Thursday, May 28, 2009

Missouri columnist, fans need to lay off the adult Kool-Aid

“We don’t rebuild, we just reload.”

That’s a common axiom you hear with most any great team at any level – high school, college or pro. Keep in mind, as a Nebraska fan, I saw a program that fit that description at one time and could on its way back to fitting it. Such programs use that statement based on the premise that the foundation and culture of their organization is so strong that despite losing quality players, the team will remain a contender.

Dave Matter, who is a columnist for the Columbia Daily Tribune (Missouri), suggested in his Memorial Day column that the Missouri Tigers football program has reached the stage where it “reloads” rather “rebuilds.”

Matter’s opening paragraph read:

“A shortened version of ‘Mondays’ on count of the holiday, but this week we’re talking about reloading. When your gun runs out of bullets, you don’t manufacture a new weapon. You simply reload. (Especially if you’re living in Columbia these days.) When it comes to college football, the line of demarcation that divides the nationally elite programs and the pretenders is the capacity to reload rather than rebuild.”

Keep in mind, the Tigers lose quarterback Chase Daniel, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Kaufman to graduation. Those players triggered an offense that put up staggering numbers.

I would not necessarily put Matter into the same category as some overzealous Missouri fans because he later made the distinction of reloading pertaining to the offense rather than the program as a whole. Nonetheless, I think Matter and a segment of Missori fans have been enjoying too much adult Kool-Aid or funny cigarettes if they think the program has reached a stage where it “reloads.”

Let me get this straight. Missouri has never won a Big 12 championship and only won two divisional titles in the past two years. They lost their record-setting quarterback and all three starting wide receivers for this year which contributed heavily to those two divisional titles. So, what then is the reason we should suddenly put Missouri into the “reload” category, might I ask? Let's wait for the next few years to play out before we declare that Missouri “simply reloads these days.”

I think a lot of people in Columbia are going to be in for a rude awakening. Missouri has never “reloaded” in its entire history. Memo to Missouri: Put together five consecutive nine-win seasons and then maybe you can say stuff like that. Missouri fans also don’t seem to get that they owe as much to Nebraska being in the tank for their success as to the talent increase at their own school. Keep in mind, they creamed two teams coached by Bill Callahan and another (the 2008 team) still had many Callahan remnants. They also lost to a 2002 Nebraska team that went 7-7 and a 2004 Husker club that went 5-6.

While the 2007 and 2008 teams were decent for Missouri, how would they have fared against Nebraska in its prime? From 1993 to 2001, how many games would either of those teams have won against Nebraska? My guess is that the 2007 Tigers would have won three games at the most (1998, 2000 and possibly 2001) and last year's team probably only would've been able to beat an injury-ravaged 1998 Husker team. In other words, the greatest Missouri teams ever would have still been hammered by Nebraska's average teams of the 90s.So the concern in Columbia shouldn't be so much on whether or not they can “reload,” but when will Nebraska be doing it again.

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