Following the announcement that Missouri will play Iowa in the Insight Bowl, ShowMeMizzou spoke with some team members. Here is some of what we learned.
Missouri last played Iowa in 1910. Coach Pinkel talked about why he asked Mike Alden to cancel the first two games of the scheduled series against Iowa that he had inherited, when he arrived in 2001. That four-game series was scheduled to begin in 2003, and after Missouri opted out of the first two years, Iowa decided that they didn't want to play the last two years, either.
"When we first got here, we had to adjust our schedule a little bit," explained Coach Pinkel, candidly. "We got them off the schedule, because they're so good. We were building our program, and it just didn't make sense to me to play such a great football program. And, I would say that was an intelligent decision."
Coach Pinkel then joked that if Missouri played every one of the eight states that border Missouri, that "we'd have our own conference".
Coach Pinkel reflected on his team's regular season.
"Just great kids," began Coach Pinkel. "And, great coaching staff, that battled, and really got better as the year went on. I thought we had a lot of talent on our team. And, we have a lot of players that played really well, and that had real good years. That's why we were 10-2. You have to have talent, and you have to play consistently. I think you can always look back, and say well, I wish we'd have done this, and I wish we'd have done that. But, everybody in the country can do that same thing. We had a close team, with a great work ethic, and good leadership. When we hit the adversities in the season, we battled through it, and I'm very proud of them. Certainly, our staff, too."
"It's hard to win 10 games in one season, let alone average 10 wins over four seasons," Coach Pinkel concluded. "My staff and players, I'm very, very proud of them."
The Insight Bowl is a "tier two" bowl, as opposed to the third tier Texas Bowl in which Missouri played a year ago. In addition to the increased payout, which is shared throughout the conference, there is also increased expense reimbursement for the participants, which means that Missouri will be able to travel a much larger group of ancillary staff.
Sidelined senior LB Luke Lambert stopped by to visit for a moment with ShowMeMizzou. He is just becoming accustomed to using crutches, following his knee surgery last week. Lambert confirmed that he does plan to return for a fifth season, and indicated that he expects to be able to participate in spring practice.
"It's more of addressing the team," began Lambert, talking about his role on the team for the Insight Bowl. "You know, this is a business trip. It's not for pleasure...................... Our goal is to go there and win a football game."
"The first couple of days we're there, it's kind of more relaxed," continued Lambert. "But then, you've got to lock it in. You probably want three days before a bowl game. There's so many distractions!"
"It's very important for this program to get this eleventh win," explained Lambert. "Especially coming back after last year. We didn't finish the way we wanted to finish. So, it's still fresh in the guys' minds, that we want to finish the right way this season..................... It sets the tone for the off-season, and for the next year."