As Pete Scantlebury settles in, I’m getting ready to head out the RMN door. So consider this a valedictory series of sorts. I’ve been in Columbia for just over 20 years and just over 20 football seasons. Time to list some of my favorite things from that time. Today, it’s something pretty obvious: Mizzou quarterbacks.
5. James Franklin (2010-13)
You could make a very good case for Blaine Gabbert, Maty Mauk certainly made the most of his first two seasons on the field, and I’ll always have a soft spot for the 15 or so throws that Kirk Farmer threw between 1999 and 2001 that made us all think, “Damn, I swear that dude has potential.” But James Franklin’s redemption tale — struggling with injuries during a dramatically disappointing 2012 season, then leading Mizzou to the 2013 SEC East title — will always warm my heart a bit.
Frank the Tank is still plugging away in the CFL, completing two-thirds of his passes as a spot starter in Edmonton and Toronto. And he might be the most well-meaning, good-spirited quarterback Mizzou has ever had (or at least, he might be second to Brad Smith in that category). And he will forever have been responsible for one of the most “HOLY CRAP” plays in Mizzou history.
I just giggled watching it, and I’ve watched it 14,000,000 times.
4. Drew Lock (2015-18)
Subject to change, obviously. But the dude who completed 49 percent of his passes for the worst Mizzou offense of our lifetime three years ago, now enters his senior season as a dark-horse Heisman candidate and potential top-10 draft pick. Redemption stories are a shortcut to our heart, and that’s a pretty good one right there. We’ll see how the story ends.
No matter how it ends, though, we’ll always have the long ball.
3. Corby Jones (1995-98)
I had a love-hate relationship of sorts with Jones, the quarterback who led Mizzou’s brief turnaround under Larry Smith and served as the Tigers’ leader in the greatest game I’ve ever seen on Faurot Field (the Flea Kicker, duh). But I also had to kick him off of Stankowski Field during one of his brother’s intramural games because he was being an ass.
(His response: “You can’t kick me off Stankowski Field ... I built Stankowski Field.” No lie.)
Still, the 1997-98 seasons were magical for a fan base that hadn’t experienced anything particularly encouraging for nearly 15 years. And he’s always going to be the first person we think of from those teams. And while he wasn’t that much of a passer, he threw maybe the single best pass I’ve ever seen from a Mizzou QB late in the amazing ‘97 Oklahoma State game.
Not bad considering he probably still had the markings of Andy Katzenmoyer’s face mask on his hand at the time.
So I’ll forgive him.
2. Brad Smith (2002-05)
Not even Chase Daniel had as many great moments and memorable games as Gary Pinkel’s program catalyst. The 2002 Illinois game ... 2002 Oklahoma ... 2003 Nebraska ... 2003 Texas Tech ... 2004 Iowa State ... 2005 Oklahoma State ... 2005 Nebraska ... 2005 South Carolina.
I tried to come up with my favorite play, and it was basically an X-way tie between the go-ahead run against OU in 2002, the last touchdown run against Texas Tech in 2003, the run that set up the game-winning field goal in the 2005 Independence Bowl, and, like, 17 different plays from the 2003 Nebraska game.
Smith wasn’t the greatest Mizzou QB ever, but without him, nothing that happened after him happens. That almost made him No. 1 here. Almost.
1. Chase Daniel (2005-08)
He saved Gary Pinkel’s tenure by leading a comeback win over Iowa State in 2005, he made life somehow better after Brad Smith, he brought Mizzou to No. 1 in the country in 2007, and he threw for 12,515 damn yards and 101 damn touchdowns. I’d love to come up with a more creative answer here. I’d love to make an impassioned case for Farmer or something. But come on. Of course he’s No. 1.