After two weeks ranked No. 2 in the nation earlier this season, Tiger tails are drooping badly. Mizzou is 7-6 in its last thirteen games and 1-4 against ranked opponents during that span. Back in November, no one could have predicted the collapse that awaited Snyder and his Tigers. Back-to-back wins over Iowa and Alabama at the Guardian Classic at Kemper Arena had fans salivating for a monstrous battle against top-ranked KU.
The monster turned out to be a nightmare when Kansas terrified Missouri 105-73 on ESPN January 28. The Tigers dropped out of the ESPN-USA Today coaches' poll this week for the first time this season, despite their win over Virginia Sunday. As Snyder's third season in Columbia melts away toward his third middle-of-the-pack finish in the Big 12, it is obvious that he is far too much hair and hardly any 'do.
Quin Snyder isn't the only luckless looker in Missouri athletics. Mike Alden, in his fourth year as MU's very preppy athletic director, is also starting to resemble a bum in chic clothing. Alden's athletic program is spending money at an unprecedented rate while the school's football and men's basketball teams continue to spiral downward.
Gary Pinkel's pigskin Pussycats were upset by lowly Bowling Green in his home opener and were trashed 55-7 in their season-ending loss at Michigan State. The beating in East Lansing was reminiscent of what got Larry Smith canned. Pinkel's team looked unprepared, uninterested and out-manned, and worst of all, the players appeared to quit before halftime.
Snyder, the 35-year-old golden boy from the East, is already starting to tarnish. A product of Mike Krzyzewski's incredibly successful Duke program, Snyder was heralded as a can't-miss hire three years ago. "We feel fortunate that we have been able to attract a coach with such impressive credentials," Alden said.
The "credentials" didn't include any head-coaching experience, although he had shown some ability to recruit talent to Duke. He sure looked irresistible though, with his wavy locks and law and business degrees. But we're finding out he looks a lot better in the store window than on our American Express bill.
One of Alden's first moves as Mizzou's AD in 1998 was to increase the athletic budget by a record $3.5 million to boost MU's spending from eleventh in the Big 12 to sixth. Alden has spent millions from private donations and tax dollars on the football and basketball programs.
In addition to negotiating hefty salaries and perks for Pinkel and Snyder, Alden has overseen construction of a baseball stadium, a renovated weight-training center, a sports-medicine facility and an ultramodern $13.1 million press box for Faurot Field that has been paid for by the sale of 32 private suites to avid Tiger fans. A new $75 million basketball arena will soon be under construction.
Is it too soon to expect results? Hell no! Bill Snyder took over a moribund Kansas State football team and has fielded bowl teams every year for a decade. Larry Eustachy took over an Iowa State basketball program in 1999 that had never won a conference title and won the Big 12 crown his first two years.
Maybe the cruelest comparison for Tiger fans is Joe Castiglione, the athletic director who left MU for Oklahoma, hired Bob Stoops to lead the Sooners' football program and was rewarded with a national championship in his second season.
After accepting the MU job in 1998, Alden said, "The recent dormancy of the Missouri program over the last fifteen years made it an even more interesting opportunity." Alden has only added financial debt and four years to that dormancy. It's time for the Show-Me State's largest university to show up.