The battle to climb back to the top of the SEC East is a somewhat uphill battle for Missouri. They are in a division that includes a perennial powerhouse in Georgia, two pretend powerhouses in Florida and Tennessee, two middling teams in Kentucky and South Carolina, and the dregs of the conference, Vanderbilt.
In order to get out of that middle tier, and possibly ascend to a level of a Georgia, a few things need to happen.
Missouri will probably never consistently out recruit a Georgia, Florida, or Tennessee. Since 2010, none of these schools have ever finished below the #25th ranked class in the country; in fact, all three schools routinely finish in the top ten in the country. For context, Missouri’s best class in that time frame was ranked at #21. All this means is that they are starting off with a talent disadvantage.
To compete at on a consistent basis, the level of recruiting will have to improve. Since 2010, the average recruiting class at Missouri finishes around #40. That would need to change. To compete with the top of the division, Missouri needs to finish somewhere between 20 and 30. That’s where you see teams with a similar profile to Missouri finish, and also succeed.
Continuity for the middle tier of teams in the SEC is and always has been important.
Can you have the same coach and QB combination for two to three years? Can you have a defensive core that grows up together? Do you have the same offensive and defensive systems that your team has grown up in?
All huge questions for the middle tier of teams, and that includes Missouri. Missouri’s best success has always come with a young quarterback who has taken a few lumps, and went on to be better for it. Kentucky has had their most success when they had a defense that had grown up and gotten their ass kicked together, and got older. When the middle tier teams ascend up, it’s usually because they’re experienced, and have grown men lining up all over the field or there is an entrenched starter at QB.
Missouri has their coach, and they have their young and talented quarterback. Letting their young QB continue to grow for the next three years in what seems to be a really nice offense is a proven way to elevate your team as a whole.
This is the big ticket item. Missouri has to be consistent in all of this. They have to consistently recruit well. They have to consistently keep assistants, and consistently hire new ones as well.
Most important of all, they have to consistently beat the teams that are similar to them or even lower than them. You need to be able to beat the Kentucky’s and South Carolina’s year in and year out. You need to be able to beat Tennessee or Florida in a given year, and you sure as hell cannot lose to Vanderbilt. You just can’t be expected to be taken seriously in the conference and lose to Vanderbilt. A consistent approach to everything they do is the ticket to sustained success in the SEC.
What do you think it would take for Missouri to be a player in the SEC East?
Let me know in the comments.
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