This spring football season for Gary Pinkel and the Missouri Tigers will be a lot different than most over the last few years.
This spring camp will be the first time in several years that the Tigers will enter the March camp without a proven starter at quarterback, Pinkel and his staff has had the luxury over the last three seasons of returning a Chase Daniel to the team in the fall. This won't be the case when the Tigers line up in September against Illinois in the season opener.
Pinkel over the last several years has also been very fortunate to keep his coaching staff virtually intact, something that doesn't happen very often at this level.
Again Missouri will face the spring time with two new faces at the coordinator position. Long time offensive coordinator Dave Christensen got the job as the head coach at Wyoming and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was recently named the linebacker coach of the Cleveland Browns. Longtime quarterback coach David Yost will resume Christensen's duties, while Eberflus' replacement has yet to be named.
InsideMizzou.com got the chance to sit down with Coach Pinkel in an exclusive one on one interview Monday afternoon to discuss these things and many more. We will bring you a four part audio series a long with several stories this week stemming from this interview.
The one thing that was learned Monday was that while many Tiger fans may assume that Blaine Gabbert may be Daniel's heir apparent to the quarterback position, Pinkel and his staff is not taking that approach to spring practice.
"We aren't going to assume anything," Pinkel said Monday. "We will have three young men that will enter the spring on even ground to compete for the starting quarterback position. While Gabbert has an extra year of experience, we expect it to be a battle with the starter perhaps not being named until sometime in the fall."
Pinkel realizes a lot is at stake and a lot is expected from the quarterback position in his offensive system.
"When you have a young man like Chase that has had so many successes over the last few years, then the speculation and expectation of a new quarterback is a lot different," Pinkel explained. "We have been in this situation before; everyone was wringing their hands when Brad Smith graduated and a young man stepped in and took over. We will be fine, we aren't going to change the way we do things."
One thing is for sure, who ever is the starting quarterback when the Tigers line up against Illinois in September will have earned the starting role.
"I learned a long time ago from Don James at Washington, you don't get into believing assumptions," Pinkel said. "We are very fortunate that we have three talented young men competing for the position. We are also very fortunate to have them all three here preparing for spring camp and all will have the same opportunity to earn the position and to learn the offense."
Publisher Note: There will be a four part series of audio of the Gary Pinkel interview done by InsideMizzou on Monday afternoon. We will also be writing some stories such as this one stemming from those interviews. Today's audio of Pinkel will be free, we approach almost every issue of the football program and Coach Pinkel doesn't disappoint with his answers. Stay tuned to InsideMizzou.com for this exclusive interview.