Campus Corner

Mizzou Mailbag: Bowl chances, chrome helmets and Franklin’s health

Updated: 2013-10-25T17:30:19Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

So, I solicit questions on Twitter and now I suppose you want answers. Fine, but stop yelling at me and let’s just get to it — your weekly #MizzouMailbag:

How do you know I haven’t already? Maybe I’ve even booked passage to Pasadena in January. After all, Missouri has never lost since I’ve been The Star’s beat writer. I see no reason that would change. If I had to guess, I’d say the Tigers probably won’t lose against until 2043 when I retire and, yes, I’m going to take full credit for it. OK, I’ll share partial credit for the Indiana game …

First of all, it’s anthracite. Get it right! And ask, and you shall receive.

Oh, sometimes Tigers fans just need a hug. It’s not that CBS hates Missouri. It’s that CBS loves ratings and doesn’t believe the Tigers can deliver. It’s still on TV, though, so don’t fret too much. Methinks a road game actually might help, because more eyeballs across Missouri would be glued to the television. But I seriously doubt CBS is going to air the Tigers’ game at Kentucky. However, if Missouri remains undefeated, it would be shocking if CBS didn’t select the game at Mississippi on Nov. 23. Check that, considering that Florida and Alabama play nonconference cupcakes that day, it would be criminal.

Safeties coach Alex Grinch quipped that recruits are now calling Missouri rather than the other way around Monday at the Tiger Quarterback Club in Columbia, Mo. Absolutely, the Tigers’ success is having a positive impact in recruiting. There are ways to work around scholarship limits in some instances. Creative scholarship practices abound, so if top-tier recruits want to come, I suspect Missouri will find a way to accommodate them.

That depends. How realistic are the Tigers’ chances to beat South Carolina and Tennessee, win at Mississippi and topple Texas A&M? Not to mention surviving a game at Kentucky. And wouldn’t that be the most Missouri thing ever to go 11-1 with the only loss being on a fluke play in Lexington, Ky.? Anyway, I’m on the record saying bowl projections this early in the season are foolhardy, but there are some people who live for it. And others who dabble in it.

For me, there are too many variables at play to make any intelligent decisions. In my mind, the key games — aside from a possible SEC championship game — are against the Gamecocks and Aggies. A loss to either of those teams opens the door for a bowl committee to bypass a Missouri team with a superior resume for the star power of South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney or Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Win those games, though, and the Sugar Bowl or Capital One Bowl probably await, unless …

I try to never say never, but it’s hard to imagine an undefeated SEC champion being left in the cold. For starters, the likelihood that Ohio State, Oregon and Florida State all finish undefeated is remote knowing the fickle nature of college football. Obviously, Alabama would have to lose somewhere along the line for Missouri to be unbeaten, so that problem takes care of itself.

The Tigers will get a pretty significant bump in terms of strength of schedule with South Carolina, Texas A&M and an SEC title game. And it’s not like the Tennessee or Mississippi games are going to hurt, especially when you examine the remaining schedule for Florida State and Ohio State, in particular. The computers already love Missouri. It would be to the human voters, but taking down the Tide in an SEC title game and being 12-0 would probably be enough to convince the nation’s collective conscience.

Then again, this is Missouri

Coach Gary Pinkel has said. Maty Mauk has said it. James Franklin is Missouri’s starting quarterback. When he’s healthy, he returns to the starting lineup, but I suspect a much more concerted effort to find a series or two for Mauk will be made, especially if he continues to play well. Of course, it’s too early to say when, or even if, Franklin actually will return.

Tempted? Yes. Would he go? Probably not after the Tigers win a national championship. Speaking of Missouri coaches …

Minority Report is one of those movies I have to watch if it comes on, because I pick up something new almost every viewing. To borrow from Minority Report, there was an orgy of evidence in the Bruce Pearl case and the NCAA didn’t wholesale botch its own investigation. Meanwhile, the case against Frank Haith was circumstantial, based mostly on the word of a slimy felon and tainted by the NCAA’s own unethical conduct. Plus, the NCAA is much more terrified of its member schools and the threat that the power conferences will secede and render the entire organization obsolete than it was even a few years ago.

Jordan Clarkson. I mean, yeah, Jordan Clarkson.

Record-wise, the two teams might be very similar. The Southeastern Conference is a better league than last year with Kentucky absolutely loaded and Florida expected to be very good again. Led by Bishop Miege grad Trevor Releford, I’m expecting a big season from Alabama, while Tennessee seems to be a trendy pick for a bounce-back season.

The nonconference schedule has some tough games, including Nevada in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving (sorry, honey!), West Virginia (Dec. 5) and UCLA (Dec. 7) at home back-to-back two days apart, the annual Braggin’ Rights game against Illinois (Dec. 21), a date at North Carolina State (Dec. 28) and a potential sleeper matchup versus Long Beach State (Jan. 4). But this team is good enough to make the tourney for a sixth straight season.

All along, Booker, who is the son of former Tigers great Melvin Booker, has said Missouri feels like home. He speaks highly about coach Frank Haith and his assistant coach Tim Fuller. Booker — a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Moss Point, Miss. — reportedly narrowed his list to Missouri, Michigan, Kentucky and Michigan State, but saved his visit to Columbia, Mo., for last. To my mind, that’s a good sign.

He was in town to watch the Tigers’ football team dust off the Gators 36-17 in football last weekend and will be back Friday as his dad and the rest of Missouri’s 1993-94 team, which finished 28-4 and rolled through the Big Eight unbeaten, are honored before the current team’s exhibition opener against Oklahoma City at the Hearnes Center. Booker averaged 29.7 points per game last season as a junior and was chosen as Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year. He’s a stud, but he’s also got ties to Michigan, where he lived through ninth grade.

The volleyball team is really good. And I haven’t ignored that.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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