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Drinkwitz Out of Context

The Missouri Head Football coach tried to make sense of a question about sports gambling and got caught in a whirlwind of reaction for a line taken out of context.

NCAA Basketball: Vanderbilt at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

If there ever was a day to take the day off from the internet as a Missouri fan... today might’ve been the day.

The SEC Spring Meetings were taking place in Florida today and up at the mic early was Missouri’s Head Football Coach Eli Drinkwitz. Never known for being shy about sticking his neck out on a controversial topic, Drinkwitz was asked by the pool of reporters about some of the recent gambling storylines which have clipped Iowa State and Alabama in recent weeks. Here was the question:

Reporter: When you see issues with gambling arising, what’s your approach with your team about that issue, is there an element of surprise or is that inevitable?

Drinkwitz provided an answer:

[sigh] Y’all really are trying to get me in trouble here. Uhm... Deion Sanders had a really good quote the other day talking about young men are joining a business, but we want to treat them like kids. We’re giving guys 18, 19... 22 year olds life changing money, people are making more money in NIL than my brother in law, who is a pediatrician, who saves lives and we kinda do it cavalier and we think that there’s not going to be any side effect, there’s not going to be any issues. There’s information out there, there’s bad actors always trying to make a dollar... I think it’s going to become one of the key issues that we face in our locker rooms... I think it’s more prevalent because theirs more money involved. Everyone is trying to make a dollar... These young men are getting a lot of money that is a lot right now, other than trying to hand out advice and provide some parameters to it... you know, with this NIL situation we’ve created our own problems in college sports.

Pretty insightful. He doesn’t really address the gambling directly but he gets there with the amount of money that is flowing around the sport. And he’s right... by ignoring paying players for decades, the NCAA has brought this upon themselves to a large degree.

Further context here is that Coach Drinkwitz has been at the forefront for innovation with NIL opportunities. He’s a BIG big proponent of NIL. Just this month Missouri passed a law that is one of the most progressive in the country for NIL opportunities by allowing high school commitments and signees to profit off of NIL money. Drinkwitz, along with Dennis Gates and the Athletics Department, worked with former Mizzou Offensive Lineman turned State Representative Kurtis Gregory to put this legislation together in hopes of giving in-state kids, and the University, a leg up on the competition.

So knowing all of these things about Drink, why did the above quote set Twitter aflame this morning? Well, because Twitter is a cesspool of reactionary nonsense and not real life at all. And also because’s Ross Dellenger, long considered to be a “good” reporter decided to contextualize the above comment like this:

There were 600+ replies, and over 1300 quote tweets (and growing, people are still responding to the original without context) to this inciteful tweet sans any context.

I saw this tweet first and rolled my eyes. Mostly because I know Drinkwitz well enough at this stage to know there was probably some additional context there. As well as taking the simplest form of the tweet and recognizing the most important thing that there’s no indication he ever said it was wrong. The truth is there are a lot of college football players who are making more money than doctors and pediatricians (one of the lower paid in the medical field).

Ross tweeted the above at 10:23 am Central Time. His follow-up tweet, with context, came at 12:27 pm. 2 hours later on Twitter is the equivalent of a decade. Here’s a short list of people who lined up to dunk on Drinkwitz without context: Bill Barnwell, Nina Turner, Soren Petro, Rex Chapman, Matt Jones (Kentucky Sports Radio), Jim Weber, Spencer Hall, Jane Coaston, Dan Wolken, Mike DeCourcy, Mike Golic Jr, Brian Floyd... ok I’m done scrolling. But it was a lot. A lot.

And none of these people have taken down their original take. A few have followed up with the additional context but... there’s never remorse for just kicking after being nudged.

But perhaps the worst of it was this...

Notice I’m not linking to the original tweet. It doesn’t need more engagement.

We are an SB Nation site, part of a network of blogs that support the mothership. So with that understanding, I have to say I’m embarrassed to be associated with that article at all. It is 100% trash. Even at its most basic understanding within the original out-of-context tweet, Drinkwitz was not blasting NIL. You have to twist yourself into a pretzel to read that into his words. He’s not like... Dabo Swinney or someone like that.

Yes, Drinkwitz is making a lot of money to coach football. Guess what... College Football is big business. Something Drinkwitz alluded to in his original quote. There is a lot of money flowing around College Sports because there is also a lot of money to be made. ESPN alone is paying the SEC in the neighborhood of $300 million per year for the broadcast rights.

Premium players win games and winning games is worth a lot of money. The reason coaches are paid so much is that they are expected to attract the top players and take those players and win games, which helps schools make more money. If you could sell ad time and cable packages around Pediatricians diagnosing sick patients, I’m sure they’d be making a lot more money.

The 11th highest-paid NFL coach at $8.5 million is Doug Pederson at Jacksonville. Pederson won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia in 2017 and was fired after the 2020 season. This past season, Mark Stoops, the head coach at Kentucky, signed an extension that will pay him $8.5 million. Stoops has been at UK for 10 years now and has won 10 games twice, never won the Division, and has been .500 or better in conference play just four times. I think this is what you call “paying a premium.”

Yes, Eli Drinkwitz makes $6 milllion. I’m sure he’d be the first one to say he makes an absurd amount of money. I also know well enough that he’s not going to turn down pay raises just because it’s more than his very well-schooled and respected family member makes as a pediatrician.