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Arkansas will serve as my ‘Senior Day’

It’s time to say goodbye, but not before Mizzou finishes out the regular season with a bang.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Florida at Missouri

Writing and talking about Mizzou football has been my labor of love.

I grew up in Kansas City, but I actually did not grow up a Mizzou fan. Truth be told, I was partial to Texas until I was of middle school age. Long story short, my step-dad was a Texas fan, and that was the Vince Young era. I never stood a chance.

Eventually, I started to learn my way. I fell in love with the Tigers’ basketball team first, and eventually Mizzou was ‘my’ school. Nothing has changed in the 20 years since.

Mizzou is where I grew up. I met my then-girlfriend and now-wife in the Pi Kappa Alpha house. We recently had our first child together, a baby boy who goes by the name of Luca.

This brings me to the purpose of this story. This will be my final week covering Mizzou for Rock M Nation. It was a hard decision, but a necessary one. I want baby Luca to grow up watching these games with his dad, not watching his dad write about them. I want to be there for bath night on Sundays instead of podcasting about the game from the previous day. This is all very ‘inside baseball,’ but I wanted to make sure I explained to you why my content will suddenly disappear in the coming days.

My time at Rock M Nation has mirrored that of the 2019 recruiting class.

My first piece came in early August of 2019. It was the beginning of Barry Odom’s fourth (and ultimately, last) year as the Missouri head coach. The first ‘five takeaways’ piece I wrote for the site was recapping the Godawful road loss at Wyoming. It was maybe the worst piece I’ve ever written. Truth be told, I was on a bachelor party at the Lake of the Ozarks while I was watching the game. A beverage or two had been consumed. The entire thing was written on my iPhone in the Notes app. It got the job done. We’ve come a long way since then.

Mizzou won its next five games that season. I wrote a love letter to offensive coordinator Derek Dooley. The Tigers scored a combined 27 points in their next four games.

Game, blouses.

That was, for all intents and purposes, the end of the Odom era. It was made official after the season, but we all saw the writing on the wall. Enough was enough. It was time for something fresh.

Enter Eli Drinkwitz.

I liked the hire. It didn’t come without risks, but it was an inspired choice. One of the biggest questions about Drinkwitz was his ability to recruit. Those questions were quickly answered with his first big recruiting win when 3-star cornerback Ennis Rakestraw chose Missouri over offers from TEXAS AND ALABAMA.

The excitement was palpable.

And then everything shut down. COVID hit. Spring Football was cancelled. The season was played (kinda). Drinkwitz led Mizzou to a huge win against the defending national champion LSU Tigers. The rest of the season... happened.

Drinkwitz maintained an unprecedented level of success on the recruiting trail.

Year two brought along more questions than answers. Drinkwitz made a puzzling hire to bring in Steve Wilks to replace Ryan Walters as the defensive coordinator. Missouri hired a new athletic director in Desiree Reed-Francois. The Tigers’ 2021 season was full of frustrating losses, quarterback questions and the biggest recruiting win yet, Luther Burden III.

Let’s skip forward to today. All of what I’ve mentioned is what the seniors on this roster have lived through. Darius Robinson is the final scholarship player remaining on this team from the 2019 recruiting class I referenced earlier. There’s a reason for that. There has been a lot that’s changed in these past four years.

And we’ve been able to discuss it all — right here — throughout that time. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And to go out while we’ve had the opportunity to watch this team put together a historic season? Man, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

This Mizzou season has served as a great reminder about how much fun college football can be to follow when your favorite team is relevant. It’s not exclusively about the 5-10 programs battling for the current version of the College Football Playoff on an annual basis.

Missouri matters again. This season matters. The emotional investment we’ve all put into this team over the past 12 weeks? That matters.

And so, with that, I want to say thanks. Rock M Nation has given me this platform for four years to spout off about (just about) whatever is on my mind when it comes to Mizzou sports. I hope some of those pieces made you think. Maybe they made you laugh. Maybe they served as nothing more than a nighttime scroll about your favorite team before your head hit the pillow.

Whatever the case, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

I’m going to miss writing and podcasting with Nate Edwards. It’s genuinely been a blast. But it’s time for me to take on new responsibilities — those of a father who needs to make sure his son doesn’t grow up a Texas fan like his dad did. Not in this house.

In this house, we’re Tigers. Forever.