In the end, Dorial Green-Beckham gave Missouri no choice.
Despite no charges being filed in a fight over the weekend in which Green-Beckham allegedly injured two women after storming into a Columbia, Mo., apartment, the 6'6", 225-pound rising junior wide receiver for the Tigers was dismissed from the program, Missouri announced on Friday.
“This decision was made with the best interests of all involved in mind,” said head coach Gary Pinkel in a statement released by Missouri. “Dorial’s priority going forward needs to be focusing on getting the help he needs. As we have all along, we will continue to do everything we can to assist Dorial and his family."
Green-Beckham caught 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, finally living up to the 5-star hype that followed him to Columbia.
So where does Missouri go from here? The offense has to change quite a bit.
Missouri losing Green-Beckham is similar to the loss of a starting quarterback. Even though he's not touching the ball on every snap, Missouri's offense was going to be built around him and opposing defenses would have been forced to game plan to shut him down.
His absence puts more pressure on wide receivers Bud Sasser, Wesley Leftwich, Darius White, J'Mon Moore and Jake Brents. New quarterback Maty Mauk established quite a connection with DGB when Mauk took over for an injured James Franklin last season, and that connection was the foundation in which the entire 2014 Tigers offense was supposed to be built on.
Now that it's gone, that means more pressure for Mauk to find a new go-to guy. Unfortunately for Mauk, Pinkel and the rest of Missouri, there is no receiver on the roster comparable to Dorial Green-Beckham.
Nobody's even close.
With L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas gone, Missouri's wide receiving corps is now incredibly inexperienced, as my colleague Ben Kercheval notes.
With dismissal of DGB, Missouri has lost roughly 2/3 of its receiving production in receptions, yards and touchdowns from 2013.— Ben Kercheval (@BenKercheval) April 11, 2014
That means Mauk is going to have to mature in a hurry.
My colleague Adam Kramer got exclusive reaction from Mauk when he heard the news.
“Well, [string of horrendous expletives]” - Maty Mauk— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) April 11, 2014
OK, maybe that's not verbatim...but it's probably close to the truth.
Mauk completed just 51.1 percent of his passes last season (68-of-133), and five of Mauk's 11 touchdown passes last year went to Green-Beckham. The weight of the offense is now on Mauk's shoulders, because the entire Missouri offense would have been predicated on Green-Beckham. Whichever side he lined up on, a safety would almost certainly roll over to his side.
Now there is no game-breaking receiver on the roster, which makes it more difficult for Mauk to exploit matchups outside, and more difficult for Missouri to go ground-and-pound with running backs Russell Hansbrough, Marcus Murphy and Morgan Steward.
Even if they do become more of a run-based offense—which was the case in 2011 when they finished ninth in the nation in rushing offense (243.46 YPG)—they'll have to find some way to keep opposing defenses honest downfield, and DGB was scheduled to be a big part of that plan.
Does this mean Missouri is going to have a hard time repeating as SEC East champs?
It was going to be an uphill battle anyway, and that hill is just a little steeper now.
The Tigers were successful last season because of their deep and dynamic offense, and now all of that depth at wide receiver is gone. On top of that, defensive ends Kony Ealy and Michael Sam played a big part in generating pressure in which that Tigers secondary, led by cornerback E.J. Gaines, routinely capitalized on.
With all of those players gone, Missouri is going to have its work cut out for it if it wants to make a return trip to Atlanta.
* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All statements and quotes were obtained firsthand via statement from the University of Missouri, all spring stats are courtesy of the University of Missouri, all college stats from previous seasons are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.com.