Even barred from the postseason this year currently, the Mizzou football program continues to trend up.
The team begins the upcoming season Saturday, Aug. 31, on the road at Wyoming, where the black and gold Tigers will get their first look at their new quarterback, formerly of the orange and white Clemson Tigers, in a game that counts.
Kelly Bryant and company continue to make headlines in a season that even without the prospect of an offseason could draw more eyes nationally to Missouri football than the team has had in years.
Bryant, who led Clemson to the College Football Playoffs in the 2017 season before losing to eventual national champion Alabama, has been the focus of media attention lately after Clemson opted not to give him a championship ring after the team won the title this past January.
That’s fair, given that he did not suit up for the team during that season, after which he announced he would transfer to Mizzou.
Bryant, who is a graduate transfer, has already earned the love of the Mizzou faithful by sticking with his decision to come to Columbia and play under Head Coach Barry Odom despite the news of the postseason ban potentially capping the only season he will be eligible to play at Mizzou at 12 games, maybe 13 if the team makes it to the conference championship.
I say potentially because a ruling has not yet been handed down on Mizzou’s appeal of the NCAA’s ban and may not be until weeks into the season.
The NCAA’s decision has drawn plenty of criticism, particularly from this state, as being a first-class example of selective enforcement of the rules.
Consider that multiple athletic programs at Mizzou, a school located in what certain coastal or national media outlets might like to refer to as a “flyover” state, were sanctioned after self-reporting academic violations committed by one tutor. Also consider that the university alleged no foreknowledge of the tutor’s actions and complied with the NCAA’s investigation. Given that the university self-reported the violations, it lends credibility to a lack of foreknowledge when it would have been far easier to just keep it under wraps.
After that, consider that the University of North Carolina, a perennial cash cow for the NCAA during basketball season and March Madness, was under review from the NCAA at the same time for alleged violations that included creating fake courses that never actually met for its athletes to register for in order to give them a controlled grade. Also consider that North Carolina did not self-report its activities and reportedly did not comply with a NCAA investigation.
Then consider that multiple Mizzou programs were hit with postseason bans and seniors from those rosters were given the opportunity to transfer to another program without the usual stipulation that they would have to sit out a year in order to do so. Meanwhile, North Carolina was not sanctioned.
Seems like the definition of selective enforcement, does it not?
Add to that the NCAA Board of Director’s elected this past week not to pursue recommended reform that would allow for more authority to enforce rules against violations such as those alleged at North Carolina, as reported by the Raleigh News & Obeserver’s Dan Kane. Now, it looks even worse.
The NCAA not pursuing more power to wield against athletic programs across the nation? It’s practically unheard of.
Meanwhile, Mizzou officials remain confident in the football team’s prospects to win the SEC East.
With the ban in place during the preseason, even though it could potentially be overturned, Mizzou is already being disqualified in some national polls. Presumably that would change immediately if the ban were to be lifted. However, who knows how that will be looked at by those that have a vote in those polls if the ban were to be lifted several weeks into the season.
If the ban remains in place all season, it would preclude the team’s potential involvement in the conference championship game, if Mizzou were to win the SEC East, in addition to barring the team from competing in a bowl game.
However, the final word on the subject of the sanctions placed on Mizzou won’t be heard until the decision on the appeal is reached. The subject may well be brought up again and again for many years later, at least in this state, if the sanctions are upheld.
We will have to wait and see.
In other news, those attending games at Memorial Stadium will have alcohol back on the menu this season. Starting with the team’s home opener against West Virginia on Sept. 7, beer and wine will be available for purchase inside the stadium for the first time since the team joined the SEC in 2012.
Also, former wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who played for the Tigers in 2007 and 2008, will begin his coaching career this fall at his alma matter, as an assistant coach at Kirkwood.