When is the last time a team that finished in the Top 5 in both major polls opened the next season unranked?
That’s what is facing Gary Pinkel and his Missouri Tigers football team this year. After struggling their inaugural season in the SEC, the Tigers took a giant leap last year to win the SEC East, and make no mistake about it, they were playing for a spot in the national championship game when they met Auburn in the SEC championship.
But nobody expects them to repeat, and honestly, who can blame the skeptics? The Tigers lose 13 starters and all of the significant playmakers on both sides of the ball from last year. And we also know that Pinkel is not much of a recruiter.
So a fall off is expected, but is it bad enough to knock them all the way out of the Top 25 to start the season as the Coaches Poll did? Particularly when they do have a returning quarterback who was 3-1 when filling in as the starter last year?
It’s also worth noting that the Tigers didn’t just win 12 games last year. With the exception of Texas A&M, nobody came within one score of them in their victories, and their only regular season loss to South Carolina was by a field goal in overtime. Not to mention they were in the game with Auburn until the fourth quarter.
To do all that, this team would’ve had to have enough depth, going through a grueling SEC schedule, that it could replace its starting talent enough to be ranked again, right? Were the Tigers that thin?
Gary Pinkel has many positions with guys who have potential, and there is more experience than you might think on the team. But there’s still a lot of questions he’ll have to answer.