beauty of sports is that you always get another crack at things. For Missouri, they’ve got 11 more games to show that what happened in Wyoming was a fluke and the promise they exuded beforehand was the real deal.

Worst case scenario, we can all just stay mad. And is there a more normal state of being for Mizzou fans than that?