Mizzou football: What the NCAA is doing to the Tigers is criminal
Look, there’s nothing that needs to be said about Mizzou’s 24-20 loss to Tennessee on Saturday night that hasn’t already been said during this current 5-game losing streak.
The offense was atrocious, the defense gave up a career-high in passing yards to Jarrett Guarantano, and Barry Odom continues to be outclassed as a coach. So, instead of rehashing all of those talking points, let’s use this space this week to discuss something else.
Why are the Missouri Tigers still waiting for an NCAA ruling? The Tigers were involved in a scandal involving a tutor that took place several years ago, when no one on this roster was on the team.
The Mizzou administration cooperated with NCAA investigators, but the program still was hit with a 1-year postseason ban. Since that decision was handed down in January, the Tigers have been fighting it.
That’s right, since January, the Tigers have been trying to learn their fate with the NCAA. Since then, a ton of things have happened. I’m going to try to list a bunch of them right now, but please keep in mind that this is far from a full list:
- First and most egregious, Mississippi State has had an eerily similar situation happen, which involved players still in school. The Bulldogs took advantage of a new rule to negotiate a penalty that didn’t involve a bowl ban.
- Memphis basketball’s James Wiseman was suspended, took out an emergency injunction against the NCAA to play in a couple more games, then was still suspended for 11 games.
- Ohio State DE Chase Young was suspended for 2 games for accepting a loan to help his girlfriend pay for a plane ticket to come see him in the Rose Bowl. His case has now been fully adjudicated and his sentence completed.
- The NCAA has approved a plan to look into athletes being able to make money for their names, images and likenesses.
- An entire MLB season was played (162 games plus postseason and even spring training).
- Oh yeah, and Mizzou has had both a 5-game winning streak and a 5-game losing streak in this timeframe.
See? It’s not that the NCAA is unable to act quickly. It’s that they seem to be deliberately punishing the Tigers for some unknown reason. They’ve absolutely shown the capability to rule on a topic, hear an appeal and then make a final decision. Instead, with Mizzou, the organization is dragging its feet on that last part.
There is absolutely no reason Mizzou should be entering the final week of the 2019 regular season still waiting to learn its postseason fate.
At 5-6, Friday’s rivalry game at Arkansas is a huge one for Odom and his squad. It’s almost like the NCAA is waiting for the Tigers to gain bowl eligibility in order to deny the appeal out of pettiness.
That’s not a claim I make lightly, but is there really another explanation? Clearly, the NCAA feels that this Mizzou situation is something it needs to hammer the Tigers over, and it seemingly wants to make a statement with the timing of the final ruling.
If that is the case, that is absolutely embarrassing for everyone involved. If that’s not the case, then make a decision immediately, before the Tigers step foot on the War Memorial Stadium turf in Little Rock on Friday afternoon.
There are plenty of other factors at play in Mizzou’s slide from 5-1 to where it stands now at 5-6, but the looming NCAA cloud isn’t helping. The NCAA claims to be all about the “student-athletes,” but then it goes and pulls something like this with the Tigers.
Think about the seniors on the roster. They have absolutely no idea if they’re about to play their last game Friday. If they lose, then obviously the 2019 season is over, but what happens if they beat Arkansas? The seniors are just supposed to sit around waiting to see if they’re going to a bowl game? That’s ridiculous.
Honestly, Mizzou should just accept its bowl ban and then start cheating its butt off. Start fake classes like North Carolina. Make “strong-ass offers” to recruits like LSU basketball coach Will Wade allegedly did. Do whatever it takes to field a championship-caliber team.
Then, when the NCAA or the FBI or whoever calls you on it, deny, deny, deny. That strategy has worked for a bunch of schools already, and who cares if a title banner has to be taken down in the future because those wins have been “vacated?” You don’t take away fans’ memories or the rings the players get.
If everyone else is benefitting from actively thumbing their noses at the NCAA, it’s time for Mizzou to get in on the action, too. Since the NCAA seems to have conveniently forgotten all about the Tigers, maybe they could even get away with it.