ST. LOUIS –“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind …”
Drop that crystal ball. Flip the calendar. Bang the drums of change. It’s almost a new year, so that means it’s fine to slip on your black and gold without flushed cheeks.
Let’s stuff 2012 in a safe, dig a 30-foot hole below the Columns and dump that pain below fresh concrete. You want hard times? Ol’ Mizzou knew them well. You want rumors? You want scandal? The Tigers produced enough for TMZ to crack open a CoMo bureau.
Let’s take a walk through the valley of shadows, shall we? A 30-4 basketball team, which earned its second Big 12 tournament title in four years, was sent packing in the NCAA tournament’s Round of 64 by No. 15 seed Norfolk State. A football program that had won at least eight games in each of the past six years belly-flopped on its dive into the Southeastern Conference, going 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the league, and saw the end of its seven-year bowl streak. (The only two SEC teams that lost to the Tigers, Kentucky and Tennessee, canned their coaches at season’s end.)
To think, those were just the sirloin steaks of a feast to forget. Here are the sour sides:
*Coach Gary Pinkel announced a separation from his wife, Vicki, after nearly 40 years of marriage.
*Junior quarterback James Franklin (right shoulder/left knee/concussion) became less reliable than a 1958 Cadillac sedan.
*Blue-chip freshman wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was suspended for one game after he was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana in a parking lot near Memorial Stadium.
*Junior defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was suspended for one game for treating class as an optional exercise.
*Senior guard Michael Dixon, thought to join junior guard Phil Pressey to create one of the nation’s best backcourt duos, wisely chose to end his career elsewhere after two rape allegations were made public within a week.
*David Yost, a Pinkel disciple since their time together at Toledo, chose to leave his post as offensive coordinator for personal reasons after four seasons.
Full yet? Better not be, because that list doesn’t include the junk food available for dessert.
There were back-alley whispers and message-board rumors not fit for day’s light. Some had Pinkel driving his Harley-Davidson into the sunset after eight bowl appearances in 12 seasons at the university. Others had him tending to more private and pressing concerns. When given the chance to address the chatter in November, Pinkel said, “I love what I do. I don’t know where all (the resignation rumors) started. I heard that. My daughter called me, ‘I hear you are retiring.’ I said, ‘I am?’ That’s not me. I love what I do. I couldn’t wait to get into work on Monday morning.”
It’s all enough to make you throw up your palms and scream, “STOP!” So please, just cool it. Enough with the nonsense. Let’s remember some of the good, for sanity’s sake:
A.) Coach Frank Haith has more than passed expectations so far, now more than a year into his Missouri tenure after arriving from Miami. He inspired talent last season that underachieved under former coach Mike Anderson. After earning the Associated Press’ Coach of the Year award for his work in his Mizzou debut, Haith has the Tigers holding a 10-2 record after falling just short at UCLA.
B.) Coach Tim Jamieson guided the baseball program to its first Big 12 tournament title, after four previous appearances in the event’s final. The No. 6 seed Tigers beat Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas and Oklahoma in five days to earn an appearance at an NCAA Regional for the eighth time in 10 years. It marked Missouri’s first baseball conference championship since winning the Big Eight tournament in 1980.
C.) The athletics department received a $30 million private gift from the Kansas City Sports Trust to aid a $200 million facility improvement plan. The Memorial Stadium vision includes an upper-bowl addition on the east side with more than 5,000 general-admission seats and a club level with more than 1,000 seats. There also will be press-box renovations, north concourse improvements and other structural repairs.
“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind …”
Or relived. Or repeated. Please.
For the most part, this was a 2012 to forget under Jesse Hall. But that’s why we wipe our memories clean each Jan. 1. A new year. A new start.
Thank goodness for that.
You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.