University of Missouri

Missouri’s SEC Network debut a matter of routine already

Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Lucas Vincent (left) and linebacker Donovan Bonner (right) tried to fight off their blocks to tackle Auburn Tigers running back Tre Mason in last season’s SEC championship football game.
Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Lucas Vincent (left) and linebacker Donovan Bonner (right) tried to fight off their blocks to tackle Auburn Tigers running back Tre Mason in last season’s SEC championship football game. Kansas City Star

There are mixed opinions about the significance of Missouri’s first football game on the SEC Network.

“It’ll be fun,” said senior defensive tackle Lucas Vincent, an Olathe North graduate. “The SEC Network is a really cool thing. It’s the first year of it, so obviously it’s a really cool thing.”

Of course, Tigers coach Gary Pinkel had forgotten that his squad would make their SEC Network debut at 11 a.m. Saturday against Central Florida at Memorial Stadium.

“Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it — and no disrespect,” he said. “As you well know, that network will be, when it’s all said and done, the best. That’s how they do things, but I guess we are. We’re just excited to be a part of that.”

SEC Network coordinating producer Steve Ackels is fine with Pinkel’s lack of awareness or fanfare.

“I think for the players, the teams and the (public relations), when they know that they’re on the SEC Network, I would hope that they just think they’re on a family channel of ESPN and it doesn’t really matter to them,” Ackels said. “Realistically, they could really be seen almost as much as they can on ESPN or ESPN2.”

By some measures, the SEC Network already is the most successful cable channel in U.S. television history.

It’s been widely reported that the channel, a partnership between the SEC and ESPN, had the second-highest market penetration at launch of any network ever, but Gracie Blackburn, manager of college networks at ESPN, said that’s not accurate.

“Actually, we were the most successfully distributed network for any cable channel, sports or entertainment, at launch,” she said.

Pinkel is thrilled about one aspect of the broadcast.

“It’s an 11 o’clock game,” Pinkel said. “I think our players and coaches like to get up and play. If they started games at 8 o’clock, I’d be fine with that too.”

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

Central Florida at No. 20 Missouri

WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday

WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Columbia

TV: SEC Network

Other story lines

▪ PASSING FANCY: Quarterback Maty Mauk set career records for completions (21), passing yards (325) and passing touchdowns (five) in a 49-24 win at Toledo. Led by senior Bud Sasser, who had a career day of his own against the Rockets with five catches for 121 yards and a touchdown, Missouri had three receivers with at least five catches for the first time last season at Indiana.

▪ TURNOVER STREAK: Missouri’s nation-leading streak of consecutive games with at least one turnover created reached 46 at Toledo. The Tigers ranked fifth in the NCAA in turnover margin at plus-1.1 per game last season. Currently, Missouri is tied for 19th nationally at plus-1.5.

▪ MURPHY’S CLIMB: With 204 all-purpose yards against South Dakota State and another 150 all-purpose yards at Toledo, senior Marcus Murphy has vaulted from seventh to fourth on Missouri’s all-time list. Only Jeremy Maclin (5,609), Brad Smith (4,419) and Devin West (3,824) have more career all-purpose yards than Murphy’s 3,545.

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