The storylines in the Southeastern Conference are numerous this fall. Coaches on the hot seat, outstanding freshmen arriving on campus and the conference winning the first ever College Football Playoff are among the items being discussed.
Media and coaches alike talk about the best teams in the league. They mention the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Auburn Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks. They talk about teams that need to improve, like the Florida Gators and the Arkansas Razorbacks.
And lost, somewhere in the middle, are the rest of the teams. And for some reason, the Missouri Tigers find themselves in that category.
Think back to last season, when Missouri not only proved it could compete in the mighty SEC. The Tigers actually won the SEC Eastern Division and played Auburn for the SEC Championship. When thinking about the 2013 season, most fans would remember that the Georgia Bulldogs had numerous injuries, that Florida had an awful season and that South Carolina came up short once again. They would remember all of those things before they would remember that Missouri won the division.
Tiger fans hoped that proving they belonged would earn the team more respect. But if preseason predictions are any indication, that’s not the case. At SEC Media Days, Missouri was picked to finish fourth in the Eastern Division in 2014.
Granted, the Tigers have suffered a number of losses. Gone are stars like Michael Sam, James Franklin, Henry Josey and Dorial Green-Beckham. Replacing those players won’t be easy.
Head coach Gary Pinkel does not let the talk bother him, just like he didn’t let it bother him last season. Pinkel and his staff know they must continue to win games, and that’s their plan. Whether anyone notices or not is their business.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.