In little more than a month, the Missouri Tigers will begin preparations for its 2019 season with starting quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Following another season in which the Tigers showed improvement under Odom, Mizzou faces yet another challenge, which is keeping its recruits and scholarship athletes following a scathing bowl game suspension handed down by the NCAA.
Once again, at every turn, when something goes right for Missouri, there seems to be an opposite effect that takes the Tigers down a peg-or-two. The Tigers got a little reprieve from the NCAA’s negative backlash, as former Clemson-turned-Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant reassured fans, coaches, and teammates alike, that he has no plans to leave Mizzou.
The university and Athletic Director Jim Sterk, believing the ruling to be overreaching, have filed an appeal to the NCAA, considering Missouri was aware of the allegations and fully cooperated in the organization’s investigation.
During the time in which the case is under appeal, the Tigers’ suspension from postseason play in baseball and softball is temporarily lifted, unless the NCAA modifies, reverses, or upholds its decision. How much time that buys the Tigers is unknown, but I would be surprised if it lasts through the summer.
From this fan’s perspective, I agree that Missouri shouldn’t be exempt from the possibility of some form of repercussion. However, I agree with most, that the NCAA has levied lesser penalties against other programs for more significant grievances in the recent past. At the very least, the Tigers could be placed on a probationary period to ensure compliance with NCAA standards going forward.
When the NCAA handed down its sanctions earlier this year, my initial thought was how this might affect Bryant’s decision to play for Mizzou, and if he might reconsider his options, since he would be allowed to transfer out.
The odds of the Tigers playing for the National Championship are highly stacked against them, so already, Bryant was aware that Missouri isn’t in the mix for a national championship, at this point. With one year of eligibility remaining, the move to play in Columbia made sense, as it allows him to start at quarterback, play with some talented athletes, and he likes the overall atmosphere at Mizzou.
Considering the overall picture, a post-season bowl game suspension may not be the end of the world for Missouri unless, of course, the Tigers manage to deliver the unexpected and play for the National Championship. So for all the talk about Bryant looking to leave, I’d be surprised if he does.
Regardless of the NCAA’s future ruling, I’m nonetheless looking forward to what should be an exciting 2019 season for the Missouri Tigers football program.