Mizzou players: 'Our goal is a national championship'
For a team failing to appear in Top 25 after Top 25, Missouri is a confident bunch.
According to an article in the Kansas City Star, several Tigers said their goal for the 2014 season is to win the national championship.
“We’re not satisfied (with 12-2),” defensive tackle Lucas Vincent told the paper. “We didn’t win a national championship. … Going all the way is our goal honestly. We’ve worked really hard and we know our goals. We’re going to keep working until we get there.”
Let me stress that I’m a writer and an analyst, not a fan. But Missouri for the national title in 2014? It seems pretty lofty. Aim high, right?
Granted, with less than four minutes left in the third quarter of last season’s SEC Championship, Missouri held a lead and looked like a strong possibility for the final BCS championship. Setting a goal of winning the SEC East seems reasonable, given the fact that the Tigers are the defending champs. And if you represent a division in the SEC title game, the national championship automatically is part of the conversation.
“If we got that close last year, why not this year?” receiver Bud Sasser told the Star. “And why not get farther this year? We know what it takes, and we know that we’re going to have to show up and show out every game — and for all four quarters, too.”
There’s another perspective on the topic of brash predictions. Some people see statements from a team outside of the Top 25 like “we want to win the national title” as unrealistic. In competitive environments, though, there’s a school of thought that says why should you ever think anyone else is better than you?
Before I came to this website, I did a brief stint as a car salesman to supplement my income. I sold 12.5 cars in my first month, which is a good number for a rookie, well above the national average of eight and third at my dealership. But one of the veterans, a consistent 20-car guy, beat me by nine cars. At the sales meeting, the general manager and part-owner asked me, “Why did Tony sell more cars than you did?”
The boss was a big, loud, bully of a Mississippi man who fit most every stereotype in car sales. When I responded “because he’s a better car salesman than I am,” his eyes bulged. He wanted me to believe I was just as good, but that Tony was doing something different than I was. The reality was that he was better. One of my co-workers, Cornelius, answered the “right” way, but with conviction: “nobody’s better than me.”
It’s a matter of personality. Some people produce better by relying on practicality and realism. Others produce better by relying on confidence and setting goals that potentially are out of reach.
Missouri’s players appear to fall into the latter category.
“There’s a different kind of intrinsic motivation, because every year you have to find a new way to push yourself,” offensive tackle Mitch Morse said. “Last year, we were coming off a terrible season. … We had the intrinsic motivation that we had something to prove last year. We were a wounded animal, and we needed to come out and kick (butt).
“This year, we still have something to prove, but the intrinsic motivation is, ‘All right, we were this close (to playing for a national championship).’ But we didn’t meet the standard that we want to meet. Now, we’ve got to come out here and push even harder, because we know what it took to get through last year — and that was hard work. Now, we’ve got to come out with even more preparation and more hard work than last year.”
In other words, a goal of reaching double-digit wins isn’t so motivating when you’ve just won 12 the year before. The only way Missouri can accomplish more this year than in 2014 is by winning the SEC Championship, and really, who wants to set goals that are below what you did the year before?
According to Bovada, Missouri’s odds of winning the national title currently sit at 75/1. Crazier odds have come through. But factually, the Tigers are unlikely to win the national championship.
Missouri is 33/1 to win the SEC and 10/1 to win the SEC East, also according to Bovada. Georgia, South Carolina and Florida all have better odds.
It will be interesting to see how this Missouri team is perceived if it finishes, say, 5-3 in the SEC, wins nine games and takes third in the SEC East. Sometimes coaches and teams are shaped more by expectations than by results. Would that be a disappointment to Tigers fans? Acceptable? Something to be excited about?
At least in the players’ eyes, it appears that a third-place finish in the SEC East would be reason to be upset.