Bulldogs Beat

Despite two SEC East titles, Missouri still getting little respect

HOOVER, Ala. -- Over the past two years, Missouri has been the Rodney Dangerfield of the SEC.

Two years ago, the Tigers were picked to finish sixth in the East at SEC Media Days. A year ago, they were predicted to place fourth. Both times, Missouri went on to win the SEC East. And more than likely, Missouri will be picked by the majority of credentialed writers at this year's SEC Media Days to finish in the middle of the pack once again.

As Missouri center Evan Boehm said, it can be a bit befuddling as to why his team isn't getting the same kind of love as others in the conference.

"It gets a little upsetting because yeah, we play the same football as South Carolina, as Alabama, as Auburn," Boehm said. "We've made it to the SEC Championship two years in a row now and we're trying to make it a third. We have a target just as big as anybody else on our back."

This year, Missouri returns three starting offensive lineman and quarterback Maty Mauk, though a slew of skill position players will be broken in. On defense, only five starters return as defensive tackle Harold Brantley will miss the year due to injuries sustained from a car accident. Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel isn't too concerned with what the pundits think and said he's only concerned with the end product.

"I think it probably bothers my players a little bit more than me," Pinkel said. "I don't really talk about that. I don't really go there. I'll tell you, how you get respect is graduating your players, developing our students into young men, and winning football games. That's how you get respect. You want more respect, do it at a better level and win at a higher level. I just know this, we're proud to be part of the SEC. It's a great league, man. You've got to buckle it up and go play and deliver every Saturday. Remarkably competitive. You earn all those things, and that's the way I was taught, and that's the way I handle our football program."

As for Mauk, who played his best football down the stretch of the 2014 season, he said it ultimately doesn't matter what those outside of the Missouri program think.

"I don't care about the respect," Mauk said. "That's something you can't control. You want to be respected but after a couple of years it's disrespect. I'm not worried about it."