“So far, so good, so what?”

No, that’s not our editor’s critique of my work so far for Rock M Nation (although it would probably be a fair assessment). That’s actually the title of one of my favorite metal albums of all time by the great thrash-masters Megadeth.

Quick trivia question: Can you name the Big Four thrash metal bands? Answer at the end.

But now that we’ve reached the awkward place in time with no more football, I think that album title also sums up this Rock M football scribe’s feelings about what we’ve seen in the sport – and what’s to come down the pike.

Not in a negative way, mind you. Moreso from this standpoint: the 2023 season was stellar, but let’s run it back and do it again even better.

With that in mind, even though we’re in the off-season, there’s always plenty to discuss related to our beloved sport of college football, so I’m going to offer a periodic scattershot look at what’s going on around the country and how it can relate to Mizzou either directly or indirectly.

Without further ado – In case you hadn’t heard:

Mizzou Spring Game Set for March 16th

Coach Eliah Drinkwitz and company are set to begin spring football practice later this month (Feb. 28th is the date I’ve heard tossed around as the first practice date, but that’s not official). One thing we do know is that the annual spring game has been set for Saturday, March 16th on Faurot Field. No details yet on the game, so for those of you with an interest in getting a first glimpse at your 2024 Tigers, stay tuned and we’ll share more information as it becomes available…

NCAA Football: Troy at Missouri

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN is loving them some Tigers in 2024!

Some new and updated rankings have come out from ESPN, and they are digging Coach Drink’s squad for the upcoming season.

Mark Schlabach, a well-known writer for ESPN, has released a redux of his way-too-early 2024 pre-season rankings, and he’s moved Mizzou up to #7 from his initial take of #8. He actually had two teams (Alabama, Michigan) previously above Mizzou drop below the Tigers’ new slot, but then had one team previously below them move ahead (Notre Dame). Regardless, this is some lofty praise for Mizzou heading into a season that presents massive opportunities to grow the program’s national profile in the first season of the historic 12-team playoff!

Schlabach’s new rankings look like this: 1. Georgia; 2. Ohio State; 3. Oregon; 4. Texas; 5. Notre Dame; 6. Ole Miss; 7. Mizzou; 8. Penn State; 9. Alabama; 10. Utah; 11. Arizona; 12. LSU; 13. Michigan; 14. Oklahoma; 15. Florida State; 16. Tennessee; 17. Oklahoma State; 18. North Carolina State; 19. Clemson; 20. Kansas State; 21. Louisville; 22. kansas (proper capitalization emphasized); 23. Kentucky; 24. Miami, Fla.; 25. Texas A&M.

Rock M alum Bill Connelly has become kind of a big deal for ESPN with his SP+ analytics rankings. His system is based on a number of elements that I’m not smart enough to explain intelligently, so be sure to check it out for yourself if you want to understand it further. That being said, Connelly’s rankings have Mizzou at #11 nationally heading into 2024. His top-25 looks like this:

1. Georgia; 2. Ohio State; 3. Oregon; 4. Texas; 5. Michigan; 6. Alabama; 7. Penn State; 8. Ole Miss; 9. Notre Dame; 10. LSU; 11. Mizzou; 12. Florida State; 13. Texas A&M; 14. Oklahoma; 15. Tennessee; 16. Clemson; 17. Utah; 18. Kansas State; 19. Arizona; 20. Oklahoma State; 21. Miami, Fla.; 22. Iowa State; 23. USC; 24. Louisville; 25. Wisconsin.

Two-Minute Warning and Helmet Comms Coming in 2024?

Rules Committee meetings are on the horizon, and there are reports of support for some changes that might be impactful for the game. Officials are asking college football to consider adding a two-minute warning to the game, ala the NFL. Referees feel that adding this stoppage each half would help them as they administer rules related to the late game clock. It does fly in the face of the recent changes that kept the clock rolling after first downs until the last two minutes of each half (implemented for 2023). One of the reasons stated for making that previous change was to speed the game up for players and for fans. Now, we’re going to add two more lengthy timeouts? Not sure it’s needed, in my opinion. Don’t we have enough TV timeouts as it is?

On an aside, don’t you just hate this type of sequence in a game: Touchdown followed by an extra point, followed by a three-minute TV timeout, followed by a kickoff for a touchback, followed by another interminable three-minute TV timeout. There’s no better way to kill excitement in a game like this. But I digress.

Another potential change won’t be as outwardly noticeable but could really be helpful to teams from a communication and strategy perspective. Helmet communications and sideline video tablets are going to be discussed as potential additions in 2024. Again, this is following the lead of the NFL, where a designated player on each side of the ball will have a speaker installed into their helmet to relay play information up to a certain point in the play clock. In theory, this could help deter sign stealing that was such a nuisance topic in 2023. The tablet thing seems harmless as well, why not give coaches and players a chance to get a better feel in-game of what’s taking place on the field?

Opposition to the latter concepts is likely to come from the Group of Five schools, as the cost for this technology won’t be cheap. A topic for a different day, but could this be another bit of impetus that eventually leads to an eventual split within the FBS ranks?

$7.8 Billion – A figure even Dr. Evil would have loved

How does one know that ESPN is the true mover and shaker in college football? Because they just reached an agreement with the College Football Playoff to extend the TV rights to all games through the 2031-32 season for the mere sum of $7.8 billion – with a ‘B’. That’s a six-year extension worth $1.3 billion per year.

This extends the current agreement, which has two years remaining and is worth over $600 million per year. Not a bad pay raise for everyone!

The deal isn’t finalized yet, but it’s been leaked publicly so the figures should be solid, once the deal is approved after CFP officials work out the finalizing of issues related to the format and revenue distribution to schools.

Mizzou to Earn a Home Playoff Game in 2024, According to one Outlet

Longtime national writer Brett McMurphy, who now works for The Action Network, has crafted his prediction for what the first-ever 12-team College Football Playoff might look like in 2024. Tiger fans, take note, he’s got Mizzou with the No. 8 overall seed, which means we would see a home playoff game at Memorial Stadium this year! How amazing would that be? Here’s McMurphy’s projected bracket:

On one side, he’s got #9 Penn State at #8 Mizzou, with the winner advancing to the Sugar Bowl to play #1 Georgia. That pairs with #12 Boise State playing at #5 Texas, with the winner advancing to the Fiesta Bowl to play #4 Utah.

On the other side of the bracket, McMurphy predicts #11 Michigan playing a first-round game at #6 Oregon, with the winner there moving on to the Peach Bowl, where #3 Florida State would await. Lastly, he’s got #10 Alabama traveling to #7 Notre Dame, with the winner playing the next round at the Rose Bowl against #2 Ohio State.

I don’t know about you but sign me up for that action!

SEC Win Totals – You Pay Your Money, You Take Your Chances

For the adventurous types who like to dabble in sports wagering, season win totals are beginning to get posted by various online books. Here’s the over/under numbers established so far for the SEC:

Alabama – 9.5

Arkansas – 5.5

Auburn – 7.5

Florida – 5.5

Georgia – 10.5

Kentucky – 6.5

LSU – 9.5

Mississippi State – 4.5

Mizzou – 9.5

Oklahoma – 7.5

Ole Miss – 9.5

South Carolina – 5.5

Tennessee – 8.5

Texas – 10.5

Texas A&M – 8.5

Vanderbilt – 2.5

That’s a huge one-year jump for the Tigers’ win expectations, as Mizzou was tagged with a 6.5 win over/under heading into 2023. It’s fun to see the wise guys coming around. Have to say it’s also fun to see Arkansas and Florida with so little regard, so let’s hope Vegas knows! Is this where I say – Always Gamble Responsibly?

Penn State Pondering Paterno Platitudes

Lastly, reports have surfaced from State College, Pa., that the Penn State Trustees are debating naming the playing field after legendary/sullied Coach Joe Paterno. It’s not my place to add to that debate as my surface-level knowledge of his legacy doesn’t add anything of value to the mix. However, it did get me wondering what might be down the line here in Columbia when the Department of Athletics chooses to do something to honor former Tiger legend Gary Pinkel.

Not equating the two situations here at all – the Paterno discussion is controversial to most, while GP’s will be welcomed. It will just be interesting to see what MU officials decide to do. The field, of course, is already named after fellow hall of famer Don Faurot. You probably can’t name the stadium, because you need to save naming rights for potential sponsorship money. There’s already a statue of Faurot outside the north stadium gates. Both indoor practice facilities are already named. In hoops, Mizzou named the court at Mizzou Arena after Norm Stewart and gave him a statue outside the building, so what kind of precedent has that established? We shall see…

With all topics, please don’t take my word for it. I’m just a regular slappy with opinions that may or may not square with yours. I encourage you to do your own research to shape your thinking instead of leaving it to this resident metal head who has listened to a lot of loud music and might be a little unbalanced if we’re being truthful.

Trivia answer: If you correctly named the Big Four metal bands as Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer, you have my utmost respect. If you’ve seen all four live, I’m quite jealous, as I never got around to seeing Slayer, alas.

That’s it for today. If you’ve read this far, you deserve a reward, but all I have to offer is my admiration! Hope you enjoyed, holler at me with ideas or topics you’d like to see discussed here in future musings.



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