Directly after Missouri’s win against Arkansas, you couldn’t help but feel some sense of optimism for the future of the program. The highly maligned offense we’ve seen all season put up their highest point total in SEC play and it felt like something sustainable may had finally been figured out on that side of the ball. They had just beaten a rival and gotten to a bowl game in a season where you couldn’t help but feel like they had left a lot of meat on the bone, so to speak.
This is a 6-6 football team, yes, but if you watched them over the course of the season, you’d know the difference between this team finishing with 6 wins rather than 9 wins was a razor thin margin. The focus was very much on continuing to move this program to the next stage of its life cycle and developing the offensive firepower they had and turning that into wins.
That was, until this Sunday afternoon bombshell:
While it’s important to note that Lovett hasn’t officially entered the portal and cannot do so until December 5th, this is a devastating turn of events for Missouri football. Your best offensive skill player, who was featured in a sizeable role and produced at a high level in your offense, is choosing to leave that and the comforts of being just two hours away from home in order to go play football at another school that is *probably* in your own conference. That’s quite a kick to the groin.
The Average Fan
I know that everyone is supposed to be in lockstep with players having the autonomy to determine where they play and them using that right to capitalize on their value by earning income, and frankly, they should. They deserve that opportunity.
That being said, I can’t help but think about the average fan and wonder where they fall in this whole process.
Coaches and administration will constantly sell them on the future and what a program could be. They constantly fundraise and solicit donations, all based on the idea of what this theoretical future team could look like. They recruit talented players who begin to show out and because of that, you can’t help but develop this sort of emotional attachment to them because they play for YOUR team. You’re expected to spend money on tickets, gear or even NIL opportunities for players. You spend your time and energy being consumed by results and the day-to-day mechanisms of the team. All for players to make the choice to leave for bigger programs and bigger dollars.
It’s unfortunate, because at a school like Missouri, their only real hope in building sustained success is to find players who are undervalued, bring them to Missouri, and to develop them. That model has worked in the past with Pinkel and now with Drinkwitz that model is absolutely part of the formula he is trying to use. Now, for the second straight offseason, Missouri is poised to lose one of those undervalued players that had become a key building block for the roster.
At the end of the day though, the coaches, the administration and now the players all will get their money. They all eventually win.
When do the fans get to win?