Walking Around the ZOU by Bob Ryan

mizzou imageIt was a gorgeous fall day….perfect to walk around enjoying the sun, breeze, and the Zou. This particular Zou had only Tigers. It had been awhile since I had visited the Zou. As all Zou’s the exposure, general environment, feelings about the Zou had been changing over the years. Let’s a deep walk in and around the Zou……

 Things always change…but the changes were different back then…I mean years ago a young coach & Mizzou grad, named Don Faurot, returned to the Zou after coaching at Truman State (called Kirksville State Teaching College at that time). When he returned to the Zou in 1935, they’d won 2 games the previous year and were $500,000 in debt. He was one of the pioneers of the development of the split-T formation which he began using in 1941. His 1941 team went 8-2and beat Fordham in a pouring rain 2-0 in the Sugar Bowl. The 1942 team went 8-3-1….then war game in and Faurot went out…he went to the Navy.. btw…he worked on that debt by playing Ohio State (9 of his first 11 years)…u see the Buckeyes ALWAYS did bring large crowds…he was willing to lose to Ohio State (as he did every time) to help pay off the $500, 000. Faurot returned to his coaching position in 1946 at the Zou….he remained through the 1956 season as head coach but remained as Director of Athletics. He remained in that position to 1967. It was for Mizzou that he worked his entire life as he, until he died, made almost daily trips to “the office” to see how he could improve the Zou. It was a real love for the school that drove him.

 Changes came… and went… as Frank Broyles (1 year) and Dan Devine established very strong programs….Devine used a bit …but not much …. National recruiting…it was still thought that it was a “privilege” of sort to represent the Black & Gold. Defensive-guru Al Onofrio followed Devine and then a bevy of coaches like Warren Powers, Woody Widenhofer, Bob Stull, Larry Smith and the Gary Pinkel. Over time …the Zou …like all colleges changed…maybe it was the Vietnam War…maybe the change in our overall society…maybe the Greatest generation passed on…who knows…maybe all of them…anyway by the time Pinkel arrived in Columbia….the fans were desperate.

 Pinkel went 22-23 in his first four years…some coaches may have received their walking papers at that point…but…coach P now has gone to 9 bowls in the last 10 years …keep in mind…to enter a bowl now your record has to be a whopping .500…..ooooohhh…and there are now 41 bowls with 2/3 of the FBS teams qualifying…not like in the 40’s and 50’s. Pinkel now has the most wins of any Mizzou coach …keep in mind that for many decades.. teams played only 10 games…there weren’t any conference championship games or a final four and bowls were very difficult to reach so…the short of it …teams DO play many more games now than previously so they SHOULD win more games.

 In recent years, things seemed to have really changed….the atmosphere, the tone, the feeling as one enters the Zou…..the hoping to win attitude has been supplanted by “we will win and must win” feeling…. despite never winning the Big 12 championship football prices zoomed (as they did across the nation)…Mizzou sensed the opportunity to jump to the “Big Money Love-Boat” of the SEC….Self-proclaimed as the best conference …how do we know?…they won’t play any “tough” non-conference teams until bowl season (they were below .500 as a conference last year in the bowls)….btw…the last conference championship for Mizzou was 1969 (Dan Devine era—a long while ago)… stadium size was again pushed up another 10,000 recently…all this led to this uneasy feeling …at least for some….and… having the most pro-prospects from a conference doesn’t guarantee that they are the best teams…

 This high pressure from…. highly elevated expectations, donors lining up to “contribute” to the cause early and often and expecting a “return”, the huge TV money, huge money from the SEC, limiting fans/writers from Tuesday practices, the constant year-long up-tick about the SEC may have changed the Zou…and one wonders has the rewards for individuals (coaches in terms of money & players in terms of the college “extras” and pro expectations) made this Zou feel differently? Is it the school or the individual that pops into mind for these Tigers? Is every college now this way? Or…just the “big time” schools? Clearly college itself is different than past decades so maybe every campus has this different feel…

 now….as 2015 season opens these Tigers in the Zou expect to roll over the first 3 opponents yet these Tigers in the Zou win those 3 games uncomfortably close …then the stunning loss to Kentucky (considered by most as a lower echelon SEC team)… the win over a so-so S.Carolina team….so why the instant struggle?

 Some injuries to key personnel and some poor play by others who were promoted to starting roles for the 1st time ….shallow in depth at running back (that’s inexcusable Coach P—to have only 1 adequate running back..come on-that’s poor recruiting!) and performing poorly (Ish Witter is tied for #18 in the SEC in rushing yards) … an offensive line that hasn’t punched holes in the opponents defense and worse of all…a QB controversy…returning starter Maty Mauk has played at a lower level than last year (Mauk was #10 in Passing yards, #13 in QB rating and #13 in completion % in the SEC through the first 4 games this year)..Maybe last year it WAS those talented SR receivers …. And Drew Lock…who was being promoted as the next Andrew Luck…tall, powerful arm, proper training, son of a former Mizzou player…yada, yada, yada…he was the complete package….

 ……this week Mauk returns from a trip to visit his Dad (who’s undergoing colon cancer procedure)…and something happens…apparently for the 3rd time…when Coach Pinkel says “He wasn’t arrested”…it makes this guy think it was illegal but he wasn’t caught..anyway… now he’s exiled for 1 game…but I’m guessing …it’ll be much longer…. so….my prediction is that Mauk will leave Mizzou at end of 2015…or sooner…anyway..this high pressure is ready to burst as we walk around the Zou—could this be a sub .500 season? Do SEC teams ever fall below .500? ……but…on the other hand…win 3 more games and you’re in a Bowl.. and Maty Mauk will be like leftovers …thrown out and forgotton by the next day.. Meanwhile …the “program” looks fine to many at the Zou….but it still feels different to me


Wrapping up regular season baseball….

Some players who had terrific years but won’t see post-season action …

….Miguel Cabrera-Detroit (injured part of the year) hit .334 with an OPS of .963 for the season for the soon to be re-tooled Tigers

….23 year old SS, Xander Bogaerts (Boston) hit .322 in over 600 AB for the lowly BoSox

…Paul Goldschmidt (AZ) …who may be the best hitter in the MLB…hit 31 round trippers, 107 RBI’s, banged out 38 doubles, hit .317 with a .991 OPS….Arizona has Goldschmidt, Pollock, Inciarte and Peralta in the middle of a lineup that should be productive next year.

…while the Cubs have produced several good young players…they missed on 2B DJ LeMahieu…they traded LeMahieu & RF Tyler Colvin to Colorado for RHP Casey Weathers & 3B Ian Stewart in 2011… LeMahieu hit .302 while playing 149 games for the 2nd consecutive year…just in case ur wondering—through Thursday’s games ….the Cards had Heyward and Matt Carpenter play 153, Peralta 154 games ,Kolton Wong was at 148 and here’s a shocker…Mark Reynolds has played 137 games ! Yadi was at 136 games

….Miami got all they wanted when they obtained Dee Gordon from the Dodgers last year…Gordon is just 1 Stolen Base behind Billy Hamilton for the league leadership but Gordon hit .329 while Hamilton scratched out a weak .226 average

….how about AL sluggers Chris Davis (Balt)—45 round trippers and Nelson Cruz belting out 44 dingers while holding his head above the .300 water level at .301. Last year Cruz belted 40 out in Baltimore but many thought he’d drop noticeably in Seattle…nope…Nelson can hit….or maybe dope….sorry…that thought always peculates in my head when talking or looking at sluggers these days.

…another swing and a miss for Houston (they do that a lot) was J.D. Martinez…released in March 2014 by the Astros …Martinez wrapped out 38 HR as a Tiger this year. That was a team that disappeared once the fireworks of July 4th cooled down & Cabrera was injured.

…speaking of HR and Houston….the Astros had FIVE players with 20+ HR…Evan Gattis (27), Chris Carter & Luis Valbuena each had 24, Colby Rasmus pumped out 22 round tripers, and young rookie sensation, Chris Correa had 21 HR in just 375 AB


Random football thoughts…

… why is a college team called a program instead of a team? Isn’t there just 1 team?..

….despite all the hull-a-ba-loo about having nimble, agile, athletic QB for the NFL….from my eyes it’s still the relatively stationary QB like Brady, Luck, Mannings, Rogers, Palmer who have their teams in the NFL playoffs..sure there are a few exceptions like Russel Wilson but….these old stand-bys careers seem to last longer & more productively

….It was an utterly unbelievable HS football game on Friday as the SM Dragons rallied from a 14 point deficit…had good field position late in the game but couldn’t score in the waning minute …then St Francis Borgia DID score…went for the 2 pointer and won 50-49…it was a game that you just never knew what was going to happen….lots of fun to watch

….what a difference a coach can make….Illini upsetting the Cornhuskers on Sat…to me there isn’t any question that temp-coach Cubit should be rehired on a permanent basis—and NOW


That Cha-ching sound you hear is the NFL register ringing up the viewing # despite the Deflate-gate, talk of concussions, hearing older vets talking about the “after –effects” of this grueling sport..it doesn’t seem to matter… Football is still king ….take a look….


Primetime Broadcast Adults 18-49 Ratings for the week ending September 27, 2015

NFL productions were #1,3, 5 in ratings

 Rank Shows   18-49 Viewers    
1 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL-9/27   10,307,000
2 EMPIRE-09/23   8,442,000
3 CBS+NFLN THU NT FOOTBALL-9/24   7,556,000
4 BIG BANG THEORY, THE-9/21   5944
5 FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 3-9/27   5,549,000


Primetime Broadcast Adults 18-49 Ratings for the week ending September 20, 2015

NFL was # 1,2,3,7 for the week

Rank Shows 18-49 Viewers      
1 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL-9/20/2015 12,266,000      
2 CBS+NFLN THU NT FOOTBALL-9/17/2015 9,522,000      
3 FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 3-9/20/2015 6,403,000      
4 AUDI KICKOFF TO THE EMMYS-9/20/2015 5,889,000      
5 EMMY AWARDS-09/20/2015 4,517,000      
6 AMERICA’S GOT TALENT-TUE-9/15/2015 2,991,000      
7 FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 2-9/20/2015 3,062,000      


Primetime Broadcast Adults 18-49 Ratings for the week ending September 13, 2015:

NFL was # 1,2, 3,4, 5, 7 for this week

 Rank Shows 18-49 Viewers
1 NBC NFL TH SPECIAL-09/10 13,112,000
2 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL-09/13 12,856,000
3 FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 3-09/13 6,888,000
4 NFL OPENING KICK-OFF SHOW-09/10 5,101,000
5 FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 2-09/13 4,657,000
6 60 MINUTES-09/13 3,426,000


Outside the Zou……

Don’t know who the source was that unlocked our question (but I have my suspicions)…but we read the news that Moon-Man Mike Shannon WAS actually on vaca….I heard (that means its rumor) that it was a safari….good for Mike..there is life beyond baseball





  1. Rob Kodner says:

    If you like big time college football, Mizzou is pretty much the only choice here in St. Louis. They have not always had the best team around, but every time we think they are about to disappear from a competitive program, they seem to come up with a surprise to keep them in contention. This past weekend it was the freshman Drew Lock. Maty Mauck was stinking up the joint this year and would have probably continued to start had he not been suspended. Fortunately for the Tigers, the new kid on the block was thrust into the starting role at QB and played pretty darn well for a first start. I would wager, that except for an injury, will be the starter for quite some time into the future. It is still a special afternoon, to ride the 100 plus miles to Columbia and watch the Tigers on a beautiful Fall day.

  2. John Rocco says:

    Bob, good article as always. You are right about the atmosphere at Mizzou. Their game against Florida this week is huge.

    I enjoyed college football this weekend. Nebraska, Texas and Notre Dame all lost

    So even though Albert had great power numbers this year (40/95) I wonder how much he’s enjoying LaLa land. As I recall he went there to be on team that would win…and the money had nothing to do with it….right.

    Go Cards



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