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Mizzou Links: Gary Pinkel in Bristol, and Pinkel Ratings > Rivals Ratings

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Gary Pinkel makes his annual trip to the Bristol Car Wash, and is he making do with less talent, or is he simply better than recruiting services at evaluating it?

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou Tigers pennant What's On

That annual hit, "Gary Went to Connecticut."

Mizzou Tigers pennant It's preview season

PowerMizzou: Opponents with bite: No. 15-11
PowerMizzou: Powered Up: Taking the Blame

The basic storyline among pretty much everyone that pays attention to Missouri is that the Tigers have worse players than everyone else, but they just keep beating all the teams with better players. I know it sounds kind of stupid, but that's the storyline. [...]

Pinkel has never had a top 20 class at Missouri. His 2010 class was 21st. Last year's group was 27th. Since Rivals.com started tracking these things, Pinkel's average recruiting class has ranked 34th in the country. Comparing that to results on the field, the Tigers won 109 games over those same 13 seasons. That ranks tied for 22nd most in the country, and 17th among programs that spent all 13 seasons in a Power Five Conference. If you want to cherry pick a little bit and eliminate Pinkel's early years building the program, the Tigers are tied for 8th in wins (6th among Power Five teams) and 11th in winning percentage since 2007.

We're not breaking any news there. Missouri outperforms its recruiting rankings. We know that. Everybody knows that.

But here's where we diverge: Does it mean that the Tigers have some secret to take bad players and make them decent or good players and make them great? I mean, maybe, but isn't it just as possible that we were flat out wrong a lot?

The Trib (Behind the Stripes): Returning Offensive Production in the SEC: Arkansas is bringing everything back

The two chic picks for surprise team of the SEC are looking pretty good on returning offensive production. Arkansas is returning at least 76 percent of its rushing, passing and receiving yards and touchdowns and 77 percent of its offensive line starts, or nearly four full-year starters. Tennessee is returning less than half of its passing yards -- though starter Joshua Dobbs impressed when pressed into emergency service last year -- a little less than 80 percent of its run production and more than 90 percent of its receiving production. Tennessee's also bringing back 89.2 percent across the line.

Looking at Mississippi State's results, the Bulldogs may be better than people think. At least on offense. They only return four starters, but quarterback Dak Prescott makes up a lot of returning production in passing and rushing and he gets three-fifths of his receiving back. Returning only two starters, basically, across the offensive line could be troubling, but the Bulldogs have more on their plates than I thought, at least.

Mizzou Tigers pennant Demarre

Former MU standout Carroll reaping reward for years of hard work - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: MU Basketball

It’s fitting that Carroll, who plays almost 20 pounds lighter than when he was a power forward at Missouri, would be rewarded largely for embracing the role of defensive stopper.

"That’s what you realize when you get into the NBA. The people who are successful in the NBA are the people who face reality and understand what they need to do, because everybody can’t be the Kobe Bryant or the LeBron James, Kevin Durant," he said. "You’ve got to find your niche and stay in it. I think that was my niche — to go in defensively minded and being able to guard guys 1 through 4."

That doesn’t mean Carroll, big contract or not, is content. He believes there’s still a lot more that he can do as an NBA player.

"I’ve got to still get better at pick-and-rolls," he said. "When I was here at Mizzou, I used to post up a little, so I think I can still post up. I’m getting a step closer to becoming the African-American Kyle Korver, so I think there’s still a lot for me to grow."

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