At some point during Tennessee’s curb-stomping of Missouri on Saturday, I believe I had something of a small brain bleed.
This is evidenced by the fact that I decided to get on Twitter and write a series of five tweets (psychotic) all pertaining to the support (or lack thereof) Mizzou Football receives from its fans. I wouldn’t recommend doing this sort of thing to anyone, and if you or your loved ones exhibits such behavior, please seek help as it may be a sign that the Tweeter is genuinely unwell or may be Terminally Online.
Anyway, I have this space, so I figured I’d expound just slightly on the statements I made that one kind reader suggested were, “dog shit.”
Re #Mizzou and fan support: It’s 100% reasonable that fans don’t want to “support” a team that finishes ~.500 year in and year out. Even if I would choose to do so, I can’t really make a case for it other than, “I like supporting the alma mater and watching football.”— Josh Matejka (@joshmajika) October 2, 2021
It should be noted that the impetus for this irrational behavior was when someone on my feed suggested Eli Drinkwitz was the next Woody Widenhofer. So when I wrote, I was writing to that sort of person, the one who fires off wild takes like that without considering to put on the safety. Just bravely firing off those bullets into the wind and letting them sail off to god knows where. Hell, it inspired five tweets and a blog from me, so good on you, my man. You’re keeping that content mill a-churning!
Anyway, you can read the Tweets. I said what I said, and it was fairly clear. What I did want to address was one argument that came in response to my #taeks: that the fan support argument is a way to deflect criticism of the actual team and give agency to people who have none at all.
First, the question of fan agency in relation to the success of the football team. While I don’t believe that fans are directly responsible for the outcomes their teams produce, I think you’d be at least naive to consider that fans play a role in the performances of teams. Consider 2020, when fans were (generally) disallowed from games — the home field winning percentage dipped to one of its lowest rates in about 15 years according to CBS Sports. Fans showing up and getting loud makes a difference.
Still this is less about Saturday than program-building as a whole. After all, Missouri was going to get boat raced no matter how many people showed up at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. As we’ve discussed on this site and on our podcasts many times, recruiting matters. The years of Gary Pinkel turning two-stars into NFLers gave us starry eyes, but the truth is that team success is driven by a combination of higher caliber talent and the coaching to make it realize its potential.
There’s a reason teams like Arkansas can turn around their fortunes in less than 2 years and teams like Missouri can’t. Since the 2015 season, Arkansas has had one recruiting class rank outside the Top 30 — in 2018, when they ranked 45th. In that time, Arkansas went 26-46 and averaged — ready for this? — 63,951 fans per home game. That’s in the dying years of Bert Beliema and the woeful tenure of Chad Morris. Despite their on-field struggles, the Razorbacks averaged well over 60k in the stands and consistently reeled in classes to stack their depth with top 25 level talent. When recruits pick their school, they want a place where they’ll grow as a player, yes. But most kids that play football still want to have fun doing it. And knowing there will be 60 thousand people cheering you on win or lose is a whole lot more fun than seeing empty chunks of the stadium four games into the season.
To be honest, there are probably a few hundred more words that could be written here, but it’s probably a moot point. Mizzou fans won’t change their attitude toward supporting the home team — it’s part of the baked in culture of the Midwest. That’s nothing to be ashamed about (even though there will still be accusations of “fan-shaming.”) Again, if you don’t want to spend the money to attend football games when the team isn’t very good, that’s your decision and no one can blame you for making it.
But college football is a unique beast, one which requires talented high school athletes to choose your favorite school’s laundry in order to make your favorite school’s football team good. If you’ve even got a sliver of history and prestige to your program’s name (which Mizzou does), you’ve got an in with most of them. If you’ve got a fan base that shows up rain or shine, win or lose, you’ve got a realistic shot at landing a lot of them (especially the local kids.)
For a myriad of reasons, Mizzou doesn’t seem to have the latter, at least not to the level of most other SEC programs. You don’t have to feel bad about it, because you shouldn’t feel bad about sports more than you already (likely) do. But we also shouldn’t pretend that Mizzou’s current level of support is conducive to the type of program Mizzou fans would like to see year-in-and-year-out. Maybe I’m wrong and Drinkwitz will continue recruiting at a high level and fortify a foundational support that appears to be sparse.
I hope I am.
The (Actual) Revue
So like... how much effort do I actually need to put into The (Actual) Revue this week? I mean, I spent a solid hour on these Photoshops. And it feels weird to put more effort into this thing than than the defense did in stopping Tennessee.
Maybe we can just universally accept that there’s nothing redeeming about this game. This game is almost as bad as a clunky, poorly made metaphor for climate change! Every new drive had me saying:
And then every successive offensive drive had me saying:
It was, “What? Nos” all the way down, folx. Don’t watch this game because it stinks. Two thumbs down.
And the M-y Goes To...
You think anyone is getting M-y nominated for this? Like most major awards bodies, the Academy of M-y Arts and Sciences is quite literally a farce, but we do have some pride!