Category Archives: Missouri Tigers

The SEC’s toothless tigers

Two of the three Southeastern Conference football teams nicknamed Tigers are finding out the cheap hire is often the wrong hire.

Missouri is a dumpster fire. Barry Odom is in over his head. He might have been a fine coordinator under Gary Pinkel, but as the man in charge, he is trying to navigate the Missouri River in a canoe.

The Tigers looked absolutely pitiful yesterday in a 35-3 loss at home to Purdue. Yes, the Boilermakers have been in the Big Ten since the conference was formed, but when was the last time Purdue was mentioned consistently among college football’s elite? Hmmm….I want to say it was when Jack Mollenkopf was coaching, and last I checked, he retired after the 1969 season, seven years before I was born.

The Boilermakers won the Rose Bowl after the 1966 season, when Bob Griese was a senior. Since then, Purdue has made it to Pasadena ONCE (which is still one more time than Minnesota and the same number of times as Indiana and Northwestern in the last 51 seasons), and that was with Drew Brees.

Purdue plummeted like a rock once Brees departed. The school from West Lafayette has been in the lower division of the Big Ten every year since 2000, and the Boilermakers were absolutely dreadful under Darrell Hazell, who was 9-33 in three and a half seasons before he was fired at the mid-point of the 2016 campaign.

Jeff Brohm, a former standout quarterback at Louisville under Howard Schnellenberger and then a very successful head coach at Western Kentucky, has got Purdue going in the right direction. The Boilermakers gave Louisville a major scare in the season opener, and have now destroyed Ohio (more on the Bobcats later) and Missouri. Purdue isn’t going to be a factor in the Big Ten race this year, but it should be a consistent bowl team under Brohm.

Missouri is going in the opposite direction as Purdue. The Tigers have been a hot mess since racial tension on campus two years ago, which led to Pinkel’s resignation. Odom’s defenses have been nothing short of awful. Rockhurst High in Kansas City has a better defense than Mizzou.

Odom has got to be on the hot seat. If athletic director Jim Sterk is not seriously vetting candidates, then shame on him. The longer Odom lingers at his alma mater, the better the chance Mizzou relapses into pitifulness, which was the state of the program for much of the 1980s and 1990s.

I fear the Tigers will slip to the point where they were under Woody Widenhofer (1985-88) and Bob Stull (1989-93), which was fighting like hell to stay out of the Big Eight cellar. Mizzou teams of that era routinely were destroyed by Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma, were dominated by Oklahoma State (prior to 1989, when the Cowboys were severely sanctioned by the NCAA), and had trouble with Iowa State and Kansas. Kansas State was the one punching bag the Tigers routinely beat, but that all changed under Bill Snyder, who turned the tide completely in favor of the Wildcats in the series by 1991. \

After consistently going to bowl games under Dan Devine (1958-70), and then making semi-regular appearnaces under Al Onofrio (1971-76) and Warren Powers (1977-84), Mizzou went 13 seasons (1984-96) with no bowl games. NONE. Larry Smith, the former Tulane, Arizona and USC coach, took the Tigers to minor bowl games, but Mizzou was back at rock bottom in 1999 and 2000.

It took Pinkel a couple of years to turn Mizzou around, but once he did, the Tigers became bowl fixture. In 2007, the Tigers ascended to number one after beating Kansas in the regular season finale, but they fell to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.

Mizzou is not going to a bowl game this year unless something turns around right now. I can’t see the Tigers winning an SEC game, not with Kentucky and Vanderbilt much improved, and with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee all well above Mizzou. Not happening.

Now on to my alma mater.

There was a team wearing LSU’s uniforms last night in Starkville. The names on the players’ jerseys were the ones which were listed on the roster released by the school.

Yes, the Bayou Bengals were there in body. In spirit? No way.

I expected LSU to have a very difficult time with Mississippi State. I went in feeling the Bulldogs had a great chance to win. The Bayou Bengals went in having won eight consecutive games in Starkville, and I figured the Bulldogs were overdue.

State had a huge advantage at quarterback, where Nick Fitzgerald was an All-SEC selection last year. LSU’s Danny Etling is competent and nothing more. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen is an acclaimed offensive mind, having helped Florida win the 2006 and 2008 national cahmpionshp and molding Tim Tebow into a Heisman Trophy winner. LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been as popular as his boss, Ed Orgeron, since his hiring earlier this year, but I was skeptical. Still am skeptical.

The game which unfolded bore out every point I listed above.

Not only did State win, it embarrassed LSU. Bulldogs 37, Bayou Bengals 7.

How bad was it? State’s largest margin of victory EVER over LSU.

The Bayou Bengals and Bulldogs have been playing each other since 1896, and continuously since 1944. Counting last night’s game, LSU has played Mississippi State–once known as Mississippi A&M–111 times, more than any other opponent.

Last night was State’s 35th win in the series, compared to 73 for LSU, with three ties.

The Bayou Bengals had two touchdowns called back by penalty, although they got one of those back two plays later. In the second half, two defensive players, Donnie Alexander and Neal Farrell, were ejecting for hits to the head of Fitzgerald.

LSU was penalized nine times for 112 yards. It is on pace to commit 120 penalties for over 1,000 yards.

If Orgeron is as committed to discipline, he will suspend Alexander and Farrell for the entire game vs. Syracuse this week, not just for the first half as mandated under NCAA rules.

Regardless of what happens, Orgeron was a very disappointing hire for a team which has one of the largest budgets of any university.

LSU does not want for cash. It doesn’t have as many deep-pocketed donors as some schools, but it is the flagship university, the only one in a Power Five confernece, and there are big fans from every corner of the state. LSU consistently is deep in the black and pays its coaches handsomely.

Orgeron’s hire falls squarely on the shoulders of athletic director Joe Alleva, whom I believe should never have been hired in the first place.

The way Alleva severely mishandled the Duke lacrosse case when he was the Blue Devils’ athletic director should have precluded him from getting any other job as an athletic director, much less at a power school like LSU. I don’t know what LSU saw in him, unless Mike Kryzewzski convinced the administration Alleva was the second coming and was the only person worth hiring.

Alleva hired LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell-Fargas, who I do not like. If Alleva were smart, he would have gone to Waco and had a blank contract for Kim Mulkey, who has been at Baylor for nearly two decades now. Alleva would have asked Mulkey to fill in a dollar amount. LSU could certainly afford it.

LSU women’s basketball was a dominant program in the middle of the last decade, reaching the Final Four five consecutive years (2004-08), although it did not win a single game.

Now, the Bayou Bengals are at best a middling program in the SEC. They have been passed and lapped by Mississippi State and South Carolina, have fallen well behind Kentucky, and are still way behind Tennessee, even though the Lady Volunteers are not the superpower they were under the late, great Pat Summitt. LSU also lags behind the SEC newcomers, Texas A&M and Missouri.

Had Mulkey been hired, I’m certain at least one national championship banner would be hanging from the rafters of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center right now.

As for Pistol Pete’s old program, it is as low as the Marianna Trench right now.

Alleva is on his third men’s basketball coach, Will Wade, who came from VCU, where he succeeded Shaka Smart after he left for Texas. The 35-year old has brought youthful energy to the Bayou Bengals, but will that energy translate into victories? It won’t in 2017-18, but if it doesn’t in 2018-19 and beyond, then it will be another bust, right up there with Wade’s predecessors, Johnny Jones (2012-17) and Trent Johnson (2008-11).

LSU has won ONE NCAA tournament game with Alleva as athletic director. In 2015-16, the Bayou Bengals had Ben Simmons, regarded as the greatest basketball player to step on campus since Shaquille O’Neal. Simmons could not get LSU to the NCAA tournament, then skipped school and became the #1 overall pick of the 76ers in the 2016 NBA draft. Last year, LSU tied Missouri for dead last in the SEC. This year, LSU will likely occupy the cellar by itself, since Missouri has brought in a stellar recruiting class under Cuonzo Martin, who took over for Kim Anderson, who like Odom and Orgeron, was grossly in over his head.

Alleva cannot take credit for baseball coach Paul Maineri, because he was hired by Skip Bertman, Alleva’s predecessor who built LSU baseball into college baseball’s Death Star, winning five championships from 1991-2000 and 870 games in 18 seasons (1984-2001). Maineri led LSU to the 2009 national championship and the College World Series championship series earlier this year.

Orgeron was hired as LSU’s defensive line coach in 2015, and was elevated to interim head coach after four games in 2016 when Les Miles, hired by Bertman to replace Nick Saban in early 2005, was fired. Ironically, Orgeron’s first game in charge at LSU a 42-7 victory over Missouri in Baton Rouge.

Oregeron is not currently in dire straits like Odom (or Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M, Bret Bielema at Arkansas or Butch Jones at Tennessee), but if Orgeron goes 7-5 this season, the grumbling will be heard long and hard in the bayou.

Yes, Orgeron is Louisiana through and through, growing up in Larose, playing for a state championship team at South Lafourche High in 1977 and then playing in college briefly for LSU and more extensively at Northwestern State in Natchitoches. Orgeron was the most popular hire LSU has made in recent memory, much more so than Nick Saban was when he came from Michigan State and Miles when he came from Oklahoma State.

Alleva was ready to hire Tom Herman when Texas moved quickly to fire Charlie Strong. The Longhorns are the one program which can pay a higher wage than LSU, and paid it to swipe Herman from Houston. With Herman out of the picture, Alleva simply waved the white flag and took the “interim” off of Orgeron’s title.

Nobody doubts Orgeron is a great defensive line coach and recruiter. He coached Warren Sapp at Miami. He coached some great players at USC, including two-time All-American Shaun Cody. And he was recruiting very well at

As a head coach, Orgeron just doesn’t cut it. He was brutally bad at Ole Miss, going 10-25 over three seasons, including a pathetic 3-21 mark in the SEC. The Rebels bottomed out under Orgeron after winning 10 games in 2003 under David Cutcliffe. Ole Miss bounced back under Hugh Freeze, but that was because Freeze broke more than a few NCAA rules to build his teams.

Alleva should have hired Brohm or someone proven as a head coach. If Orgeron didn’t like it, he was free to find another job. I’m sure Pete Carroll would have offered Orgeron a position with the Seahawks had Orgeron not been able to find a college job.

There is no excuse for Alleva’s laziness. NONE. LSU should never have hired Alleva in the first place, but the Bayou Bengals have got to get someone new in the athletic director’s chair, or LSU may rot from within.

The Saints are down 20-3 to the Patriots at the end of the first quarter. It’s not a good weekend to be a football fan in Louisiana.

Half-hearted rivalries 

In this morning’s Kansas City Star, there was an article with comments from former University of Missouri president R. Bowen Loftin about the possibility of the Tigers resuming their athletic series with the University of Kansas. 

Kansas and Missouri began their football series in 1891, only 30 years after Kansas became the 34th state. The Tigers and Jayhaks played 120 times, making it the oldest NCAA Division I rivalry west of the Mississippi River. FYI, the oldest NCAA football series is Lehigh vs. Lafayette, which bgan in 1884.

Loftin stated only one reason why Mizzou and Kansas have not played since the Tigers left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2012.

Bill Self.

Loftin blamed Self, the Jayhawks’ men’s basketball coach who will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame later this year, for not wanting to play Mizzou, at least in football and men’s basketball. In recent years, Mizzou has reached out numerous times to Kansas about playing football games at Arrowhead Stadium and basketball games at Sprint Center, but each time, the Jyayhawks have said no way. 

Self, of course, denied Loftin’s premise. He emphatically stated he had nothingt to do with football scheduling. 

Loftin speaks from experience about dormant rivalries. In 2012, he was president at Texas A&M when the Aggies joined Mizzou in leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. A&M wanted to continue its rivalry with Texas, but the Longhorns refused. 

In his comments, Loftin believed the Longhorns and Aggies would continue their rivalry before the Tigers and Jayhawks do. 

I know about in-state rivlaries going dormant, but Louisiana really isn’t comparable to Texas, or to Missouri-Kansas, either. Tulane has never really been at LSU’s level, and the gulf has continually widened since the Green Wave dropped out of the SEC in 1966. LSU discontinued its annual rivalry with Tulane on the gridiron after the 1994 season; the teams played four consecutive years from 2006-2009, but LSU then bought out the remaining six games on the contract. In men’s basketball, Dale Brown dropped Tulane in 1981 because he felt the Greenies were non-competitive. Tulane dropped its program for three years in the 1980s due to a point shaving scandal, but the Tigers refused to play Tulane until 2003, seven seasons after Brown retired. LSU and Tulane only compete in women’s basketball and baseball, as well as a few minor sports. 

As much as I’d like to see LSU and Tulane play every year in football, Tulane must shoulder a lot of the blame. Why not play in Baton Rouge every year, or four out of every five years? The Greenies are going to make far more in Tiger Stadium than they ever will at Tulsa, SMU, East Carolina or another American Athletic Conference school, and certainly much, much more than playing at UL Lafayette or Louisiana Tech. As for LSU, it would be much more financially prudent to play Tulane than to pay Troy or Chattanooga an exorbitant sum to come to Death Valley as it is doing this season. It would have been much better in 2017 becuase LSU has only six home games, since the Florida game was switched to Gainesville after last season’s Hurricane Matthew flap. 

On the flip side, if Tulane wants LSU to come to New Orleans, it is going to (a) have to give LSU a larger cut of the gate and (b) play in the Superdome. Yulman Stadium only seats 30,000. I understand the idea of playing on campus, but in this case, it would be unreasonable for LSU to do so. If Tulane is worried about LSU fans overrunning the Superdome, then that’s too bad.

LSU has tried to make too many other SEC schools their “rival”, but the other school would not reciprocate. The series with Ole Miss has largely been irrelvant since Johnny Vaught retired as Rebel coach in 1970 (save for a brief return in 1973). Alabama could care less about beating LSU unless the Tigers are at or near the top of the polls. As Bear Bryant put it, “I’d rather beat the cow college (Auburn) once than Notre Dame ten times”. Nick Saban has turned this so-called rivalry into a laugher. Auburn and LSU didn’t play every year in football until 1992, and Auburn might be going to the Eastern Division anyway. 

LSU has played Arkansas for the Golden Boot since 1996, but the Tigers resisted it with every fiber of their being until then-SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer finally prevailed upon LSU to play along.  The game has always meant much more in Fayetteville than in Baton Rouge.

Back to the Border War. 
Kansas’ non-conference football schedule this season is an out and out JOKE. Southeast Missouri, Central Michigan, Ohio University. The game vs. the Bobcats is in Athens, Ohio, which is a coup by Ohio coach Frank Solic in getting a Power Five school to travel to Athens and play a Mid-America Conference school. 

The trip to Ohio begs the question: why not play Missouri at Arrowhead and get a huge gate? It would be mutually beneficial. It would allow Mizzou to fulfill the SEC requirement to play a Power Five opponent in non-conference, and Kansas would not have to embarrass itself playing a lower level team like SEMO. 

I cannot say for sure Self is personally responsible for Kansas not wanting to play Mizzou. But the Jayhawks are wrong on this one. Why would Kansas pass up a chance to play in Kansas City, only 45 minutes from its campus, to go to places like Ohio U and Memphis? 

The Texas-Texas A&M series is not something I’m really worried about. Texas has enough in-state rivals (Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU) in the Big 12, and A&M is content making Arkansas and LSU its big rivalry games. 

In the grand scheme, it’s only college sports. It could be worse. The fact the Jets and Giants play only once every four years in the regular season is sad. The NFL is missing the boat. 

Wonderful weekend so far!

Yesterday was a very, very good Saturday. I wish I had not put myself through what I did earlier in the week, because it was totally unnecessary.

Brittany was very glad to see me and she was wearing her usual smile which could melt the polar ice caps. I don’t know how Zach met her, but he’s a lucky son of a gun. So is Jeff, Lisa’s boyfriend. So is Sean Cash, Liz’s boyfriend.

Why did I worry so much about Brittany? Besides, what happened the previous Monday was my fault. Mine. And Brittany was busy training a new employee, so I couldn’t be upset about that. I had no right to be.

Just before noon yesterday, I got up to walk around to stretch my legs, which I like to do from time to time, usually between rounds of trivia. I noticed one of the customers at Lisa’s table left their debit card in the folio the servers give to the customers. It was an Oklahoma State debit card, and if this gentlemen got too far without his debit card, he would have to wait until Tuesday to go to his bank and straighten it out, since the banks are closed tomorrow for Columbus Day.

Luckily, I was able to move fast (I can’t say run, because I can’t run, thanks to my girth) and give the card to its owner before he left. Good deed done.

Turns out there was something in it for me, too. Lisa brought me a $25 gift card, meaning I could eat free or close to it for the day. And I did; after my meals both afternoon and evening, I had only a $2 balance. I gave Morgan Gilliland a $10 bill and told her to keep the change. She’s seven months pregnant and needs the assistance, so I was glad to do it. Besides, Morgan has been very patient listening to me rant on Facebook (in private), so I owed at least that.

It wasn’t the first time I returned something monetary to its rightful owner. In 2009, I found a $50 bill lying on the ground at Osborne High School’s stadium during the annual Kaser Relays. I brought the bill with Ulysses S. Grant’s likeness to public address announcer Rex Johnston, and he and the Osborne staff were able to track down the lady who lost the bill. She gave me a $5 finder’s fee to express her gratitude.

The Missouri game wasn’t good for Brittany. She and Zach are huge Mizzou fans, and it had to be disappointing that the Tigers laid an egg at home on national television.

The Royals took a 2-0 lead in the American League championship series with a 6-4 win at Baltimore. That made Brittany feel much better. She and Alexandra Mullinax have tickets to tomorrow night’s game at Kauffman Stadium.

Once again, it was late heroics which lifted Kansas City, with an RBI double by Alcides Escobar in the top of the ninth plating the go-ahead run, and Lorenzo Cain lacing a single to score Escobar with an insurance run. The Orioles had no chance overcoming a two-run lead against Greg Holland, and the Royals were on their way to the plane at Baltimore-Washington International halfway home to the World Series.

This is the third time in franchise history the Royals have gone up 2-0 in a postseason series. However, this is the first time they’ve done so in a best-of-seven. The other times were best-of-five, and Kansas City ended up sweeping, in the 1980 ALCS vs. the Yankees and this year’s ALDS vs. the Angels. On the other hand, the Royals were DOWN 2-0 in each of their previous three best-of-sevens: 1980 World Series (Phillies), 1985 ALCS (Blue Jays) and 1985 World Series (Cardinals).

LSU beat Florida in Gainesville, 30-27, when Colby Delahoussaye kicked a 50-yard field goal with three seconds to go. The game was mighty sloppy, fitting for two once-pround SEC kingpins which have both fallen on hard times. The Bayou Bengals got a gift late in the game when a pass by Gator quarterback Jeff Driskel was tipped and intercepted by LSU’s Rickey Jefferson with a little more than a minute left at the Florida 36.

LSU was very fortunate to win. Florida fell behind 27-24 with 2:40 to go but drove to the Bayou Bengals’ 1, only to fail on third down to score a touchdown. Gators coach Will Muschamp opted for an 18-yard field goal rather than attempting to win. Not the move I would have made. If you can’t make less than 2 yards, then why bother?

In addition to the lovely Brittany and Lisa, I got to see a lot of my favorite Buffalo Wild Wings staff, including Liz, Shannon and Raymie. I left just before 9 this time.

I had to get up early today to go to Staples in Overland Park. I would have gone to the one across Barry Road from Buffalo Wild Wings, but that store doesn’t open until noon, and since the one in south Overland Park on 135th Street opened at 10, one hour before Buffalo Wild Wings, I figured why not.

I saw Brittany Mathenia-Tucker in the parking lot at Buffalo Wild Wings this morning. She’s now working at the Outback across Barry Road. I’m inside Buffalo Wild Wings now. Not a huge crowd because the Chiefs have a bye and Royals are off today.

I don’t think I’m going to stay extremely long today. I have some work that needs to get done, although I got a head start on it by finishing the Smith Center-Ell-Saline game story and beginning my column, which is about halfway through. I want to have tomorrow as free as possible.

Show-Me Stinker

The stench coming from Columbia, Missouri is wafting all over the Show-Me State.

The Missouri Tigers turned out a total stinker today, losing 34-0 at home to Georgia, which was playing without Todd Gurley, the Bulldogs’ All-America running back who was suspended Thursday for accepting autograph fees, which of course is a violation of NCAA rules.

All of the radio stations in Kansas City began pontificating late Thursday, shortly after Gurley was suspended, that Missouri had the upper hand, that the Tigers were on their way to repeating as SEC East champions. They, and a lot of others, wrote Georgia off, because the Bulldogs also had a backup running back who was hurt, and their quarterback, Huston Mason, was struggling as he tried to fill the sizable shoes left by the graduation of Andy Murray, UGA’s all-time passing leader.

Gurley’s replacement, Nick Chubb, rushed for 143 yards, and Mason completed 22 of 28 passes for 156 yards. The key, though, was the Bulldog defense, which intercepted Missouri quaterback Maty Mauk four times. Mauk was a meager 9 of 21 for 97 yards, and the Tigers finished the game with only 147 net yards.

Georgia needed to win, since the Bulldogs have already lost to South Carolina. The SEC East race is now wide-open, with Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri all sporting a loss. Kentucky beat Louisiana-Monroe in a non-conference game and goes to LSU next weekend. Missouri goes to Florida. Arkansas plays Georgia in Little Rock.

Football Saturday rewind

Today has been a wild ride in college football, hasn’t it? Arkansas looked like it would defeat Texas A&M, and then the Aggies somehow rise from the dead and win in overtime. Missouri recovers from its horrendous home loss to Indiana by going to South Carolina and defeating the Gamecocks, handing Steve Spurrier his second conference loss at home this season. Florida State falls behind North Carolina State by 10 in the third quarter but scores the next 28 to pull away.

Missouri’s loss to Indiana looks far worse now that Indiana was beaten badly at home by Maryland. I can’t stand Terrapins coach Randy Edsall, a real jerk who makes Nick Saban look like he runs a totally loose ship.

My alma mater looked terrible for most of the first quarter. LSU’s Anthony Jennings threw two interceptions vs. New Mexico State, but the Bayou Bengals finally got going behind second string quarterback Brandon Harris and did what was expected, winning 63-7. I’m worried, though. It has to get a lot better, or LSU could be in for some long Saturdays in the SEC, starting a week from tonight at Auburn.

Then again, there was also a lot of normalcy. Kansas State mauled UTEP, although Bill Snyder may have been concerned by the late touchdowns allowed by the defensive backups. Kansas got shut out by Texas at home.

The only football game left on TV is Oregon State-USC. Meh. I’ll check in from time to time, but largely I’m going to get ready for my next excursion to Kansas City to see my friends at Buffalo Wild Wings. Brittany Mathenia-Tucker and Lisa Toebben already said they were working tomorrow. YIppee!