Posted: 11:40 am Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Missouri winning the SEC East? Still hard to believe 

By Mark Bradley

The team from the Show-Me State showed the SEC. (Butch Dill/AP)

The team from the Show-Me State showed the SEC. (Butch Dill/AP)

HOOVER, Ala. – The coach of the reigning SEC East champion took the podium this morning, and it still comes as a surprise that said coach is Gary Pinkel of Missouri. Not that Pinkel isn’t good at his job. (He demonstrably is.) But even now, Missouri’s achievement hasn’t been afforded its due. What the Tigers did was astonishing.

The SEC is a snooty place. (Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.) SEC folks believe the best football, if not the only real football, is played in the Deep South. Missouri isn’t located in even the Shallow South. It’s as Midwest as you can get. For the Tigers, who figured to add more to the SEC in basketball than in football, to win the East in Year 2 as a conference member deserved to resonate more than it has.

Why hasn’t it? Probably because Auburn’s worst-to-first rise, built on the strength of the season’s two most famous plays, trumped Missouri’s feat for drama — and also because Auburn beat Mizzou 59-42 in the SEC championship game. But also because the East, at least to those in the Deep South, wasn’t so much won as lost.

Florida got hurt and went 4-8. Georgia got hurt and went 8-5. South Carolina, as ever, lost the game it couldn’t lose. (To Tennessee, which would finish 5-7, in Knoxville.) Missouri barely registered until it came to Athens and beat Georgia on Oct. 12, and beating Florida the next week a lot of folks expected the Tigers to spit the bit. Sure enough, they lost to South Carolina in overtime the next week, which meant they’d have to win out to hold on. To their immense credit, they did.

In 2012, its maiden SEC voyage, Missouri went 2-6 in conference play, the two victories coming against Tennessee in OT and Kentucky. Four of the Tigers’ league losses came by 21 or more points. They seemed, in a word, overmatched. A year later they graced the Georgia Dome on the first Saturday in December and gave Auburn a go until the fourth quarter.

It would be nice to report that the season ahead looks to be a time when Mizzou could consolidate gains. Alas, that won’t happen. The Tigers are without quarterback James Franklin, running back Henry Josey, receiver L’Damian Washington and the hugely heralded wideout Dorial Green-Beckham, who was booted from the squad. The defense is missing Michael Sam, the SEC’s co-player of the year, and Kony Ealy, who was nearly as good.

Pinkel makes no apologies for his program — he noted that Missouri ranks among the nation’s 10 winningest programs over the past eight years, even with its “crummy” 2012 season thrown in — but almost nobody believes his Tigers will repeat as division winners. On the contrary, Missouri figures to be picked fourth in the East behind Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

Which doesn’t mean that Missouri’s improbable SEC East championship didn’t happen. It did. Kudos all around.

More Media Days fun and frolic:

From Tuesday: There’ll be no sudden rise for Jones’ fallen Vols.

From myajc.com: At 69, Spurrier can see success without SEC titles.

Also from myajc.com: Auburn’s Malzahn will have a tough time topping 2013.

From Monday: SEC Media Days – way too much of a dull thing.

115 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

Will somebody please tell me if the AJC fired Schultzie?


Dawg350
Dawg350

UGA will finish 15-0! We will be healthy...mason will prove all of his doubters wrong!

slydawg
slydawg

Missouri has just as many rednecks as any other state in the South. Research: Missouri Compromise of 1820. Just cause it's "midwestern" doesn't mean the flavor changes at all. Ditto for Illinois.

P_The_Ricker
P_The_Ricker

Mizz had a great season last year and I expect that they'll finish no worse than 4th in the east this year......but let's not over-exaggerate their season from last year.  their match-ups against the big 3 in the east were not "astonishing."

- UGA just came off the game at TN where it lost 3 of its better skilled position players (marshall, bennett & scott-wesley), which doesn't even account for the absence of gurley or mitchell

- UF was dealing with a disaterous season of their own involving injuries

- SC was allowed back in and won a game that should never have been in question

I have respect for Mauk and Pinkel, but I don't expect any chance of us seeing duplicated success from last season.  7-5, which is still a good season considering all that they lost from last year.

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

There was absolutely no defense played in last year's SEC title game. 59-42? That's a college basketball score

AlternativeDawg
AlternativeDawg

Ummm the SEC East is really bad lately. Vandy could win it at any year the way everyone has played.

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

Missouri did so bad in 2012 nobody took them serious which was a huge mistake. It also proves how by changing just a few things in a game is the difference of a win or lose. Missouri will not sneak up on anyone this year. If they win the East this year it will be earned. 

96JB
96JB

" show me" again THIS year and I'll believe. Dawgs win it this year at 11-1.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Bradley! What happened to your liberal whiner goofball buddy, Schultzie?


Domina8r
Domina8r

@Dawg350 What's all of this "we" crap?  You don't even know what state GA is in.

Dawg350
Dawg350

96jb

We might slip up and lose 1..... But I'm gonna say 15-0 baby! Glory to ole UGA!

TampGator1
TampGator1

@Wilbo 


He is doing what all the other "liberals" are doing.  He is busy reading an enlightening and intelligently written book instead of being brainwashed by bimbo talking heads on FOXNews. 

TampGator1
TampGator1

@Hangonsloopy 


Better look under you bed for Michal Sam, Sloopy.  He might be owning you tonight from under that bed, or a liberal will.  Be sure to check before closing those eyes.  We are all out to get you.

Dawg350
Dawg350

You need a full body lobotomy for being a coward!

Dawg350
Dawg350

I'm a dawg and we are going to win it all you loser! Go dawgs! Tech sucks!

Dawg350
Dawg350

Sure I do...they're a school in a then who destroys tech every year

slydawg
slydawg

Exactly. And MB claims to be a journalist. ..lol

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

@Hangonsloopy @C-Kirk

The year before Missouri was 2-6 in Conference play and most of the loses were not close. Georgia was playing Missouri at Georgia last year and our Coaches and players did not practice thinking they could lose and the Coaches were too relaxed the week before the game. It is human nature. The SEC is so hard when a team like Georgia plays a much weaker SEC opponent historically it is very easy for the players and Coaches to slack off thinking it will be an easy win. Missouri threw it in our face last year. If Missouri wins this year at Missouri it will be earned. Georgia gas a completely different and new mindset than in the past. Pruitt is the best thing that has happened at Georgia in 30 years. I just hope the difference in philosophy won't take until the second year to see the results. 

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

@Hangonsloopy @C-Kirk Because nobody expected them to be any good. That's how you "sneak up" on teams. When teams don't take you as seriously and you play lights out on them.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@Dawg350 


I am totally shocked by your prediction for the Dawgs.  15-0.....who would have "thunk" that Georgia would win the NC, become 14-0 at that point, and then challenge and then beat the NFL Super Bowl Champs 62-0 for the World Tittle?  15-0....Baby! 

RockyTopp
RockyTopp

@Dawg350 Is there an English Professor somewhere who can decipher exactly what 350 Pounder posted?  "a school in a then"???? WTF is that????? What a moron.

Dawg350
Dawg350

You're a sock puppet....Michael SAMs sock puppet....he has you in his back pocket...lmao!

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@DawgGoneIt 

Wow - I just learned a new excuse from UGA fans - "The Dawgs lost because we didn't think the other team was good".

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

@TampGator1 Dummy. 12 game regular schedule + SEC title game + playoff game win + national title win = 15-0. 

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Hangonsloopy 

My guess is 2007 - assuming you are talking about kindergarten graduation.

Dawg350
Dawg350

The year before you graduated Ohio state

Dawg350
Dawg350

You are nothing but a varmint troll....book it!

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

@PaulinNH @DawgGoneIt Ha ha ha ha.

That is a good one.


Considering that UGA fans always believe they will win the MNC and go 15-0 before the season starts, any loss will be because the "other team played lights out because UGA didn't think they were very good".

Dawg350
Dawg350

You have been to a meth lab though.