I-I-I-I’m Not Your Stepping Stone by Bob Ryan

The popular song of the Monkees in the 60’s….I-I-I-I’m Not Your Stepping Stone has several applications in the sports world today.

…The Mizzou hire of Eliah Drinkwitz seems to be a terrific hire. He’s young, enthusiastic, looks like he’ll be a good recruiter and implements the “latest” in offensive approaches in the college game. But…Mizzou has to be careful…..will they be his stepping stone?

…Mizzou has struggled in the SEC…the average # of conference wins per season is 5.3 since their entry into the league. That places them 10th overall in the league. The familiar names of Alabama, Tennessee (many glorious years prior to the  70s), Georgia, Florida, LSU, Auburn dot the top the these rankings. Sooo….should Drinkwitz pile up some quick (3 or 4) seasons with 9+ wins, he’ll be a hot, real hot, commodity. I suspect, he’d use that Tiger resume to move onward & upward into a job that pays much more and receives much more attention. Mizzou would his stepping stone.

This really wouldn’t be anything new @ Columbia.  In reverse order….Odom 4 years, Pinkel(the exception in recent decades) – 15 years, Larry Smith-7 years, Bob Stull-5 years, Woody Windenhofer-4 years, Warren Powers-7 years, Al Onofrio-7 years. The acceleration of quicker “returns” expected from new coaches has slimmed that 6-7 year window down to 3-5 years currently. And…..on the other side….younger coaches (like Drinkwitz), currently don’t seem to want to hitch a sizeable part of their career (10+ years) to one school. It’s a delicate balance…..but don’t be surprised if Mizzou is in the “search” again in less than 5 years.

…While researching MU Football Coaches, Don Faurot’s name pops up. He led Mizzou into “the big time” of NCAA Football. He is credited with inventing the split-T formation. After piling up 63 wins in 9 seasons @ Kirksville State and owning a 25-0 record in the last 3 years, he inherited a program that had won 2 games total in 3 years and was badly in debt. He scheduled tough non-league opponents (to encourage fans to attend games to assist in retiring the debt—which he did) and expected his successor Dan Devine to do the same. But…to my surprise….I didn’t realize that Faurot was Head Coach 1935-42.. he  entered the military…after the war, he resumed his Head Coaching duties @ Columbia from 1946-1956. He then remained as Athletic Director and hired Dan Devine.

…Mizzou isn’t alone in this HC turnover…from a survey just a couple years ago, how many FBS schools in the last decade retained Head Football Coaches for 10 years? 14 Coaches….that’s about 11%. SEC schools average 2.5 coaches per a 10 year span according to this survey.

…btw…Mizzou was ranked as the 40th best HC College football position in the country, Drinkwitz comes from Appalacian State which was ranked #98 in the same article. Big Jump for him!!

….but use a team or school as a stepping stone isn’t unique to college football….the “one & done” policy in NCAA basketball has proliferated over the past few decades. It’s really a sham in my eyes…these young men know the rules…they attend classes in 1st semester to stay eligible, then they register but don’t bother much with attending classes in 2nd semester. Why should they?…their million dollar ticket is coming on NBA Draft Day in June. That approach isn’t new….it’s been going on for over 20 years. I’m hoping that this “D” league of the NBA will begin accepting these type of “one & done” players into their league to make the transition easier and better for these future NBA players.

…it’s not exactly “one & done” in the MLB but….after the initial 6 year requirement has been fulfilled, may MLB players use those years as their stepping stone to unbelievable long term, lucrative contracts. Often, it’s with a different team. The list is far too long ..at least for my taste…but recently….close to home—Albert (Cards to Angels), Bryce Harper (To Phils from Wash), Manny Machado (from O’s to SD), David Price (Rays to Boston),Prince Fielder (Brewers to Detroit)…those are just a few that the players used their original team as a stepping stone to the jump to theland of REAL monopoly money.

..seeing it as the final step in the stepping stone process, the Cards seem to be interested in acquiring a left handed hitting OF (namely Nomar Mazara) and/or a left handed starting pitcher. I was very surprised to learn that Mazara is just 24 years old despite having 4 complete years in the MLB. He already has 1,988 official AB. His lifetime average is .261, OPS of .754. The lineup is definitely right-handed heavy but….are we just swapping apples for apples…is he really a difference maker? Meanwhile, the LHP starters on the burner are -Bumgarner, Keuchel, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Bumgarner hasn’t won even 10 games in any of the  last 3 seasons. Keuchel’s 2019 wasn’t impressive. He held a WHIP mark of 1.387 in 2019.Ryu’s numbers were far better than Bums or Keuchel last year. He did win 14 games, ERA-2.32, WHIP-1.007. I don’t have a clue on the money that it’d take to acquire him.. but the best stepping stone for us, from my view, is Ryu.

Outside our stepping stone world…

….maybe I’m just too much of an idealist but….some of these college football players are refusing to play bowl games because of the upcoming draft. This IS old school…but….he signed a contract…the school provides education, housing, medical care, stipends, tutors, etc and he provides his best efforts to compete for the school in all practices and games. Should there be a NCAA regulation that denies any/all of the above when he makes that declaration of skipping the bowl game for private reasons?

…on the other hand, its still very, very enjoyable for me to watch the Army-Navy game. Both teams giving their “ALL” each play, with lots of pomp & history surrounding the game, very, very few penalties, quick moving games (it’s all running plays). It’s clear that the players/coaches realize that football is just a part of their life….not their entire life.

Well…..this blog has been a bit shorter…it’s a stepping stone for me…it leads me directly into tree trimming (We do have a 10 foot tree!!). I’d love to hear your thoughts on any parts of this blog…or any other sports for that matter…post on FB, post on Prepcasts.com or email me.  Thanks!

Comments

  1. Completely agree with you re: Army-Navy. I enjoyed every moment of the game JD

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