So Mizzou indeed lost a commitment last night from linebacker Tobias Little. The timing was interesting, simply considering the worst of last week -- the online threats that made a lot of students afraid to come to class the next day -- took place last Tuesday. Once Mizzou got to Wednesday or Thursday without any decommits for the "safety" reason, I thought maybe that moment had passed. (One recruit eliminated Missouri from consideration at that time, but that was it, at least as far as I had seen; there was quite a bit going on last week, so I could have missed something.) And there haven't been any threats of violence (or any actual violence at all) since.
Alas, sometimes things move more slowly than you expect. And make no mistake: last Tuesday night's threats were really ugly. It makes sense that they would do some damage when it comes to recruiting black players. You just have to hope the heat of the moment cools down. It feels like it already has.
As long as there is no actual violence, I don't figure this gets any worse for Missouri from a recruiting standpoint (or, you know, the standpoint of actual race relations, which matter a hell of a lot more than football recruiting) . There could be other decommits, sure, but as time passes, this probably won't be an ongoing, month-to-month, class-to-class issue. (Then again, as long as there's a relationship between the football team and the protesters, I guess there's always the chance for more story lines.) Still, last week was wild. Plus, before recruiting even matters, we have to find out who Missouri's next coach is going to be.
In one way, I guess Missouri's kind of lucky: this was going to be a small, complementary class, anyway. There were going to be 20 commits at most, probably, and Missouri was involved in few high-profile, down-to-the-wire battles. So if this class suffers, it's not the end of the world because it wasn't going to rank highly anyway.
That said, the 2017 class is huge from a recruiting standpoint. Barring a lot of roster churn, it still won't be very big (in fact, it'll be even smaller), but there is a lot of high-profile local talent -- East St. Louis WR Jeff Thomas, Edwardsville (Ill.) DE A.J. Epenesa, Park Hill DE Chester Graves, recent Mizzou commit DaRon Davis, etc. -- and any damage control (and hiring) will need to have taken effect by the time those classes get rolling. The 2018 class will be Missouri's next huge one from a numbers standpoint, but 2017's got some big fish.
Warning: you will blubber at the 20:18 mark.
His coaching career is nearing a close, but life goes on. Now he has to figure out what comes next.
"I have no plan here. That’s not good, because I have a plan for every day of my life," Pinkel said. "For me, that’s going to be something that I’m going to have to get a plan for what I’m going to do."
When he was younger, Pinkel would watch his high school Coach Dick Fortner and Kent State Coach Don James and marvel at the fact that they got paid for doing what they did.
He followed them into the profession and, for more than 40 years, "never worked a day" in his life.
"It was a shock, to say the least," offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. "It’s not something we as a program saw coming."
Pinkel’s retirement means athletics director Mack Rhoades will soon be hiring a new head coach, which means Pinkel’s assistants could soon be looking for jobs elsewhere. Four of his nine position coaches have been with him since his first season at Mizzou in 2001: quarterbacks coach Andy Hill, tailbacks coach Brian Jones, defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski and cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford.
"One of the most difficult things when you do what I did, you rock the world of all your coaches," Pinkel said. "There was no other way to do it. But I’m very sensitive to that. It’s unfortunate."
More than the wins, the bowl games, the accolades Pinkel collected in his 25 years as a head coach, Pinkel said he will miss the chance to interact with his players every day.
"I always tell recruits that they're a Tiger for life," Pinkel said. "This isn't a four or five-year decision. It's a lifetime decision. I tell recruits and I tell my players, you're going to have my phone number in your phone and I'm gonna have yours forever. You call me anytime you need me for anything. That's certainly what I'll miss the most."
4 days to Tennessee
On how the team was able to make things easier for Drew Lock…
Yeah, a lot of times when you sprint out or the play action pass, you're just kind of here, here, here. You say "Okay, if the safeties roll I'm going to go here and then move back my eyes over there." Situation is less complex. He's a very smart guy, we did some of that too. I think we had some other things that were easier for him to see. I think it's a combination of both. He threw 68% completion. It'd probably, if we caught all the balls, be 72, 73. That's what he's capable of doing, but he got a lot of help. We had guys that made great catches. That's what happens. I always talk to Chase Daniel about Chase Coffman. I always tease, I say Coffman the other day. Chase Daniel, I was telling him "You saved about 50 of his throws by catching with one hand." We forget that. Those guys used to catch everything. I can go through a bunch of receivers. You've got to make plays. There's not magic out there.
On Evan Boehm…
I think it says a lot for him too. A lot of guys would have said "Heck, my foot is bothering me, my ankle, what have you. I can't, I'm not going to do this. I'm going to take a couple of games off. He just wanted to battle through it. That's just the way he is. Came in as a freshman, a rough season that year. He's been in 2 championships, he's gotten a lot better. He was a player that, he came in, he was frustrating to coach a little bit for coach [A.J.} Ricker because he was so used to just pushing people around. When you play big people, big on big, technique is hugely important for the offensive line because it leverages you. It gets a position where you have a chance to be successful with your strength. It took him a while to come around there. Last year he came around really quite a bit. Quite frankly, he played really well the other night too. For all of the Kansas City guys, for all of the players, I talked to some players that were from Atlanta, players from Florida, and they all just talked about how cool it was to play where the Chiefs play in Arrowhead stadium. So, I'm going on a little bit, it is kind of neat to see that.