ST. LOUIS — A slap to the face of the Missouri football team is on sale in the magazine aisle of your nearest neighborhood supermarket. For just $7.99, the Tigers can even take some of the sting home.
Yes, the preseason college football mags are on the stands. And yes, the glossy pages that quench the thirst of football fanatics during the dreaded summer drought are hammering Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel and his team harder than an unblocked Jadeveon Clowney.
Sporting News, which forecasts the Tigers finishing sixth out of seven teams in the SEC East, has this to say:
“Pinkel is 12 wins from becoming the all-time leader in coaching victories at Missouri — and may not be around long enough to get there. Missouri isn’t nearly ready on the lines of scrimmage to compete in the SEC, and Pinkel last season bungled the one thing (managing star QB James Franklin) he had going for him.”
Meanwhile, Lindy’s agrees with the sixth-place finish in the division, bets on the Tigers turning in a 5-7 season and adds this gem:
“Last year’s defensive meltdown was overshadowed by the problems on offense, but it’s that defense that needs to be better at trading punches with their SEC counterparts to have a fighter’s chance at a winning record.”
And don’t forget Athlon Sports, where there’s a similar lack of optimism in the ink spilled about Mizzou (a projected record of 5-7, 1-7 SEC). A grim sentence ends the “Final Analysis” section:
“After a clear step back in 2012, Missouri needs to move forward in 2013 or be left in the dust by their new conference foes.”
What is a team to make of such negativity from the supposed experts?
Probably nothing. The rule of thumb is to tune out noise like this. Ignore, and carry on. Coaches and players will tell you what is said and written about them doesn’t affect them — even though both often follow media-decided rankings and awards as closely as the keyboard punchers who churn them out.
Maybe Mizzou strength and conditioning coach Pat Ivey will buy up all the available boxes of the magazines and schedule a team weightlifting session to rip them apart. It would make for one killer forearm workout.
But here’s another idea, straight from the Tony Dorsett school of thought. If these magazines say your season will stink, do your damnedest to prove them wrong. According to the always-reliable Internet (and plenty of motivational T-shirts), it was the great NFL running back who dropped this fine line:
“You can turn the negative around and use it as a motivating force in your life. One of my biggest desires has always been to prove certain people wrong — to prove to them I can do it despite what they think or say.”
Bulletin board material is hard to come by these days. Need proof? How about the waves those “old-man football” comments former Mizzou defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson made in reference to Georgia nearly a year ago? The opinionated big man is now with the New York Jets, but his words are still biting the Tigers as they head into 2013. Just turn to page 150 of the Sporting News preview, and read:
“The team from the Show-Me State had big plans in 2012 to show the SEC what its slick brand of football was all about. Instead, the ‘old-man football’ powers of the SEC showed Missouri how far it has to go.”
It’s time for Mizzou to start its bulletin board. The Tigers should read that quote, and the ones mentioned above. They should cut them out, tack them up and let them burn.
That’s good motivation, and the Tigers can have some for the low price of just $7.99.
Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.