All posts by Seth Merenbloom

What We’ve Learned About SEC Football

We’re going into week five of the college football season. There have been some exciting games played in the SEC including Texas A&M beating Arkansas in overtime and Florida’s miraculous wins over Kentucky and Tennessee. But what have we learned so far?

Butch Jones

Tennessee is 3-1 but the Volunteers could just as easily be 1-3. They had an amazing comeback win against Georgia Tech and hung on for dear life against UMass. Georgia Tech is understandable. But UMass? I would have thought that after bungling the end of the game against Florida that Butch Jones and his team would have come out prepared against UMass. No. I was wrong. Jones didn’t have his team prepared for UMass.

Here’s what we know – Butch Jones is in over his head at Tennessee.

Sure he’s won nine games a year at Tennessee but he just as easily could have led his teams to double-digit win totals. Jones is a capable coach. He wouldn’t have had success at Cincinnati and Central Michigan if he couldn’t coach. But now that the Tennessee brand helps him land four- and five-star talent, he seems to have become complacent.

Alabama Is Still Really Good

We’ve been told about the demise of Alabama. They tell us that there’s a quarterback controversy. They tell us that the defense is on par with previous Crimson Tide units. We’re told that Nick Saban’s success at Alabama is the result of the SEC taking a few steps back.

Here’s what we know – Alabama is still really good.

Don’t believe the jealous rhetoric. The defense that everyone is questioning was strong enough to knock Deondre Francois out for the year. The quarterback controversy that we’re told about is wishful thinking. Jalen Hurts is doing what’s asked of him. And besides. When was the last time a Saban-led Alabama team was built around the quarterback? As for the quality of the SEC? Maybe it has taken a step back but Alabama is as good as it’s ever been.

Just ask Vanderbilt.

Where Have All The Coaches Gone?

Yes. The conference has taken a step back. The SEC East hasn’t fielded a competitive team in the SEC title game in what seems like forever. The SEC West appears to be Alabama And The Six Dwarfs. So what’s the problem?

Here’s what we know – The conference lacks quality coaches.

If you want to find the good teams in any conference, just start with the coaches. The SEC East has Kirby Smart, Jim McElwain, Derek Mason, Mark Stoops, Barry Odom, and Will Muschamp. While I think McElwain is a fantastic coach with tons of potential, that group is nothing to write home about. As for the SEC West, we find Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn, Dan Mullen, Ed Orgeron, Bret Bielema, and Matt Luke (for now). Saban is obviously Saban, Malzahn’s seat grows hotter each season, and Mullen was the hot new commodity until Smart and Georgia beat the Bulldogs down. As for Orgeron, Bielema, and Luke? Who in need of a coach would be beating their doors down? Nobody, that’s who.

This is the biggest problem in the conference. Only a couple of teams really want to invest in a football coach. It’s not acceptable for your AD to say, “Well, we can’t get Saban, or Fisher, or Swinney, so we might as well save a few bucks and go cheap.” This isn’t acceptable.

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikipedia

 

 

Barry Odom Inherited A Mess From Gary Pinkel

Saturday, September 16 was a horrible, no good, very bad day if you’re a Missouri Tigers football fan. There’s not much else that can be said about losing at home to Purdue by a score of 35-3.

Can it get better? I hope so. Will it get better this season? I have my doubts.

My doubts extend all the way back to when Barry Odom was hired. I wasn’t the only one who voiced concern about a successful assistant coach with no college head coaching experience being tapped to lead an SEC program but I was certainly in the minority.

After drubbing its sacrificial FCS opponent, Missouri followed that performance up with a questionable loss to South Carolina and an absolute abomination against Purdue. Those putrid performances against Power 5 teams coupled with the questionable firing of defensive coordinator Demontie Cross have pushed even the staunchest Odom supporters to the brink.

[Merenbloom: Barry Odom And The Missouri Tigers Shouldn’t Be Locked Into Drew Lock]

Over at RockMNation, Bill Connelly brings up a number of relevant points for discussion when he stated that Missouri’s winning culture has vanished; it’s not all Barry Odom’s fault, but it’s on him to fix it. Or else.

Connelly stopped just short of stating who some people consider to be the real problem when he made this passive aggressive statement:

That’s not really this coaching staff’s fault — it inherited what it inherited. Obviously better coaching could lead to more success, which would in turn provide the evidence needed for good player leadership. But this is what happens when a winning culture stops winning. It becomes very difficult for even an experienced coaching staff to get that ship turned back around.

“It inherited what it inherited.” Connelly doesn’t come right out and say it but that’s an indictment of Gary Pinkel. It’s often times said that the mentality of the players is a direct reflection of their coach. So when observing the apparent lack of leadership on this team, we are to some degree being met with the image of Pinkel. And I have to say that this isn’t the first time that I’ve heard Pinkel’s leadership and dare I say character called into question.

Pinkel may be the real problem at Missouri but Connelly is correct about it being on Odom to fix. We see this sort of thing in corporate America all of the time. A CEO retires, moves on to their next opportunity, or is fired and their replacement has the responsibility of making the culture their own. Seasoned leaders have the confidence and experience to be successful in this often times difficult transition. Odom may have the confidence but he’s lacking the experience required for an undertaking like the one at Missouri.

A person doesn’t hire themselves and former AD Mack Rhoades signed off on Odom. And part of the reason that Odom was Rhoades’ choice was that Odom was Pinkel approved. There are times when being the preferred candidate of the retiring coach is a smart choice. This wasn’t one of those times. Rhoades would have wanted a brand new culture if he knew how Pinkel was running his program. And that would have required hiring someone who had no ties to Pinkel. Or, possibly, Rhoades didn’t care. He did high-tail it out of Columbia not long after selecting Odom.

The triumvirate of Odom, Pinkel, and Rhoades is exactly why I believe Jim Sterk will pull the plug on Odom’s tenure as head coach. He won’t clean house in-season because that would be foolish. Sterk gave former Missouri basketball coach Kim Anderson one last season and he’ll do the same for Odom. This will also give Sterk time to identify and fully vet his candidates before making his selection. Sterk played the long-game with Cuonzo Martin’s hiring process and I have no doubt that he’s taking the same approach with Odom’s successor.

There are skeletons in the Odom-Pinkel-Rhoades closet. I’m not the one to out them but I’m confident that Sterk will clean it all up.

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Barry Odom And The Missouri Tigers Shouldn’t Be Locked Into Drew Lock

Barry Odom’s first 14 games as head coach of the Missouri Tigers have been turbulent. His team went 4-8 in 2016 and he’s off to a 1-1 start in 2017. When a team goes 5-9, I could create a hypothesis for any number of reasons for the abysmal results. I’m choosing to focus on two.

Leadership and quarterback play.

Odom’s leadership ability should be questioned based on how he has handled the defensive deficiencies of this team. Few people took issue with the Odom’s hiring of Demontie Cross as defensive coordinator. Cross is the dreaded True Son, but he was a highly qualified True Son. The glaring defensive issues of the past two years were due in large part to a change in scheme. Odom allowed Cross to change the style of play from the attacking style that had been recruited for to a read-and-react style. It didn’t work during the first half of the 2016 season and Odom mandated a midseason change. Not only that, but Odom assumed defensive play-calling responsibilities.

These changes gave us all reason for hope in 2017. Missouri fans thought we had seen the last of the failed read-and-react scheme, but rumor has it that it was on full display during the first half of the game against Missouri State. You remember that game. It’s the one where the Tigers game up 43 points, and 492 yards. The silver lining in that game was that the second half looked significantly better than the first half. Word on the street is that the defense went back to its attacking style in the second half.

Defensively the team looked better against South Carolina. There were still issues in the back-seven, but the lineman were creating pressure. The reason Missouri lost to South Carolina was not the fault of the defense. But that didn’t seem to matter to Odom as he fired Cross on Sunday afternoon.

This was a firing of convenience. Cross hasn’t been solely responsible for the defense since the beginning of the 2016 season. Odom forced a scheme change and, more importantly, took control of the in-game play calling responsibilities. Why Odom would have agreed to a scheme change when he was promoted to head coach is a real head scratcher since Missouri had won two SEC East titles on the back of attacking defenses. But it was a decision that was made. The wrong coach was fired when Cross was let go but Odom wasn’t going to fire himself. Cross became the sacrificial lamb being offered to the fans.

Now that you’ve read all of that, I’ll tell you what the real issue is. The quarterback play of Drew Lock.

Like Odom and Cross, Lock is also a True Son. He’s the son of former Tiger linebacker Andy Lock and coming out of high school, he was considered to be the kid with the golden arm. The problem being that he doesn’t have much going for him once you get past all of that arm talent.

There are times that the hype surrounding Lock is believable. The problem is that he looks Heisman caliber when he’s playing the likes of Delaware State and Missouri State. Against Power 5 opponents, Lock has averaged 188 yards per game, completed 49% of his passes, and has thrown 13 touchdowns to go along with 18 interceptions.

Not. Good. Enough.

Just look at how he played against South Carolina. He went 14-32 for 245 yards. Lock also threw one touchdown and two interceptions. A 43% completion percentage is atrocious. Even if we give him credit for the four blatant drops by the receivers, he still only completed 56% of his passes. And don’t forget that Missouri was up 10-0. Then the special teams kicked off to Deebo Samuel. Bad move. That momentum swing was capped off with a Lock interception.

Not. Good. Enough.

I considered Lock to be the real question mark going into this season. Was he going to be more Landry Jones in Josh Heupel’s offense? Or was he going to be more Blake Bell? If he was more Jones, his completion percentage would be in the 60s. If he was more Bell, it would be in the 50s. Completing 60% of his passes is where he needs to be in this offense. But Lock is a 50% passer who dips into the 40% range.

Again…Not. Good. Enough.

Both the defensive and quarterback issues are on Odom. He took responsibility for the defense but fired Cross anyway. Making that change two games into the season means that it should have been done in the off-season.

As for Lock? Odom seems to be content with the True Son as I’ve yet to hear about the backup quarterback warming up. What’s that going to take? A 30% completion percentage?

The defense is now squarely on Odom’s shoulders as he no longer has Cross around to take the criticism from the fans. He gets more leniency from the fans when it comes to Lock since many of the fans love the kid-with-the-golden-arm-who-can’t-hit-the-broadside-of-a-barn. The problem for Odom is that Jim Sterk isn’t afraid to fire a True Son.

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

Kevin Sumlin Is On Borrowed Time At Texas A&M

Texas A&M’s game against UCLA had everything. It had an electrifying first half for Texas A&M and it had an unbelievable second half for UCLA. This game even had a pimp cane.

In the end, Josh Rosen and UCLA erased a 34-point deficit to beat the Aggies 45-44 in the closing seconds of the game.

For Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, this game encapsulated what his Aggie career has become known for in the SEC and that is complete meltdowns. Texas A&M started 2016 off with a 6-0 start only to finish the season at 8-5. 2015 was similar as the Aggies started off 5-0 and then limped to a record of 8-5. The story was the same in 2014 as Sumlin shot out of the gate with a 5-0 record only to finish with a record of 8-5. The best year in the SEC for Texas A&M was 2013 when the Aggies went 9-4.

Sumlin’s Aggies have become notorious for fast starts and broken down finishes. The loss and performance against UCLA could have come against just about any other team and it would have been easier to accept. Jim Mora Jr. is one of those coaches, like Sumlin, who seems to always do less with more. Don’t forget, as these teams went into halftime, UCLA fans were ready to fire Mora on the spot. By the end of the game, everyone was proclaiming Josh Rosen to be The Chosen One and it was Sumlin’s job that was up for debate.

It’s one thing for fans and social media experts to call for a coach’s job. Everyone not named Saban is arguably on the hot-seat. But placing a coach on the hot-seat takes on a completely different dynamic when a Board of Regents member, Tony Buzbee, is the one issuing the lack of confidence vote.

What Buzbee saw against UCLA is what all of us witnessed from 2014-2016 and that is an inability for Sumlin’s teams to finish. Not only that, but Buzbee’s statement opens a can of worms against Sumlin that many people were already quietly grumbling about; maneuvering for a more lucrative contract (in the face of under performance), the mishandling of player controversies, and the inability to develop the premier recruits that Sumlin brought to College Station.

Buzbee is only one vote, but he can’t possibly be the only Board of Regents member who feels this way. And even if he is the only Board of Regent who currently feels this way, which I doubt, you know he is talking with the other members to get them on his side. Sure, Sumlin has a huge salary but scraping together the money to buy-out his contract is doable. And Buzbee and his cohorts can come up with the money to hire a guy like Chip Kelly or Les Miles. It’s Texas. It’s football. They’ll make it happen.

I’ll say this in defense of Sumlin; Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and defensive coordinator John Chavis are getting off the hook easy after the loss to UCLA.

The Aggies were running at-will against UCLA in the first half. There was no reason to stop running especially with a 34-point lead. But that’s what seemed to happen. And it’s not like the Aggies were having success passing the ball.

John Chavis is a highly respected defensive coordinator, but his second half defense was a complete dumpster fire. Chavis’ defense allowed Rosen to orchestrate a miraculous comeback that was capped off with a fake spike touchdown pass. To add additional insult to this mind numbing loss is that the Texas A&M defense fell for the fake spike even though the clock was already stopped.

This loss to UCLA was a total team effort. Responsibility not only falls on Sumlin but also Chavis, Mazzone, and the players. But Sumlin is the head coach so ultimately the responsibility rests on his shoulders. I’m seldom in favor of in season coaching changes and I’m not advocating for Sumlin to be let go today. Having said that, Sumlin was on a simmering seat before the season started and now at least one Board of Regent is publicly casting his lack of confidence vote. Another 8-win season isn’t going to cut-it in College Station. I’d be surprised to see Sumlin still employed the day after the final 2017 game. Short of winning the SEC, I don’t see how he is still at Texas A&M in 2018.

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Don’t Ignore Blake Anderson And The Arkansas State Red Wolves

When talking about the mid-major level of college football programs, we all love teams from the American Athletic Conference and the Mid-American Conference. Teams like Miami-Ohio, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan, Houston, Temple, and Memphis capture our collective attention year in and year out. And based on the success of those teams, it just makes sense.

But what if I told you there was a not-so-sleeping giant of a program hiding out in the Sun Belt Conference? Say hello to the Arkansas State Red Wolves and Blake Anderson.

The best thing that Arkansas State has going for it is that the leadership knows how to hire football coaches. If you’re a fan of a bigger program and are looking for your next head coach, start with the Red Wolves. Blake Anderson is the current coach and he was preceded by Bryan Harsin, Gus Malzahn, and Hugh Freeze. Harsin, Malzahn, and Freeze all proved to be one-year wonders before jumping to Boise State, Auburn, and Mississippi respectively. But who can blame those power programs for going after those coaches? In the three-year period of Harsin, Malzahn, and Freeze, the Red Wolves went 27-10. Since taking over in 2014, Anderson has put together a record of 24-15.

It’s only a matter of time before Anderson jumps to a bigger stage. He’s stayed at Arkansas State longer than his predecessors, and I can only assume that the resume he’s putting together is attracting the attention of search firms and athletic directors. The 2017 schedule is what you would expect from Arkansas State with games at Nebraska, at home versus Miami, on the road against SMU, and what most would consider a sure win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Of those games, the game that could be a differentiator for Arkansas State and Anderson is that trip to SMU.

Like Anderson, SMU coach Chad Morris is considered to be an up-and-coming coach who’s a star in the making. The difference being that SMU is a sexier program to be at and Morris has Clemson on his resume. Don’t forget, Anderson has an impressive coaching association of his own; he stood beside Larry Fedora at both Southern Mississippi and North Carolina. If Anderson leads his Red Wolves to a victory against Morris’ Mustangs, I would expect his name to begin appearing on lists touting the next great college football coach. Truth of the matter is that Anderson’s name should already be on those lists.

Not that it should matter to hiring committees, but Anderson should benefit from the on-field success that Harsin, Malzahn, and Freeze have all had at Boise State, Auburn, and Mississippi. When millions of dollars are invested in coaches, lineage matters. When programs like Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arkansas, or Arizona have coaching vacancies, Anderson should be a candidate. Remember, people are becoming infatuated with Morris and his 7-17 coaching record at SMU. Why? Probably because he spent time at Clemson.

But a coach who’s gone 24-15 is all but ignored because he coaches in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Call it the Clemson effect I guess.

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Arkansas State

James Franklin Was A Wizard At Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt football is poised to have a breakout season in 2017. Do I have your attention? Good. Because that statement is worthless.

Predictions are opinions. And like opinions, everyone who follows college football has their set of predictions. The team of CBS college football personalities has Vanderbilt pegged for a last place finish in the SEC East. Others, like Kate Pearson Halyburton, have Vanderbilt going 9-3.

Like I said, predictions are like opinions. I won’t laugh at the idea of Vanderbilt going 9-3 because I’ve said that I believe Utah and Oregon will play in the Pac-12 championship game. But I would like to place Vanderbilt football within the context of what its reality is.

Head coach Derek Mason is a fine coach. Don’t let his 13-24 record at Vanderbilt fool you. In his three full seasons in Nashville, 2016 was his best as his team went 6-7. 2016 finished off with a loss in the Independence Bowl. There’s no shame in going 6-7 at Vanderbilt.

The reason there’s no shame in it is because historically that is what the Vanderbilt football program is. A sub-.500 program that flirts with mediocrity. The overall record of Vanderbilt football is 595-606-50. See? Right around .500.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible to win at Vanderbilt. James Franklin went 24-15 as the Vanderbilt head coach. He had back-to-back nine-win seasons and his teams went to bowl games all three years he was in charge of the program.

Now here is what was so remarkable about Franklin’s accomplishments at Vanderbilt. Prior to his arrival in 2011, Vanderbilt had won nine games once and that was in 1915 when Vanderbilt was a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). Vanderbilt owned the SIAA as it won 12 conference championships. But, like me, you had probably never heard of the SIAA until reading this paragraph.

As for Franklin’s three consecutive bowl game appearances? Vanderbilt had never been to back-to-back bowl games let alone the three-peat prior to Franklin coaching in Nashville. What Franklin accomplished at Vanderbilt makes him arguably the best coach to ever be in charge of the program. And that’s saying something since he was only there for three seasons.

Franklin was the equivalent of a wizard. He not only turned Vanderbilt into a nine-win team, but he went on to bring respect back to an embarrassed Penn State program. He is a coach that is not only up to any challenge, but is also a coach who can turn a cow pie into a pot of gold. That’s what wizards do.

Mason has done a decent job at Vanderbilt. Really no better or worse than most other coaches not named Franklin. But to predict a nine-win season for Vanderbilt would be like me picking the Missouri Tigers to reach the College Football Playoff. You’d need to be wearing black and gold colored glasses to make either prediction.

But the season is still young. Vanderbilt will have to start its season of hope by beating Middle Tennessee on the road. Sure, Vanderbilt beat Middle Tennessee last season, but the Blue Raiders are capable of beating teams from the SEC. That’s right. I’m looking at you 2016 Missouri Tigers.

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Cuonzo Martin’s Missouri Basketball Team Gives Tiger Fans Reason To Be Excited

They say that the Earth was created in six days. Not too shabby. Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin may have that beat if we’re to believe both the experts and Missouri fans.

When Jim Sterk hired Martin to rebuild the Missouri basketball program, I’m not sure even Sterk envisioned Martin’s masterpiece being created in such short time. Martin hired Michael Porter Sr. to sit along side him on the bench and the rest was a domino effect. Porter Sr.’s blue chip recruit son, Michael Porter Jr., pledged his commitment to the Tigers, highly regarded point guard recruit Blake Harris jumped onboard Martin’s party bus, Jeremiah Tilmon was wooed away from Illinois, and, finally, Porter Jr.’s brother Jontay reclassified for the 2017 season and joined his father and oldest brother.

[Merenbloom: What Mizzou Assistant Michael Porter Sr. is All About – Family Values and Humility]
[Merenbloom: Missouri’s Jim Sterk Got His Man]

Martin inherited a team that went 8-24 in 2016. With only two players taller than 6’8”, the roster Kim Anderson left for Martin was short on height and talent. And now the 2017-18 team has multiple blue chip recruits to go along with six players who are taller than 6’8”. On paper, this is the most formidable roster Missouri has had since the late 1980s. Emphasis being placed upon ON PAPER.

Missouri went from SEC doormat to being considered contenders to win the conference. Not only that, but Missouri is one of the preseason favorites to win the national championship. Everyone needs to pump the brakes on Martin’s party bus.

Let’s at least see this team play before anointing them as a dream team. Martin’s team will certainly be talented, but it’s going to be a talented and young team. No matter how talented youth is, it’s still youth. A learning curve should be anticipated as these kids transition from high school and AAU ball to major college play.

The Tigers start the season at home against Iowa State. While the Cyclones aren’t considered to be an elite team this year, they should still be considered to be a tough test for a team as young as Missouri is. We’ll learn a lot about Martin’s team in this game but we shouldn’t base the entire season on this one game.

I expect this team to be good, but I also expect this team to have growing pains. Being able to score shouldn’t be a problem for this team. It’s on the defensive side of the court that I anticipate this team showing the most growth as the season progresses. Defense has a lot to do with being disciplined and knowing your opponent. Players coming right out of high school are used to being the biggest players on the court. This also means that these players are used to physically dominating their opponents. That won’t be the case most nights in the SEC.

Missouri fans should be excited about this team but the fans should also expect to see some frustrating moments. When those moments happen, just remember how the last three seasons went. It may take a few months for this team to mature and hit its stride, but once it does, it could really make some noise in the NCAA tournament. Be excited, but a trip to the Final Four shouldn’t be considered a foregone conclusion. But it sure is nice to be a Missouri basketball fan with legitimate anticipation and hope for an upcoming season. It’s been too long.

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Best Missouri Tiger Athlete Of All-Time is an Easy Choice

When former Georgia offensive lineman Matt Stinchcomb was asked who he thought were the best athletes to have played football in the SEC, it sparked a conversation between Bird and myself.

Stinchcomb opted for former Alabama linebacker Derrick Thomas and former Georgia running back Herschel Walker. Thomas and Walker were solid choices, but Bird and I disagreed. Take a listen to the podcast if you haven’t already.

This conversation sparked an internal conversation of my own. I’m a Missouri fan and I began wondering who the best athlete to play at Missouri was. This is all based on opinion. Nothing purely objective here. But here’s who that player is to me.

My choice is Phil Bradley.

Bradley played both baseball and football at Missouri. As the quarterback for Missouri, he was the Offensive Player of the Year three times and he held the record for total offense which stood for 10 years. Bradley was also half of a talented Missouri backfield that included James Wilder. That duo contributed to some great wins including victories against nationally ranked teams from Notre Dame and Nebraska. And as noted by others, just imagine what Bradley could have accomplished in the spread offenses of today.

I became a Phil Bradley fan long before I knew about the University of Missouri. Before I followed college football and discovered the Missouri Tigers, I was a rabid baseball fan. My favorite team was the Baltimore Orioles and Bradley played for my Orioles from 1989-1990. See? I guess I was destined to be a Missouri football fan.

As a professional baseball player, Bradley was a solid hitter and dependable fielder. Not spectacular but certainly good enough to have a seven-year career in the major leagues. 1985 was arguably his best season as a baseball player as he was selected to the All-Star team and hit a career-high 26 home runs.

In a different era of sports, Bradley easily could have played both professional baseball and football. But in the early 1980s, there just wasn’t a market for 6’0″, 180 lbs. quarterbacks. That was a time before dual-threat quarterbacks. And the early to mid-1980s was even a time before the run-and-shoot offense.

Part of what makes Bradley the best athlete of all-time at Missouri, is that he was truly ahead of his time. He excelled collegiately at both baseball and football. And he carved out a respectable professional baseball career.

The mark he made on the Missouri program was only strengthened after his playing days were over. During the 2009-10 softball season, Bradley served as a volunteer assistant on Ehren Earleywine’s softball team. That team was the one that put Missouri softball on the map as the team won the Big 12 Tournament and finished 7th at the Women’s College World Series.

Bradley had a significant impact on Missouri sports as a baseball player, football player, and as a coach. In fact, he excelled at all three levels.

Other former Tigers who could have made the cut for best Missouri athlete were Kellen Winslow, James Wilder, Harry Ice, and Paul Christman.

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Jimmy Emerson/Flickr

Bassoon Bands and Breaking Into Graceland; This College Football Bucket List Has Everything

I don’t have a bucket list. This probably comes as a surprise to many, if not all who know me. You see, I’m considered to be a planner. I’m just not a “spur of the moment” kind of guy. Well, truth be told, I’m only a “spur of the moment” kind of guy when it comes to big decisions. Stuff like getting married and buying houses. Crazy, I know. Sometimes it’s like I don’t even know myself.

Continue reading Bassoon Bands and Breaking Into Graceland; This College Football Bucket List Has Everything