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Speaking Out: A Christmas gift in black and gold wrapping

Speaking Out: A Christmas gift in black and gold wrapping

“Christmas came early around these parts this year.”  At least that’s how an older gentleman from Chillicothe expressed it after Missouri beat Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium.
   
I really like football.  But football in itself is not interesting unless you can identify with a team.  
   
It’s not hard to identify with the current version of the Missouri Tigers football team.  This is a good group of young men with a work ethic well suited to the blue-collar characteristics of the state of Missouri.  These are kids who know their place.  They appear responsible and respectful.  There are no “hot dogs.”  They appear grounded in reality.
   
No one called them out for greatness.  A mere winning season with a trip to a bowl game would have generally satisfied the faithful.  A ranking in the top 25 would have been an added bonus with, of course, the requirement to beat Kansas an expectation.
    
So much for underachieving!  A solid ranking in the top 10, a week as No. 1 in the country, a Heisman candidate chase (or should that be Chase?), a Big XII Coach of the Year with the requisite beating of a Kansas team who, of course, was also on the ride of its life.  To top it off, a trip to the Cotton Bowl as a New Year’s treat — one can only call this a grand run.
   
But it’s the class and the style that have been most impressive.  Those come from a coach, a coach who, although stubborn (a trait that most Kent State grads have), was able to learn that change is good and the right values build a right team.  Coach Pinkel deserves a lot of credit.  He is clearly molding men.  They show dignity, they show respect, and they are worthy of their fans’ pride.  They perform well in the classroom.  Their general sportsmanship is well balanced in a violent sport.  Besides performance on the field, his young men appear to be ready for performance after they leave Old Mizzou.
   
When I started this article, I intended to litter it with names of the many great performing athletes who shared a wonderful ride with us.  But the fact is, this is a team, rare in the modern sports world.  And as their top offensive field general reminds us at every interview, it’s not just him but all of his teammates who make a victory.
   
Many of the phrases in football are trite clichés, but these young people have scored points with their fans in areas even more important than field performance.  They are a team, and they lead others.
   
They have truly represented the University of Missouri and the great state it serves.  They have put the proper spin on the business of college athletics.  They have shown our state and the nation the quality of the Mizzou experience:  its class, its capability for success, and an education in the right things.
   
Coach Pinkel, thanks for the early Christmas present.  We are proud of what you and your team have done.
  
David Shorr practices  law and government relations at Lathrop & Gage. The views expressed are his and do not reflect the views of Lathrop & Gage. He can be reached at (573) 761-5005 or [email protected]

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