MOBILE, Ala. — I have no dissenting words for the Missouri football program right now, in the wake of quarterback Maty Mauk’s dismissal from the team.
New head coach Barry Odom has a monumental task ahead of him, replacing a coaching legend (Gary Pinkel won 118 games with Missouri and claimed back-to-back SEC East titles in 2013 and ’14), while also guiding the Tigers through the aftermath of last season’s tension-filled boycott threat (not related to athletics), which garnered national attention on the MU campus.
As such, Odom shouldn’t feel obligated to keep Mauk in the fold, if the senior-to-be QB might have been a hindrance to the Tigers’ growth.
Especially during a so-called rebuilding phase.
Earlier this week, Mauk was suspended from the Tigers program, after a controversial video linked the Ohio native to alleged drug use. And on Thursday, Odom went a step further with the discipline, removing Mauk (4,373 yards passing, 46 total TDs from 2013-15) from the team altogether.
Odom draws kudos here on three fronts:
1) Odom will now approach the quarterback spot at Missouri with a relatively clean slate, essentially putting the competitive onus on starting contenders Drew Lock (1,332 yards passing, four TDs in 2015) and Marvin Zanders, among others.
Granted, this puts the Tigers in a short-term bind in the ultra-competitive SEC; but it should also accelerate the long-term development of Mizzou’s next entrenched passer.
2) Odom has sent a clear message that no one player rests above the welfare of the team.
3) If Mauk has truly cleaned up his act as a functioning member of society, as some of his former Tiger teammates might attest, then he can still make something of his college career. Mauk has time to craft a solid plan of finding a new school, via the transfer rule.
It bears mention: The Tigers (5-7 in 2015) may have dropped Mauk from the squad … but that doesn’t mean the coaches, players and support staff will stop helping the former Parade All-American work through his personal troubles.
It’s one of the many unheralded perks of team sports: Family and brotherhood, through good times and bad.
And over time, Mauk will hopefully appreciate his new working envirnoment — wherever that may be.
Jay Clemons, the 2015 national winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year” (Cynopsis Media), has previously written for SI.com, The National Football Post, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports.