Every season, there's a selling point for a team.
Usually it's a tag line indicative of something the team is trying to achieve or has just achieved. The Missouri Tigers have had a few tag lines over the years that have defined an era, or a memorable slice in time.
But you can forget all gimmicks and flashy noise. Mizzou has a way of life that defines them now and it's called being Mizzou Made.
To be entirely honest, I initially thought it was some sort of motto intended to sell tickets. That's until I realized that the team goes about pushing the idea from the time a player arrives on campus to well after they've left the team in whatever endeavor they're undertaking.
What does it mean to be Mizzou Made? Let some of these items sink in for a moment:
• Eighth-most winningest BCS program since 2007.
• 97 percent graduation rate.
• Fifth-most NFL first-round draft picks since 2009.
What's special about these numbers is that no other school in the country can boast about being in the top 10 in all three of these categories.
In addition, according to head coach Gary Pinkel's website, being Mizzou Made is defined as "The Mizzou Football Family’s approach to developing student-athletes academically, athletically, and socially better than any program in the nation."
Just how do they do this? Pinkel has a road map that has spelled success for him over the past several seasons and it starts with total player development. Physical training is an essential part of the equation. It starts and ends with their specialist, Dr. Pat Ivey, according to Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Ivey heads a total player development program that works with players physically as well as mentally on various life issues. By instilling a well-rounded sense of discipline as well as how to handle tough life situations, Pinkel has found a winning approach. Bob Knight, Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi are all people that Pinkel has listed as examples of those who promote proper discipline.
The coaches also want to teach values to their players. There are four core values that Tiger players are focused on when it comes to player development: honesty, treating women with respect, no drugs and being able to protect the family.
This approach is found with regard to developing a player rather than the overall team approach. Promoting a culture of a positive atmosphere where all players feel valued by teaching these values to the younger players enables the whole team to work toward these goals, even if they're not the players on the field touching the ball all the time.
Next is making sure that all players receive a proper education—and this is where Mizzou really shines. Their Academic Progress Rate has been among the very top in the nation since the program's introduction.
Over the past five seasons, Mizzou has graduated over 97 percent of its football players, per GaryPinkel.com. But they won't be satisfied until that number is at 100. Players are coming in and getting world-class preparation at football and in life.
One of the final aspects is the most important because it's what the coaches and players talk about all the time: family. It's a term that may seem fairly overplayed and obvious, but at Mizzou it is taken extremely seriously.
Singing songs in a circle like they're at camp, telling stories about their lives, even having the option of attending a church service every Friday evening. There's a ton of things about just being on the Tiger team that makes you feel like you're having the time of your life.
I actually saved the best part for last, which is essentially the team mantra boiled down into two words: "No Excuses."
This is all something I took note of years ago when signs were hung throughout the Mizzou locker rooms. "No excuses. An excuse is the first thing that comes out of someone's mouth that attempts to justify failure." Wow. If there was ever a quote that could sum up the proper way to deal with just about any challenge or obstacle in life, it's this.
I'm a fan. If what Mizzou was doing here wasn't the best possible thing, I think I might be the first person jumping and screaming that we ought to do things like a program that's winning. But Mizzou is that program.
Follow Dan Irwin on Twitter @irwinsports or on Facebook.