Greetings, Rock M Nation readers! It’s TIME!
A new year of Mizzou athletics is upon us, and some of our beloved Tiger sports, soccer and volleyball, are already in full-swing. The 2022-23 season comes complete with new head coaches in several sports — welcome to the The Zou, Dennis Gates, Caroline Westrup and Lindsey Anderson — too many new assistants to name, and so many new and amazing student-athlete faces.
It’s going to be great year for Mizzou Athletics; I just know it and Dancing Mizzou Baby (now decidedly NOT a bebe) knows it, too. (Editor’s note: now that I’ve found this GIF and saved its location on my computer, I WILL be using it constantly. Not at all sorry about that one)
Since football season starts on a... gasp... weekday night this year, Rock M’s annual tradition of getting to know one another a little bit better has been moved up a day or two. In this new (and I’d argue improved) edition of Roll Call, we’ll first be intro’ing you to the RMN staff, as we’ve made a lot of changes since just last football season. Beat writers have come and gone, and we’ve added additional support for other Tiger sports (so.much.wrestling!). We’ve still got plenty of holdovers from years past, as well as a handful of former staffers lurking in the shadows of our company Slack channel, just waiting to emerge with their hot taeks at any moment (lookin’ at you, Herrera).
And, as always, we want to hear from YOU, the commentariat! As Nate said last year so eloquently, “Everyone has a story, and we want to hear YOURS...” Unless you’re a staffer, in which case, you’ll need to make it brief. Nobody really wants to hear our stories.
You can check out past Roll Calls here:
Disclaimer: It looks like the lovely new commenting system might have wiped out all comments temporarily, and thus rendered these prior posts completely useless? FUN.
- How did you find Rock M Nation, and what has made you come back?
- What is your connection to the University of Missouri? Alum? Student? Raised as a fan? Mid-MO native? Mizzou hater and chaos agent?
- If you could have drinks with any other RMN commenter and/or staff member, who would it be and why? Bonus points- what are you ordering them?
- What is your favorite Mizzou memory of all time? Least favorite?
- In what team sport will Mizzou win its next National Championship? How about an individual national champion?
- Describe your ideal Mizzou game day. What CoMo hotspots are you hitting? What are you doing?!
- We have a prediction thread already, courtesy of Nate the Great, but go ahead and share it in this thread as well. What is your final record prediction for Mizzou Football in 2022? Who are your MVPS on offense & defense?
Now, let’s meet the crew that makes Rock M Nation what it is. ROCK M, ASSEMBLE.
(side note: If I was a photoshop whiz like Josh, I’d have some sort of disarming Avengers Endgame-style cast pic with our faces plastered on their bodies. I’m Groot)
In about 5k words, the ever-growing staff tell you what they do here, their home base, how long they’ve been a part of the site, where you can find them on the twitters, and answer a couple of the questions above. I’ve told them to try keep it brief, but writers, y’all... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Aaron Dryden, Springfield, MO, (@iAirDry): Football Writer
I joined Rock M Nation as a Football Writer back in the summer of 2020, so this will my be my third season here with the team. I’ve been a lurker on the blog for a long time before that though. Dating back to my high school years, I’ve been a fan of Rock M!
I lived in Columbia for about five years and loved it. However, once I got engaged, my wife and I relocated to the Springfield, MO area. My favorite Mizzou memory would probably have to be that entire 2013 season. There was so much talent, a coaching staff that would have to be classified as “elite” and they handled their business. Just an all-time collection of people.
Adeen Rao, Columbia, MO, (@AdeenRao_): Beat Writer, non-rev sports
I officially became a part of Rock M Nation in the last few weeks as I was introduced to the blog by Parker Gillam, who is a beat writer here. I am a freshman at the MU J-School and I just moved to Columbia from Houston, TX.
My favorite Mizzou memory has to be the 2007 football game vs
Kkansas (editor’s note: we are firmly on team “little k” here). I wasn’t even a Mizzou fan at the time, but that 2007 season was my first as a football fan and I just remember heavily enjoying watching two Cinderella-like teams battle for a national title and thinking the atmosphere at Arrowhead was absolutely incredible.
Brandon Haynes, Columbia, MO, (@BrandonHaynes_): Beat Writer
The one and only Karen Steger introduced me to Rock M during softball coverage last spring while writing for The Maneater. I am a sophomore at Mizzou and I am from just south of St. Louis (Imperial/Arnold), so I grew up a huge Tigers fan. For me, there was no better dream than to attend Mizzou and write about the sports I grew up watching. I started at the site just a few weeks ago after initially seeing a call for applications on Twitter, and I’ll be covering football and men’s hoops, mainly.
Hopping over to football predictions, Mizzou will finish 7-5 with a bowl victory, its first since 2014. Expect an upset revenge victory over either Tennessee or Kentucky coupled with a Kansas State win that showcases an improved run defense. Don’t forget that Arkansas has yet to win in Columbia, too...
Brandon ‘BK’ Kiley, St. Louis, MO, (@BKSportsTalk): Football Writer & Podcaster
I grew up a Mizzou fan in Kansas City, but I became a fan of Rock M during my time in Columbia. I worked at a number of radio stations throughout my time in Columbia, and for some reason both Bill Connelly and Sam Snelling were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedules to join me regularly as guests. A few years passed, I moved to St. Louis, and an opportunity opened up at Rock M. I happily jumped at the chance as a way to stay involved in covering the Tigers on a regular basis.
My time at Mizzou as a student & a member of the local media was a whirlwind. My freshman year was the final season in the Big 12, including the greatest basketball game I’ve ever attended (Mizzou vs kU at Mizzou Arena). My final two years at Mizzou coincided with back-to-back SEC East football titles. My “victory lap” consisted of working at KTGR and covering the football team in 2015. So, yeah, it was eventful.
For some reason, I continue to find the good in Mizzou Athletics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully prepared at all times for a swift kick to the groin. Because MIZZOU, but I tend to have a more positive outlook than my co-host and dear friend, Nate Edwards. My prediction for this football season is the Tigers go over their Vegas win total of 5.5, and they finish the year with a 7-5 record, leaving us with plenty for optimism heading into the offseason.
Dan Keegan, Brooklyn, NY, (@keegsdotcom): Football Contributor
I found Rock M by reading Bill C’s work on Football Outsiders, and then realized he had a pretty cool little setup going over here. I actually wrote and made podcasts for the site during the Odom & MPJ era. Life got in the way for a few years, but I’m back in the blogging game now in 2022, so I reached out to Nate & Sam to see if I could contribute some ideas I had kicking around.
Freshman year, fall 2002, I had just moved across the country and had been dropped off in Hatch Hall. The two guys across the hall seemed like nice dudes and we had been talking a little football, so the three of us decided to drive to St. Louis for the season opener against Illinois. We secured some student tickets, got a carryout pizza, and piled into a little car. Ten hours later, Mizzou was 1-0, the legend of Brad Smith was born, the first lot was cast in the rise of Gary Pinkel’s program, and lifelong friendships were forged.
Jackson Meyer, Columbia, MO, (@JacksonMeyer21): Football Contributor
I joined the team only a few weeks ago, after seeing that applications were being accepted. My first post was 8/20/22, where I had the opportunity to give my outlook on the Tigers secondary. I currently attend MACC and once I am done, I plan on transferring over to Missouri’s J-School.
I’m a fairly pessimistic guy, but for some odd reason, I have a good feeling about this Tiger football team. There are plenty of returning pieces, plus tons of transfer portal additions that addressed just about every hole on the roster. Brady Cook will surprise people and Missouri will finish with a record of 8-4. MIZ!
James Hackney, Columbia, MO, (@FFJames94): Wrestling Writer
I reached out over an email last season after starting a wrestling blog and got brought on, with my first post being a dual preview on January 20, 2022. I was a Mizzou undergrad alum, and I’m now back getting my doctorate in physical therapy.
My prediction is that Mizzou Wrestling will be the first team to win a title. They came close in 2015 when they were ranked #1, but finished 4th at the tournament. Keegan O’Toole won an individual title last season, and appears to be the favorite to do so again. Keep a close eye on the team the next few years as they are building towards another special season.
Josh Matejka, St. Louis, MO, (@joshmajika): Deputy Site Manager & Social Editor
I started reading Rock M at some point within my sophomore year of undergrad. Soon after, Bill C. posted a staff opening for something called the “Columbia Editor,” for which I sent an application in. I didn’t get the role, but Bill offered to bring me on as a student freelancer, a role which developed into a jack-of-all-trades position and, eventually, my current role as the site’s Deputy Manager and Social Editor.
It’s been a minute since I’ve been to a game day — a few years of living on the east coast make it impossible, after all — but I’m already planning my trip back. It’ll probably start with a trip to Ernie’s (side note: I like Cafe Berlin, but it’s a bit too busy in the fall), a stop by Coffee Zone for some extra rocket fuel followed by some putzing around downtown. I’m probably hitting up any one of CJs/Heidelberg/Pizza Tree for lunch followed by some beers at Logboat and a post-game trip to Addison’s for beer and nachos. This is all assuming we’re playing an evening game, of course.
Karen Steger, Columbia, MO, (@karensteger): Madame Editor, Links & Softball Writer
On July 28, 2019, I slid into the Rock M DMs to ask about volunteering as an editor on the suggestion by dear friend Ryan Faller. Sam responded and I became officially official within a few weeks. Labor Day weekend 2019, my volunteer title was removed, and my very first RMN piece of writing was a links post on Sept 13, 2019. Since then I have written and/or participated in [does math] approximately 450 posts. Damnnnn...
I’ve been a Mizzou fan as long as I can remember, having grown up in StL, and my mom and I are alums (my dad, a UCM Mule, just wishes he was). I moved back to CoMo in July 2011 because I missed it— an Inside Columbia magazine titled “There’s no place like CoMo” arrived to my Charlotte area townhouse and sealed my fate. Currently, I’m a proud J-School employee... and even prouder MBB season ticket holder.
My favorite recent Mizzou memory is the Women’s Hoops 70-69 OT win over South Carolina on 12/30. I screamed so much I literally lost my voice. It was amazing. Pretty close to that is the Hat(ti) Trick softball game vs Texas A&M on 4/29. Epic. Least favorite recent memory, though one could argue deserved? Zo’s firing. [sad face]
Kortay Vincent, Columbia, MO, (@KortayVincent): Baseball Contributor, Former Beat Writer
Before my freshman year at Mizzou, I saw a tweet from Rock M seeking new Mizzou athletics beat writers, and I shot Sam an email about my interest. After providing him with a sample of my writing, he offered me one of the positions, and without hesitation, I said yes. At the time, I knew nothing about what it meant to be a beat writer and cover an entire athletic department, but in the last two years I’ve gained an invaluable experience covering football, basketball, and baseball. Sadly, this year I am taking a step back and only covering baseball because of my decision to shift my focus to Law School.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been a Mizzou fan for very long. I grew up a die-hard Oklahoma State fan because both of my siblings went there, and I will even admit that my mother went to kU. But nevertheless, I came to my senses when I decided to attend Mizzou, and I haven’t regretted it one second.
My favorite recent Mizzou memory is definitely the 2020 football win over Arkansas. My soul left my body when Arkansas converted the 2-point play, but I had to resist every urge to scream when Baze and Mevis still ended up getting done. Easily the worst recent Mizzou memory has to be getting blown out in Lawrence last year. That time, when my soul left my body it never came back...
kristina, St. Louis, MO: Moderator
I lurked on RMN for quite a long while before actually joining in on the fun. Bill C. had a way with words after horrible Mizzou losses, so it was basically the only site I’d visit after those occurred,,, rarely, right? And after a while of me being a very chatty commentator, the higher ups asked if I’d moderate and occasionally help out with the links and certain posts if no one else was up to it (i.e. Secret Santa exchanges and bowl pick ‘ems)
I can’t pick one absolute favorite Mizzou memory due to nostalgia purposes, but staying up to watch the 1993 triple OT Braggin’ Rights game has to rank up there. I have always been a Braggin’ Rights fan, but that one was just insanely fun. You know, back in the day watching it on a twelve-inch screen television and actually having to watch every gut-wrenching minute and do-or-die free throw because you couldn’t hide and hope twitter would have a positive update a few minutes later. One of my worst Mizzou memories is that game the same year Lehigh beat Duke. (Editor’s note: you know the one. It doesn’t need to be mentioned by name). Sorry to dredge up that memory, but bright side, at least it was 7 years ago?
Lauren Rosenberg, Houston, TX, (@lrosenberg101): Women’s Basketball Writer
In October 2021, I sent a twitter DM to Madame Editor (aka Karen) asking if there was an opening for a women’s hoops writer. I am a firm advocate for women’s sports coverage, especially basketball, and a site like Rock M should always embody all sports, regardless of gender. A day later I was brought on board and got to work. My first article was the 2021-2022 roster preview.
When I was looking at colleges back in high school, I went to find any and every sports writing site I could find to get more immersed in college sports. The first one I found was Rock M Nation, around 2014. I’ve read all their posts since then.
My favorite memories were when Mizzou defeated South Carolina in 2017 on a Sophie Cunningham game winning layup and this past win on December 30th against South Carolina that I covered from afar. My least favorite would be when Mizzou lost to Iowa in the 2019 NCAA WBB Tournament.
Levi Hutmacher, Toledo, OH, (@levihutmacher): Digital Media Producer
What brought me to following Rock M was the honesty they shared and the fairness in reporting. I know we get a lot of flack for some of the takes and stories that come out, but I do think they are fair and give a realistic look at each Mizzou team. As I continued to read the site, I felt like I could help the site out and use some of my creative skills. So, back in 2018 I had reached out to Matt and Sam about doing either video, photography, or graphics for the site. Shortly after that initial conversation I came on the team and started to create graphics for the site. Shortly after, around late-2020 to early-2021, I took over for Mitch as the podcast producer.
So since I am living around Toledo, why not tell you how I am connected to Mizzou. It’s fairly simple, though. My parents met and married in CoMo, and I was born in Columbia. Lived there for three years before moving to St. Joe until we relocated to Northwest Ohio for my dad’s work. I have a deep connection to Mizzou athletics as my dad’s best friend back in college was Steve Stipanovich. Our family still keeps in contact with theirs and that relationship kicked off my obsession with Mizzou from a young age! Still have my childhood drawings of Wes Stokes somewhere at my parents’ house.
The memory that still sticks into my brain is probably the first buzzer beater I watched when my dad let me stay up late. It was Wes Stokes against SLU. He was only at Mizzou for a short time, but I loved his hustle and style of play. The second option here would have to be going to my first Mizzou game in CoMo when Johnny Football came to town in 2013 and Mizzou clinched the SEC East. I was a newlywed so my wife came along, as well as my parents, and we rushed the field and gave fellow Northwest Ohioan Maty Mauk a big hug (lol).
Matt Watkins, St. Louis, MO, (@DataMizzou): Men’s Basketball Writer, Analytics Ideologue
I would say it’s more accurate that Rock M found me. Captain Snelling tracked me down over the course of several years and various platforms, when he finally landed his white whale last fall. I began in my official capacity as a basketball commentator on Halloween of 2021. A fairly predictive omen, I must admit.
The word to describe my roots with the University of Missouri would be: Deep. I was raised on the latter years of Norm Stewart’s run in Columbia. After a year in exile as a college freshman, I returned to finish my undergrad degree at Mizzou and followed it up with three additional years at Hulston High (the law school). Although I’m unable to make it to as many Mizzou contests as I once did, the Stockholm Syndrome continues.
Matt Harris, Indianapolis, IN. (@MattJHarris85): Basketball Guy & Podcaster
Sam Snelling plucked me from obscurity several years ago, because the world needed lengthy posts and a podcast on a middle-class hoops program.
I’m a townie, Kewpie, and third-generation Mizzou alum. Did some newspapering in a past life. Now, I help fundraise for a medical school. Favorite memory? I don’t really have one. For nostalgia’s sake, I’ll go with the first time I sat with my dad in the Hearnes nosebleeds: a 23-point win over Jackson State in 1992.
I’ll leave the football predictions to others. And when I come home, you can usually find me working the circuit of Ernie’s (RIP Ron’s Country Boy), G&D, Sub Shop, CJ’s, or Heidelberg. (Editor’s note: I say this with love in my heart, but this is definitely the shortest piece of writing in Matt Harris’ RMN life)
Matthew Smith, Marceline, MO, (@Matthew_Smith10): Wrestling Writer
I was welcomed to the Rock M team in March of 2022 when I reached out via email to offer my knowledge of the sport and program at Missouri. I have followed Tiger Style Wrestling for years and wanted to help give the program the recognition it deserves.
I have been a Missouri native my whole life and was born into wrestling. While I took the time to try out basketball one year, it was one night at a kids practice (when I was 10) I went to with my brother and ended up winning king of the mat. I had then realized that wrestling was my sport. Since then wrestling has always been a big part of my life.
Mitch Hill, Columbia, MO, (@Mhill_): Former Podcast Producer, Slack Lurker (current)
I’m a third generation alum at Mizzou. So it was the only school I applied to besides Hawaii (because why not). Safe to say I was raised as a fan and really it’s the only school I care about. I spent almost four years at Rock M, if my brain is remembering right. I got to Rock M because Bill C posted about the site looking for a podcast producer/editor and I applied. And Bam! Pods started flowin’.
If I could pick one staffer to have drinks with, it’d probably be Nate. I feel like he has some excellent Dad corner stories and those could entertain me for a few hours + talking Mizzou and what not. I would probably order him Popeye’s instead of a drink if we are being honest. (Editor’s note: If you never read the aforementioned Popeye’s post, it’s EPIC)
Football Predications: [Puts on Clown Mask] As someone who likes Mizzou Over 5.5 wins, I am going to keep that optimism. Let’s say 7-5. MVPs: Brady Cook and Martez Manuel.
Nate Edwards, St. Louis, MO, (@NateGEdwards): Football Editor & Podcaster
My first post was on August 8th, 2019, in which I said playing Wyoming was a bad idea and it would not be a fun game...and it’s been all butterflies and rainbows since then.
I was born in Columbia and my grandfather was both a professor at Mizzou and a referee for Big 8 football and basketball games, so I really had no choice but to be a Tiger fan. I’m not sure I can pick a favorite Mizzou moment, but beating Oklahoma in 2010 is way up there.
Parker Gillam, Columbia, MO, (@gillam_parker): Beat Writer
I’m from Atlanta, and grew up a major Tennessee and Oregon fan (thanks to my UT parents for making me suffer through that). This is my second year working as a beat writer for the football and basketball coverage, and this whole process has been a dream for me. Coming from far away, I never really thought I’d have an opportunity to cover our major sports so closely.
I stumbled across Rock M thanks to Kortay, who was my roommate freshman year and got me interested in the job, so again a big thanks to him for that. In terms of my favorite Mizzou sports memory so far, I would have to go with the Auburn basketball game from last season, even though it was a loss. The atmosphere at Mizzou Arena for such a close game really showed me how passionate and energized this fanbase can be, and it gets me hyped to see what the turnout will be when both football and basketball are improved this season.
Ryan Faller, St. Louis, MO (@ryedog001): Football Contributor (currently on hiatus)
I’ve been lurking in the shadows of the Rock M Nation annals for a few years now, more specifically since 2019, when I was graciously given some page space to write a number of things, from recaps of the week that was in the SEC, as well as the rest of college football, to conference power rankings.
The fandom here runs deep, starting in early childhood, but it was accelerated by my days as a student during the Kirk Farmer era. I was even lucky enough to have served some first-year head coach named Gary Pinkel a cranberry scone at Panera Bread on 9th Street. (RIP to that amazing locale)
In the full spirit of prognostication season, here goes: This Tigers team is still a year or two — and another pair of Top 20 recruiting classes — away from posing any kind of real threat to Georgia. We all know this. What’s exciting about 2022, though, is that we could potentially see glimpses of what that future would look like. My gut says the absolute ceiling for the season is 8 wins, but nine is certainly a possibility if things fall right for a roster that features an intriguing mix of unproven yet skilled youth and portal, grown-man experience.
Ryan Herrera, Chicago, IL, (@ryan_a_herrera): Former Beat Writer & Slack Lurker (current)
I found Rock M through another former beat writer for the site, Tashan Reed. He was covering both the men’s and women’s basketball teams in the spring of 2018, got me connected with the old head honcho Bill C., and voila, I was covering the Mizzou baseball team. After that I covered the football team during the 2018 season and then added men’s basketball onto my plate the next year. I’ve graduated and moved onto other things, but of course, I always check in to see what my friends at Rock M are up to!
My connection to the school is I’m a proud J-School alum (and a College of Ed alum, too, but who knows when I’ll use that degree). And as an alum, I’m always here rooting for the Tigers and then mourning when something terrible inevitably happens.
If I could have drinks with anyone on the staff, it would be with any of the current beat writers/campus correspondents. No offense to anyone else — I just think they’d end up taking me to Willie’s... and I really, really miss Willie’s :(
Sam Snelling, St. Louis, MO, (@SamTSnelling): Site Manager, Podcaster & Basketball Aficionado
Not sure how much here is needed, as long time readers of the site certainly know the story. But I’ve been writing here since 2014, and after plenty of debates over whether the hire of Kim Anderson, FullbackU (Oscar Gambler) asked if I would be interested in writing about basketball. It’s been downhill ever since. I say that in jest, mostly.
A few years ago Bill needed to step down and he brought in Pete Scantlebury. We ran the site together for a year, but couldn’t keep it up as he was taking on new responsibilities with a new job, and suddenly it was mine to run. Both Bill and Pete had done enough to set me up for success, so I just try to not steer the ship into the iceberg. I really like our team, and think we’re poised for our best year yet.
Sammy Stava, St. Louis, MO, (@StavaonSTL): Football & Links Writer
I started at Rock M Nation back in July of 2019. I saw on Twitter they were hiring student beat writers, and while I wasn’t a student at that time, I figured I’d contact Sam to see if there was another opportunity for me, because why the heck not? For football coverage, I’ll be writing AP Top 25 posts, opponent Q&A previews, and any bowl projection updates. On the basketball side of things, if Mizzou is in the mix for a tourney bid — you’ll see me doing Rock M Tology. In between, I write the Thursday links.
I’d say my favorite Mizzou memory would have to be attending the 2013 SEC East clincher against Texas A&M and reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Just a lot of special moments from that game. The game-winning Josey touchdown run and fans rushing the field after the game on a Saturday night primetime game with Herbstreit and Musberger on the call. It was just an awesome atmosphere in COMO that Saturday. My least favorite memory would have to be the day of the expected but official Michael Porter Jr. injury news. That was a gut punch, man — 100 percent ruined my day. We’ll just never know what that season could have been if he was fully healthy.
Maybe this means I’m on this optimistic front but I’ll go with a 7-5 prediction for Mizzou this season. They get the four must-wins over Louisiana Tech, Abilene Christian, New Mexico State, and Vandy — plus victories over Auburn, South Carolina and Kentucky (their biggest upset of the season). Luther Burden on offense and Martez Manuel on defense are your MVPs of the team.