Hi. My name is Quentin Corpuel, I’m 19 years old, and I’m going to share some life advice. After all, with so many eventful years under my belt, I feel as if I’m seasoned enough to dole out some words of wisdom. In my extensive time on Earth, one lesson I’ve learned is this:
People remember how things end.
In psychology, it’s called the recency effect. Within a set of data, the last number in that set is remembered more clearly than the preceding numbers. Similar can be said about events or a period of time; a job interview, a relationship or a sports team’s season all fit into this category. The last thing that happened is an extra prevalent memory; not only that, but endings affect how everything before it is viewed in the future.
Should something end positively, for example, whatever happened before is remembered with extra sunshine and rainbows. Take the quote that’s the title of this column; it’s the last line from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Although bittersweet — Will Smith’s family had sold their SoCal mansion and were moving elsewhere, while Smith was staying behind — it encapsulated Smith’s blossomed relationship with his family that was developed throughout the show’s time on-air. Everything viewers had grown to love about each of the characters was capped off with a scene and line that was happily emblematic of the show’’s central theme.
Conversely, a negative ending can cloud even the most positive memories from a certain period of time. This happens in sports quite frequently; think of any team who had an awesome regular season but failed to win it all. Think of a player who had a decorated career that ended unceremoniously for whatever reason.
Mizzou has certainly experienced this; the 2011-12 men’s basketball squad is a perfect example. They had thrilling wins over Baylor and Kansas, a 27-win regular season and won the Big 12 Championship. But if 100 random college basketball fans were asked what they remembered most about Mizzou that season, the most common answer would likely be Phil Pressey burying his head into his jersey as the Tigers succumbed to the madness against Norfolk State.
Thankfully for Tiger fans, MU has experienced the positive side of the recency effect. The memories of the 2007 season were kept positive in large part because of a 38-7 thrashing of Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Similarly can be said about 2013, when Mizzou took down Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl for their 12th win of a memorable season.
The 2023 team has a golden opportunity to be added to that list.
Sure, the Tigers certainly could’ve achieved more. They made too many self-inflicted mistakes against LSU and Georgia in winnable games, with the latter defeat dashing the dream of a College Football Playoff appearance. But as Rock M legend Brandon Kiley once said, that’s a far-fetched dream only few have achieved. Including this season, just 15 different programs have made the four-team CFP in its 10-year history. Out of the 40 collective appearances, 23 of them have been from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. It’s a land few have set foot on, and the fact that the CFP was within striking distance in the first place was a testament to the progress the Tigers had made.
Mizzou didn’t make a lifetime memory on that Saturday in Athens, but they’ve made countless others along the way. A win over Ohio State has a chance to not only be added to that list, but keep those previous memories positive.
From a narrative standpoint, it’s certainly worse that the Buckeyes will be without a handful of key contributors, most of which entered the transfer portal in recent weeks. A loss won’t completely invalidate the memories made this season, but it’d certainly dampen the near-immaculate vibes surrounding the program. After all, a game like this is supposed to be an encore of sorts, a celebration of a team many have grown to love.
There are a lot of C’s that are going to be remembered from this team. Cook. Cody. Cooper. Cam’Ron. Connor. Carlies. Carnell. Charleston. Chuck. Clarke. The others who wore a “C” on their jersey: Chad Bailey, Javon Foster, Ty’Ron Hopper and Darius Robinson. The coaches: Drinkwitz, Moore, Baker and the several assistants who were integral to the team’s success this season.
Then, there are the moments, some of which will be passed down joyfully to future generations of Mizzou fans. The golden kick against Kansas State. The comeback against Kentucky. The thrashing of Tennessee. The 4th-and-17/Money Mevis combo against Florida. The annihilation of Arkansas.
Finally, the storylines. It’s Cook going from jeered to revered. It’s Schrader’s tumultuous football journey reaching a peak by becoming arguably the best running back in all of Division I. It’s Luther Burden III blossoming and the rest of the pass-catching group becoming a lethal mix of thunderclaps (Wease, Norfleet, Harris) and lightning rods (Cooper, Johnson). It’s the offensive line going from a problem in 2022 to a solution in 2023. It’s the defense stepping up when it mattered most, and the special teams making numerous season-saving plays.
All of it has a chance to be encrusted in metaphorical gold with a win on Friday.
I’m willing to argue that lasting impressions are as important (if not more important) than first impressions, especially regarding the 2023 iteration of Mizzou football. Remember when the Tigers looked far from inspiring against South Dakota and Middle Tennessee State? I’d argue that most people haven’t thought about either of those games since their conclusions. Drinkwitz’s crew has done a complete 180 since then, and the optimism surrounding the near future hasn’t been this palpable in a while.
The cake of the 2023 season has already been made. Now, Mizzou can put a cherry on top that’ll make the memories of this season a little sweeter.