October 28, 2008

Media Day Notes: Back to business

The Missouri Tigers made sure everyone knew when last week's game was. Over and over the Tigers talked about "5:30 on Saturday." Judging by the 58-0 shellacking the Tigers put on Colorado, the approach worked.

"First of all, it wasn't a gimmick. It was probably my frustration," Gary Pinkel said. "We took it very, very seriously. We don't ever talk about the future opponent around here ever. But all the stuff that's out there, watching yourself on ESPN all the time and all that's out there now, walking around campus and all the things that happen, my big thing was working with the seniors and our staff, we need every ounce of your focus on that moment...I didn't ask the players to go win. I didn't ask them to do that. I asked them to go out and play hard and give great effort."

Pinkel had mentioned repeatedly that there were signs the Tigers' preparation had lacked for the Texas and Oklahoma State games. That didn't happen last week. However, Pinkel got a laugh when he was asked if he could sense that by looking at his players before the game.

"You can tell how players play," Pinkel said. "If I did that, it would never happen. I could have everybody walk in front of me and look me in the eye and I'd straighten them out."

Jokes aside, there was a clear message behind Pinkel's message.

"This is a violent game," Pinkel said. "Players have got to get their mind right so they don't get hurt. You've got to out there and be focused and your intensity level has got to be up in order to compete. And you've got to do it play after play after play."

Willingham out at Washington

Just moments before Pinkel's press conference began in Columbia, word leaked out that Tyrone Willingham would resign at Washington. Pinkel spent many years in Seattle under Don James and the subject of the Huskies' head coaching job came up at the press conference.

"That's a distraction," Pinkel said. "I'm going to focus on this football game. That's all I'm going to do."

Speculation will likely run rampant over the next few weeks. Certainly there will likely be interest from Washington, as Pinkel has already been listed as the top target of Washington supporters. But the chances appear slim that Pinkel would want to take on a rebuilding job that may be even more difficult than the one he walked into in Columbia.

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