Missouri Tigers Football: Season Full of Adversity Will End in Independence Bowl

Adam SimoneCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 26:  Marcus Lucas #85 of the Missouri Tigers is hoisted by teammates after making a catch for a touchdown during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on November 26, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium  in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The sayings "adversity builds character" and "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" should be the motto for the 2011 Missouri Tigers' football team.

The Tigers battled through one of the most challenging years in team history to finish the season 7-5 and No. 5 in the Big 12 Conference.

Missouri started off the year with a rash of injuries, and it continued for most of the season. Gary Pinkel said he has never seen this many injuries in a season in his entire career.

Tackle Elvis Fisher went down in August with a knee injury and missed the entire 2011 season. Then after Week 1, running back Kendial Lawrence broke his leg in practice and missed the next three games. The next game at Arizona State, running back De'Vion Moore left the game with a leg injury, leaving Henry Josey as the only healthy running back.

Josey responded in a big way by leading the Big 12 in rushing for most of the season. He rushed for 1,168 yards on the year, with nine touchdowns and an average of over eight yards per carry.

Unfortunately, Josey suffered a season-ending injury against Texas Tech when he tore his patellar tendon, ACL and MCL.

It wasn't just injuries that overshadowed the 2011 football season for the Tigers.

Starting in September, after it finally looked like the Big 12 was going to stick together, rumors started swirling that Texas A&M was going to leave the Big 12 Conference for the SEC. There were also rumors that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were going to the Pac-12.

Everyone in Columbia was wondering where Missouri would end up if the Big 12 folded.

On Sept. 21, the Pac-12 announced it wouldn't be expanding past 12 teams, which forced the four Big 12 teams to stay in the conference.

Texas A&M did not care that the others were staying and wanted out. On Sept. 26, Texas A&M made it official that they were bolting for the SEC.

With the apparent lack of stability in the Big 12 Conference, the administration for the University of Missouri decided to look at other options and do what was best for the university. On Nov. 6, they decided that the Tigers would become the 14th member of the SEC.

I wish I could say that was the end of the adversity for the Tigers football team, but it wasn't. On Nov. 16, head coach Gary Pinkel was arrested for driving while intoxicated and was suspended for one week.

And now, one last bit of controversy to end the 2011 season.

According to all of the bowl game projections, it looked like Missouri was going to be rewarded for their resilient season with a trip to San Diego and the Holiday Bowl. It has now been determined that Missouri will be spending their Christmas in lovely Shreveport, LA playing in the Independence Bowl. 

This will be Missouri's third trip to Shreveport since 2003 and will not be a huge draw for Tiger fans. They have already been there before, and nothing against Shreveport, but traveling there isn't quite the same as going to San Diego, Dallas or Tempe.

Missouri's opponent Dec. 26 will be the 7-5 North Carolina Tar Heels.