HOOVER, Ala. — Following back to back down seasons in Columbia, in which Missouri failed to go bowling after coming off repeat trips to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game, there’s a vocal crowd wondering if the Southeastern Conference made a mistake adding Mizzou to the league.

If you are among the anti-Mizzou group, whatever you do, don’t mention that to senior linebacker Eric Beisel. The very question appeared to anger the Tiger defender during the league’s latest Media Days event.

“I was just asked if Missouri belongs in the SEC — dang right we belong in the SEC. We’ve earned that respect,” Beisel emphatically stated to reporters.

Considering the Tiger linebacker has achieved a level of success current Tennessee and Georgia players only dream of, Beisel has a point.

“I’ve played for four teams here, and two of those teams went to the SEC Championship,” Beisel continued. “We’ve had two down years, but we fully expect to get back to the top. I want to avenge the legacy. We want to attack the line every single rep, one play at a time.”

While his team may have struggled to initially handle the transition from legendary head coach Gary Pinkel to his successor Barry Odom, the Tigers showed enough signs of life late last season that optimism has returned to Columbia. Beisel was able to personally bring back some swagger to the program heading into the comeback win over Arkansas — something he was eager to discuss during his Wednesday media availability.

While his pregame comments were made to put the outside world on notice, his trip to Hoover for Media Days also follows the script the Mizzou linebacker laid out for himself heading into his college career.

“I expected to be here today (for SEC Media Days), that was on the agenda,” Beisel admitted. “It’s confidence, some people call me confident, cocky, you can call me arrogant, but you can never call me selfish. I’m here for my team, I’m here for my coaching staff, I’m here to represent the state of Missouri, how the state of Missouri deserves to be represented.”

What’s next for Mizzou? According to Beisel, despite lowered expectations outside the program — expect the SEC Media to predict the Tigers near the bottom of the East division heading into 2017, the expectations inside the locker room are a different matter.

“We’re focused on summer ball right now, but we do have high expectations for this team and for this season,” Beisel concluded. “Perfection is the goal, and greatness is the expectation.”