A Mizzou fan mourns and wonders ‘what if’

col-reid-foster (2)For the second time since 2007, the Missouri Tigers entered the final weekend of college football’s regular season with a chance to win and secure a spot in the national title berth; 545 rushing yards from Auburn later and the dream is dead.

The pain of the defeat worsened with the later news of Ohio State losing, giving birth to the ultimate “what if?” scenario. Mizzou fans will likely never stop wondering “what if” defensive coordinator Dave Steckel shifted away from a 3-man defensive front against the Auburn rushing attack. Or what if the offense converted more than 2 of 12 third downs so that drives could be sustained and provide rest to the defense?

But more than anything, Mizzou fans will spend countless hours wondering what if the Tigers never get back to that spot again?

Many MU fans also support the St. Louis Cardinals MLB franchise. When the Cardinals lost in the World Series, it stung but most fans realized the club would be back for years to come the way things are set up for them. That level of cushion doesn’t yet exist for Mizzou.

Yes, this is the second time since 2007 that Missouri has been in this position but now playing in the SEC, so much had to go right this year for MU to come out of their division. How often can you plan for the two division favorites (Georgia/Florida) to lose their starting QBs in addition to several other key players (Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, UGA’s top 3 receivers, DT Dominique Easley, etc)? Or for the best player you face all season (Johnny Manziel) to be hurt when you play him? How often can you plan to finish tied for 7th (out of 123) nationally in fewest turnovers, also best in the SEC East?

Simply put, you can’t.

Having broadcasted the game in Athens, I can assure you that a healthy UGA team knocks off Missouri, especially at home. The Tigers did improve in 2013, but this is still a program that can’t expect to contend in the nation’s best conference annually.

For the record, there’s nothing wrong with where Mizzou is. Gary Pinkel has transformed MU into the program it’s destined to be: Consistently win between 7-9 games, with the occasional 10 or 11-win season when everything goes right.

Basically what I’m saying is Mizzou’s peak is to be just good enough to break your heart.

The Tigers were in their finest form Saturday.

Reid Foster is a Myrtle Beach High graduate and a journalism student at Missouri.

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