If you're looking for the next Steve Spurrier, at least during talking season, look no further than Eliah Drinkwitz. Like the Head Ballcoach, the Missouri coach tutors his own quarterbacks and calls his own plays, but it was his playful sense of humor and pocket full of zingers that captivated the crowd Thursday and earned a comparison to Darth Visor.
In his first visit to SEC Media Days thanks to last year's COVID cancellation, the second-year Missouri coach opened his set with an immediate nugget about the potential of Oklahoma and Texas leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.
"Hard-hitting questions coming out of yesterday," Drinkwitz said. "I think one of them was whether or not the Horns Down is going to be a 15-yard penalty in the SEC in the future. So I asked Commissioner (Greg) Sankey in the hallway, and he gave me a strong rebuttal by saying, 'No comment.' So we'll see where that goes."
Here was Drinkwitz on the potential of Missouri renewing its old Big 12 rivalry with Oklahoma: "I kinda like the rivalry we have with Arkansas. I don't remember the last time they beat us."
For the record, in his first encounter with the Hogs, the Arkansas native extended Mizzou's Battle Line Rivalry winning streak to five with a 50-48 thriller. That was an encouraging part of a debut 5-5 season for Drinkwitz that also included a win over defending national champion LSU and the first victory in five years over Kentucky.
The Tigers will try to raise their level this year with the return of four specialists and 16 starters, including quarterback Connor Bazelak. He
was named SEC co-freshman of the year last season along with Auburn running back Tank Bigsby by the league's coaches.
Since last season doesn't count against a player's eligibility clock thanks to COVID, Drinkwitz quipped, "We're trying to get Connor back-to-back SEC freshman of the year awards."
"I thought last year he really played within himself," Drinkwitz said. "I've got to give him more opportunities in the red zone to make plays. I've got to put more trust in him."
Offensive lineman Case Cook has that trust in his quarterback. He scoffed at the notion that Bazelak is a game manager.
"Game manager? I don't even know what that means," Cook said. "He's a gamer. He shows up on game day and has a winning attitude. He's a stud."
Drinkwitz is a big fan of the senior Cook and his swagger.
"That's just Case, man," Drinkwitz said. "Dude sported a mullet half his life. He has extreme confidence in who he is."
Funny. You might say the same thing about Drinkwitz.
"He loves the media and the media loves him," senior defensive lineman Akial Byers said "An impression of him: He's a very energetic guy. He's a great coach. He just did a fabulous job with coaching us up, changing Mizzou, keeping the tradition the same but adding his own style and swag to it."
Swag? You should've seen his Air Jordans. Call him the New Ballcoach at the New 'Zou.