July 24, 2007

Can Pinkel and Missouri handle the pre-season hype in 2007?

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The pre-season expectations in 2004 were very similar to the way they are in 2007 for Gary Pinkel's Missouri Tigers.

Like 2004, the Tigers are picked either first or second in almost every single pre-season publication to capture the Big 12 North title.

However, the only problem in 2004 was the Tigers failed to match the expectation level put out for them and finished the season 5-6. After starting out 4-1, Mizzou lost five games in a row and nearly all the blame was pointed Pinkel's direction. As the Tigers addressed the press at Tuesday's Big 12 Media Day in San Antonio, Pinkel flashed back to 2004 and talked about how far he's come as a coach since that season.

"I just don't think I did a very good job coaching that year," Pinkel said. "I don't think I handled our team very well. We had a lot of things going on with our football team and I'm responsible for it. I don't think that team reached its full potential, and you're looking at the guy responsible for it."

Senior All-Big 12 tight end Martin Rucker is one of a few contributors left from that 2004 Tiger team.

Rucker said things have come a long way since that season and he feels like Pinkel and the rest of the program have taken major steps since the late season debacle they had in 2004.

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