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Rock M Roll Call: 2023-24 Edition

It’s the beginning of a new sports year, Tiger fans, and as such, it’s time for our annual tradition.

In my mind I’d make something cooler, but ya know... I’m busy.

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, track & field and volleyball — are already in full swing. The 2023-24 season comes complete with new head coaches in several sports — welcome to The Zou, Glen Millican (Men’s Golf), Dawn Sullivan (Volleyball) and Kerrick Jackson (Baseball) — too many new assistants to name (T&F alone added like a half-dozen, I swear), and so many new and amazing student-athletes from as far as Berlin, Melbourne, and The Netherlands — Hey, Hilke! Hey, Jack! Welcome, Mara!

It’s going to be a great year for Mizzou Athletics, I just know it. Dancing Mizzou Baby knows it, too. Why else is he so eternally happy? Do you know the story of Mizzou Baby? If not, I welcome you to experience the magic, courtesy of Mr. Jack Peglow.

Since football season again starts on Thursday night this year (the faculty & staff at the University continue to be unamused by this), Rock M’s annual tradition of getting to know one another a little bit better has been moved up a day. In this edition of Roll Call, we’ll again be intro’ing you to the RMN staff, as we’ve made some tweaks again this year.

And, as always, we want to hear from YOU, the commentariat! As Nate said in the 2021 version 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 only one you can still see the comments on is the 2022 post, since the overhauled commenting system wiped out the others. FUN. So these others are basically useless, but here they are, regardless!

2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

  1. How did you find Rock M Nation, and what has made you come back?
  2. What is your connection to the University of Missouri? Alum? Student? Raised as a fan? Mid-MO native? Mizzou hater and chaos agent?
  3. 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?
  4. What is your favorite Mizzou memory of all time? Least favorite?
  5. In what team sport will Mizzou win its next National Championship? How about an individual national champion?
  6. Describe your ideal Mizzou game day. What CoMo hotspots are you hitting? What are you doing?!
  7. 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 2023? Who are your MVPS on offense & defense?

Now, let’s meet the crew that makes Rock M Nation what it is…

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. | @CoachAirDry: 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 area. I have so many favorite Mizzou memories, but my favorite now is Dree Gholston’s buzzer beater against Tennessee earlier this year. My wife and I watched that game from a hospital room as she had given birth to our daughter roughly 12 hours before the game. She is lucky that her first Mizzou experience wasn’t as painful as some of ours were.

Adeen Rao | Columbia, Mo. | @AdeenRao_: Beat Writer, Women’s Hoops & Soccer

I officially became a part of Rock M Nation at the beginning of last year as I was introduced to the blog by Parker Gillam, who is a beat writer here. I am a sophomore at the MU J-School and I moved to Columbia from Houston, TX.

My favorite Mizzou memory has to be the 2007 football game vs kansas. 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 ‘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 is for Mizzou to finish the season 7-5, a slight over the Vegas win total of 6.5. If they get positive returns at quarterback, though, it’s time to dream.

Dan Keegan | Brooklyn, N.Y. | @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 last summer I reached out to Nate & Sam to see if I could contribute some ideas I had kicking around. I published some thoughts on these electronic pages, and then in the offseason Sam offered me a chance to join the staff and write weekly about football. I signed up.

Personal Plug: You can also find me writing about the national CFB scene at The Transfer Portal CFB, and writing about CFB from a betting standpoint at The Action Network.

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.

Jaden Lewis | Columbia, Mo. | @Jaden_Lewis29 : Beat Writer

I’m only 21 years old, but I’ve been here a while. I grew up in Columbia, born and raised. My father graduated from MU, and my uncle, Leo Lewis, played for the Tigers in the ’70s. I have gone to Mizzou basketball and football games for as long as I can consciously remember, so with that being said, choosing to attend Mizzou and study journalism was an easy choice.

I discovered Rock M Nation at I would say about 10 or 11 years old. But I didn’t join until this summer after I got in contact with Sam through (former beat writer) Brandon Haynes, and from there on, I’ve been on here. I could write multiple articles on my favorite Mizzou memory, but to keep it simple, the 2013-14 football seasons and the 2011-12 & 2022-23 basketball seasons remain at the top, As for the worst, probably Norfolk State takes the crown.

Josh Matejka | St. Louis, Mo. | @joshmajika: Deputy Site Manager, Football & 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 Football EIC.

My favorite memory comes not at Faurot, but at Jerry World in Dallas, where I was present to watch the 2014 Cotton Bowl victory. I remember running up and down the aisles screaming and high-fiving after Shane Rays scoop-and-score. It was a nice way to end the season, which also featured my personal low moment as a Mizzou fan... being about 50 yards away from the infamous PUNGGGGGGGG of Andrew Baggett’s missed chip shot against South Carolina.

Karen Steger | Columbia, Mo. | @karensteger: Madame Editor, Olympic Sports Manager, Softball & Gymnastics coverage

On July 28, 2019, I slid into the Rock M DMs to ask about volunteering as an editor on the suggestion by dear friend (and former contributor) Ryan Faller. Sam responded and I became officially official within a few weeks after a brief phone interview. 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 615ish posts, that mainly consist of twice a week links posts and softball content.

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 Davidson, NC townhome and sealed my fate. Currently, I’m a proud J-School staffer (and soon to be adjunct instructor) and even prouder Men’s Hoops & Gymnastics season ticket holder.

My favorite recent Mizzou memory? It’s hard to pick just one. (see: Rock M’my awards)... Winning a tourney game. Joci’s perfect 10 and the Gym win over Auburn. The Bragging Rights beatdown. Krings’ no hitter. The buzzer beaters— OHHHHHH, the buzzer beaters. Least favorite recent memories of the past year? Mizzou Football offered so many— I’d go with the roughing the kicker call AND the Auburn game. Just, as internet cyborg Jon Rothstein says, the epitomy of brutality.

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 my worst Mizzou memory has to be getting blown out in Lawrence in 2021. That time, when my soul left my body it never came back...

Levi Hutmacher | Toledo, Ohio | @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 offer some assistance, and in 2018 I had reached out to Matt and Sam. Shortly after that initial conversation I came onto the team and started to create graphics for the site, and then around late-2020 to early-2021, I took over for Mitch as the podcast producer.

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 with A&M 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 two years ago. 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, Ind. | @MattJHarris85: Basketball Guy, Novelist & 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. (Editor’s note: I added novelist to Matt’s title, IYKYK)

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’d probably get drinks with some configuration of the basketball writers and probably pick up the tab for the undergrads who are of age.

If Mizzou’s going to win a national title in anything, I’d bet on wrestling. Brian Smith’s built a perennial top-10 program, and who knows what can happen with the right lineup over a couple of days.

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. Chances are I’m probably in a booth at the ‘Berg with the family sharing a pitcher of Boulevard Wheat and loaded ‘skins.

Matthew Gustafson | Columbia, Mo. : Beat Writer, Volleyball & TBD

1) When I began to closely follow Mizzou sports, I would always see Rock M Nation pop up as I was looking for Mizzou football news. I read a few articles, got hooked, and have been a more-or-less daily reader ever since, as well as podcast listener. When I got to campus and began to look for ways to get involved, I knew I had to reach out and ask about joining the team. Luckily for me, they said yes, and you’re reading this.

2) I am relatively new to Mizzou fandom as a freshman J-Schooler. Until 4 years ago, I had never even thought of going to Mizzou, and I’d only been in Columbia once when my family stopped for lunch on the way to Kansas City. Then, I decided to go to my high school’s college fair, look around, and maybe get some free pens. I only got one free pen, but I found something way better: Mizzou. I visited once, then again, and again, and fell in love with this university. As Williams Nwaneri said, “I’m 1,000 percent committed.”

4) Given that my Mizzou memory bank is still relatively small, I’m going to say that my favorite memory of all time was the DeAndre Gholston buzzer beater against Tennessee. Thinking about the ending of that game and watching the final seconds still gets me pumped up. As for my least favorite, it’s got to be the Auburn game last year. I’ve learned early on to expect losses in the most unexpected and soul crushing way possible, but I was in shock for about half an hour after the game was over.

7) My heart is screaming at me to predict a 10-win season, but my head knows that 8 wins is much more realistic, and still indicates a very successful year. I believe that the Tigers will find a way to win at least one of the Kansas St., LSU, or Tennessee games. On the other hand, a loss in one of the toss-up games against Kentucky, South Carolina, or Arkansas feels inevitable. Nevertheless, I feel that this will be the breakthrough year we’ve all been anticipating, and sunnier Saturdays are ahead for the Mizzou faithful.

For my offensive MVP, I’m choosing Luther Burden. It seems clear that the coaching staff is expecting great things from him this year, and I’m predicting Luther to make the second-year leap in a big way as he transitions to the slot.

On the other side of the ball, Ty’Ron Hopper is my defensive MVP. A second year in Blake Baker’s system will take him from very good to great, and he could very well make a claim as one of the greatest Tiger linebackers of the 2000’s when all things are said and done.

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 wrestling and Missouri’s program. I have followed Tiger Style for years and wanted to help give the program the recognition it deserves. The Mizzou Wrestling program has been among the top for many years and following the success stories inside the program as well as those behind the scenes has always been my way of showing appreciation to them as well as the sport as a whole.

I have lived in Missouri 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.

4) My favorite Mizzou memory of all time has to be the Mizzou/ku game in 2007. Being at that game was something I will never forget. I still have the paper that reads in big bold letters “NO. 1” with a picture from the game in the KC Star. My least favorite is hearing the ringing of the goal post against South Carolina in 2013. That silence was so eerie.

6) My family has been tailgating in the same spot since the late 70s and so that is my ideal Mizzou Gameday. Get to the lot early, set everything up, and just enjoy the sites and sounds of a Saturday in the Fall. It’s truly the best.

7) My prediction is 8-4. I think there is a strong chance Mizzou is 5-0 with LSU coming into town and selfishly I want to feel that energy so I am willing the strong start into existence then the world is Mizzou’s oyster. Burden is the MVP on Offense and Rakestraw is the MVP on Defense.

Nate Edwards | St. Louis, Mo. | @NateGEdwards: Football Analyst & 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 learned to love analytics thanks to the godfather Bill C and try to bring both my historical experience as a life long fan and a numerical analysis to all football discussions. I’m not sure I can pick a favorite Mizzou moment, but beating Oklahoma in 2010 - and the whole day surrounding that - is way up there.

Parker Gillam | Columbia, Mo. | @gillam_parker: Beat Writer

I’m from Atlanta yet grew up a major Tennessee and Oregon fan (thanks to my UT alum parents for making me suffer through the 2010s). This is my third year working as a beat writer for the football and basketball coverage, and this whole process has been a dream come true for me. Coming from far away, I never thought I’d have an opportunity to cover our major sports so closely, and it is certainly bittersweet to be entering my final year as a student in COMO.

I stumbled across Rock M thanks to Kortay, who was my roommate freshman year and got me interested in the job, so a big thanks to him for that. I was never necessarily a Mizzou fan growing up, but I did certainly cheer for the underdog teams of ‘13 and ‘14 and really enjoyed watching the likes of James Franklin, Russell Hansbrough and Markus Golden go to work. I also have to admit that those 2010s uniforms pulled me in, and I’d love to see some of the alternates from that era return. In terms of my favorite live Mizzou sports memory so far, I’d have to go with the home game against Arkansas in basketball last season. The environment in Mizzou Arena was electric, as you could really feel the animosity towards Eric Musselman and the Razorbacks from the entire fanbase.

Quentin Corpuel | Columbia, Mo. | @quentincorpuel: Staff Writer & Podcaster

Since this is my first year on the staff, I’ll share a little bit about myself. I was born in Los Angeles, raised in Maryland, grew up a Miami (FL) fan (my parents met there) and am now a sophomore at Mizzou. I’ll be freelance writing and podcasting this year, and I’m beyond excited. I get to write and talk about college sports as my job! I think that’s pretty freakin’ cool.

I knew of Rock M before arriving at Mizzou last August; I was (and still am) a frequent SB Nation/Secret Base consumer. But then I met Adeen, Brandon and Parker, who all spoke very highly of the site, so a big thanks goes to them for helping me land here. (Editor’s note: Quentin is leaving out my convo with him in the softball press box about working at the site. Rude.)

My Mizzou memory rolodex is pretty thin at the moment since I didn’t grow up watching them. I’ve been witness to awesome environments in Mizzou Arena, Faurot Field and Hearnes Center, but my favorite moment was actually Kara Daly’s second straight walk-off homer against Arkansas last season. I just sat there in the press box, frozen with a combination of joy and incomprehension. Hopefully, there’ll be more of those moments sometime in the near future.

Ryan Herrera | Chicago, Ill. | @ryan_a_herrera: Former Beat Writer & Slack Lurker (current)

1) 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!

2) 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.

4) First up, my favorite memory is that buzzer beater over Tennessee last year. I was stuck in my room, sick, while watching that game, and I think watching DeAndre Gholston’s shot go in actually cured me. As for least, while every football game with Kentucky seems to end up making me angry, I’ve still never gotten the taste of that walk-off touchdown — after a BS pass interference call was thrown — in 2018 out of my mouth.

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 the hiring 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. Things have changed quite a bit over the last few years, and more changes are on the way. But I think we’re poised to have our biggest and best season yet.

Sammy Stava | St. Louis, Mo. | @StavaonSTL: Staff 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? Being a part of Rock M Nation has been an excellent opportunity and fun experience for me. For football coverage, I’ll be writing AP Top 25 posts, opponent Q&A previews, and any bowl projection updates. I also write the morning links that go out on Thursdays.

Wrestling would be the easy answer for Mizzou’s next team National Championship. But, you know what? I’m going bold here and say that it will be Men’s Hoops. I don’t know what year it will be, but it will be under Dennis Gates. You read it here first. As for an individual championship? Got to go with Keegan O’Toole.

Football Record Prediction: I’ve been on the fence between 7-5 and 8-4 — but this team’s motto this season is “Something to Prove.” This program is poised for a breakthrough season in Year 4 under Drinkwitz with the returning production on defense, the offensive line and quarterback play will be improved just enough with a dangerous WR core. Mizzou will go 8-4 in the regular season AND win a bowl game for the first time since New Year’s Day 2015.

Friends/strangers, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations. Now, share your stories below!