Missouri Tigers Football: Blaine Gabbert and the Best and Worst Offseason Issues
Gary Pinkel has had to deal with a lot of players coming and leaving this Offseason. Blaine and Tyler Gabbert have left Columbia, Missouri and have moved on to the NFL and the Big Ten, respectively.
The recruiting class was not a spectacular one, but some positives can come from this offseason.
We are going to discuss the five best and the five worst offseason developments that happened to the Missouri Tigers in the past few months.
Let’s start with the five worst developments before moving in to the five best developments.
5. No. 48 Recruiting Class in the Nation
According to Rivals.com the Missouri Tigers had the 48th best recruiting class in the nation.
If the Missouri Tigers want to compete for a national championship, they need to start having a better recruiting class. If you look at the past teams that played in the BCS National Championship game, they all had great success in recruiting in the past few years.
Having the best game plan or the best instruction from coaches will not win you a championship in college football like it can for you in the NFL. In college, the team with the best players wins. Not just one stud player but an entire team of great players.
Can one superstar player send you over the top like in the case of Auburn getting Cam Newton last year. Yes, however, all the great recruiting classes prior to Newton showing up at Auburn allowed Newton to succeed at the level he did.
But Missouri doesn’t have to play and beat everybody in the nation to play for a national championship. They only need to win their conference in order to have a good shot at making it to the BCS title game.
4. No. 8 in Big 12 Recruiting
The Missouri Tigers only have three non conference games in 2011, Miami of Ohio, at Arizona State and Western Illinois.
Arizona State will be the toughest competition for the Tigers prior to conference play. And it will be a good test prior to playing Oklahoma on the road.
The problem is Missouri only had the eighth-best recruiting class in the conference according to Rivals.com.
This is not good for the future of Missouri Football. The Big 12 schedule will be much tougher (we’ll get into that later) than it has ever been, so getting the best players in the conference is at an even bigger premium than what it was already at.
Now nine games out of Missouri’s 12-game schedule will be conference games. Going undefeated will be difficult when you are only beating out two teams, on 75 percent of your schedule, in recruiting.
3. Tyler Gabbert Leaves School
This could be a huge blow for the Missouri Tigers, and then again it may be the best thing for them. That’s why right now it is going in the middle of the five worst things to happen to Missouri this offseason.
Tyler Gabbert could become a superstar quarterback. This past spring, Gabbert and James Franklin battled for the No. 1 quarterback spot.
A few months later, Tyler’s dad said that his son will be leaving Missouri to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "for an opportunity to compete and vie for a starting position;" it was obvious because of that comment that Tyler didn’t get the starting role.
This could have one of two effects.
1) This could motivate Tyler to become the best quarterback who ever lived. He will prove that the current discussions of Brady or Manning being the best quarterbacks ever are irrelevant because Tyler Gabbert will be a greater quarterback than either of those two or any other quarterback in history. All of this just to show Missouri and Gary Pinkel it was the biggest mistake they have ever made.
2) Tyler continues to have his dad and brother tell him that he is a great quarterback. His dad will tell him that he deserves to be the starting quarterback for any team he is on, no matter how little work he has put towards being a great quarterback.
When Tom Brady got passed up by an underclassman, Drew Henson, did Tom Brady transfer to a different team? If Tom Brady was in Tyler Gabbert’s position do you think he would have transferred to a different school?
2. Now Have To Play Texas and Oklahoma Every Year
The Big 12 lost Colorado and Nebraska last year to the newly formed Pac-12 and the Big Ten Conferences respectively.
This leaves the Big 12 with only 10 teams left in its conference. The Big 12 now has 10 schools, and the Big 10 has 12 schools. Just making sure everyone is on the same page.
When the Big 12 had 12 schools, it was impossible for every team in the conference to play each other once in a season. Now with only 10 schools remaining, it is going to happen every year. Now the schedule will include football power houses Texas and Oklahoma every year.
Texas and Oklahoma produce some of the best teams in the nation. Every now and then, you will have other teams in the formally Big 12 South division having great years. Texas Tech, Oklahoma St. and even for next year Texas A&M who will have 18 starters returning to school in 2011, but you could luck out in not having to play them until the Big 12 Championship game.
The conference schedule for the Tigers starts rough with a visit to Norman, Oklahoma to play the Sooners. After that, it gets easier. The Tigers play Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma St. all at home. Texas doesn’t come to Columbia until November 12th, plenty of time for Missouri to get their new starting quarterback, James Franklin, accustomed to playing at the Division I college football level.
Speaking of having new quarterbacks…
1. Blaine Gabbert Forgoes His Senior Year of School
Blaine Gabbert played three years at The University of Missouri. His freshman year, he was the third string quarterback behind Chase Daniel. Blaine's sophomore year, he won the starting job and led the Tigers to an 18-8 record but lost in the Texas Bowl in 2009 and the Insight Bowl in 2010.
However, having Blaine back for his senior year would have made the Missouri Tigers a preseason favorite to win the Big 12 but also contend for a national title. Only two tough road games to worry about and no Big 12 championship game, having an undefeated season for the Tigers would be a reasonable expectation.
Now with James Franklin running the show, no one can for sure say whether or not the Missouri Tigers will be a success. James may be terrible or get injured, and the backup quarterback the Missouri coaches thought they would have will be playing for another school.
This is not a good way to go into a new football season.
Anytime you have a player leave after his junior year and have a NFL team trade up in the draft to select him in the first round, it is fairly reasonable to expect, if he would have stayed in school, that the player's senior year would have been special.
5. Great 2012 Recruiting Class
Now for the good situations that happened this offseason for the Missouri Tigers.
I know these players haven’t signed a letter of intent yet and could still change their mind at any moment until February 2, 2012, but the prospect of getting a quality recruiting class can only be exciting for Tiger fans.
According to ESPN.com three, four out of five star recruits have all committed to the Missouri Tigers.
Running back Jonathan Williams, inside linebacker Donavin Newsom and offensive tackle Germain Ifedi all have said they will be going to school in Columbia, Missouri in 2012.
This could be a great thing for the future of Missouri football. With the much recent success of Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert at Missouri, the Tigers are on their way to becoming a very respected football program not only in the Big 12 but also the nation.
You need great recruiting classes to win at this level, and I know this past year's class is not touted as being the best, but if Missouri can continue to win and continue to be talked about in the media, the number of students at the school will rise and the better players in high school will be willing to go to Missouri rather than Texas or Oklahoma.
Missouri needs to start competing competitively in recruiting battles with Oklahoma and Texas. Right now, all the best players go to other schools, but with this recruiting class coming in 2012, this may be the spark that gets the fire going for the Tigers.
4. Wesley Leftwich
Even though the recruiting class for the Tigers did not go as planned this past year, we can still talk about the best players coming to Columbia. After all, Missouri was in the top half of the recruiting classes in the nation.
Wesley will become a hometown hero. Going to Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri, Leftwich will have every Tigers fan instantly loving this kid.
At 6’1” 195 pounds, this guy could become the next Wes Welker. They already share similar first names, what more could you need?
Leftwich is fast, has great hands and has a knack for making huge plays in huge moments. Besides the name, it does sound an awful lot like I was describing Wes Welker just then as I was typing that last sentence.
3. Shane Ray
He's a 6’2”, 225 defensive end that is capable of playing defensive tackle.
He is fast enough to play the end position but also strong enough to stop the run on the outside. This guy is a freak of nature.
If he continues to work hard and listen to his coaches, he could become a great outside linebacker for an NFL team that runs a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Think of Shane as the next DeMarcus Ware.
2. Sheldon Richardson
Sheldon Richardson is a JUCO defensive tackle that is capable of coming in right away and making an impact for the Tigers.
According to Rivals.com, the 6’4”, 290 pound Richardson is the only 4-star player attending school at Missouri this coming year. This guy is athletic and can also play the tight end position if he is asked to do so.
He is much better at defensive tackle, and the Tigers will need him on the defensive end of the ball, but maybe during goal line formations, Pinkel might be able to sneak him in.
1. Four Nationally Televised Games
So far four games on the Missouri Tiger schedule are going to be televised nationally. Miami of Ohio, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Kansas have all been scheduled to be aired on national television.
This doesn’t cover the other eight games on the Tigers schedule. That is fixed by a new deal that was announced on April 13, 2011. According to MUTigers.com, Fox Sports Media Group has reached an agreement with the Big 12 conference to air a minimum of 40 football games per season.
This means that almost all of Missouri’s games will be aired on either FX or FSN. Both of these channels are available in millions of homes.
Being on TV nationally is how colleges can afford to have football programs. The conference gets a huge pay check from Fox and still gets a check from ESPN in its current deal with Big 12. The schools then split that revenue 10 ways.
The reason schools love being on national television is what is referred to as the Flutie Effect.
When Doug Flutie of Boston College threw a Hail Mary to beat the Miami Hurricanes on national television, Boston College admissions skyrocketed the next year for one reason and one reason only. Several kids saw Boston College beat Miami.
Those kids now have an emotional response they previously didn’t have with Boston College prior to watching that game. Now the kids are saying to themselves, “You know Boston College might be a cool place to go to school.”
The book Beer and Circus by Murray Sperber explains this phenomenon. It is because of the Flutie Effect colleges like The University of Connecticut and other football championship series schools are willing to sacrifice winning a national championship for making millions of dollars.
The Big 12 getting a deal done with Fox has been the best thing for every school in the Big 12 this past offseason. Many feel losing Colorado and Nebraska was the worst thing to happen to the Big 12 (it nearly crippled it had Texas fled to the SEC), but with this new TV deal in place with Fox, the Missouri Tigers and every other school came out ahead.