at Columbia, Mo. • Sept. 30 • TBA
Head Coach: Gary Pinkel (6th season)
2005 Record: 7-5/4-4 Big 12 North
Series Record: 31-36-3
Missouri…a fan base divided.
One camp of Missouri fans believe that the Tigers are back on track after struggling in football for over 25 years. This group of fans points to Missouri's two bowl games in three years under head coach Gary Pinkel. They also point to improved recruiting in Texas, Florida and the western junior colleges.
The other camp of Tigers fans can appreciate the bowl trips and the additional wins Pinkel's Tigers have generated, but don't believe that Missouri is significantly different than during previous coaching tenures. This group of fans points to watered-down non-conference schedules, a greatly depleted Big 12 North division, and continued difficulties with in-state recruiting. Also, Missouri has lost to Kansas State for the past 14 years, and Kansas for the past three seasons. Losing streaks to those teams used to get Missouri coaches fired, and now Pinkel is up for a contract extension.
It all depends how you look at things.
By all accounts, the 2006 season is a watershed campaign for Pinkel and his staff. Pinkel is now playing with all of his own recruits, has received millions of dollars in capital improvements for the football program, and has been given plenty of leeway to keep his staff intact despite extreme pressure to upgrade several position coaches.
2006 is also the first season Pinkel will have without the most profound offensive player in the history of Missouri Tigers football…Brad Smith. Ironically, several insiders believe that Missouri will actually be better off with a more traditional QB at the helm, such as Chase Daniel. However, it is strained logic at best to imagine how your offense improves by subtracting a player like Smith.
Once again, the Missouri camp is conflicted.
Stars in the making: The Tigers have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but the best of the best starts with their center, Adam Spieker. He doesn't get as much press as he deserves, but he is already one of the best centers to ever play at Missouri, and this is a school that has produced some great ones. The Tigers have the best tight end tandem in the nation in Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman. If used properly, this one-two punch should provide numerous problems for opposing defenses. On defense, Missouri is loaded at defensive end, with three top performers in Brian Smith, Xzavie Jackson, and Styker Sulak.
Colorado Connection: Mizzou freshman receiver Jeremy Maclin played the CU staff just weeks before signing day. After setting up a meeting with Maclin, three Colorado coaches got on a plane and went to his hometown, only to receive a phone call from the prospect after they touched down that Maclin didn't want to see them. All's fair in love and recruiting, huh? — Mark Collins