The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Drinkwitz' shoe collection is unmatched in the SEC

19 days ago
Kevin Scarbinsky
Photo: AP Photo/L.G. Patterson

It was quite the compliment. Greg Sankey didn't just advise everyone at the College Football Hall of Fame late Monday afternoon to peep the sweet Jordan-brand sneakers on the feet of Eliah Drinkwitz. As impressive as that pair was, Sankey wanted everyone in the room to know that the Missouri coach's shoe game stands out in quantity as well as quality.

"Eliah is the owner of the largest Jordan shoe collection of any FBS head coach," Sankey said. "We may have network programming around that."

Drinkwitz is known for being fast on his feet. His sense of humor comes with a sharp edge, as former Florida coach - and former Media Days sneaker king - Dan Mullen learned last season after an overtime loss at Missouri. A year after Mullen capped a Halloween win over Mizzou by wearing a Darth Vader mask to the postgame Zoom call, Drinkwitz struck back by flipping up his hoodie, pulling out a toy lightsaber and dropping this exit line: "May the Force be with you."

So of course Sankey concluded his playful introduction of the Missouri coach by saying, "We asked him not to wear his hoodie."

This was an open invitation for Drinkwitz to play along, and why wouldn't he? He may be the SEC's youngest head football coach at age 39, but he's just the second coach in Missouri history to produce bowl-eligible teams in his first two seasons in Columbia.

But instead of following in his own Steve Spurrier-like, Darth Visor Lite footsteps from last year's Media Days appearance, Drinkwitz sounded more like the current dean of the conference's coaches. Ten years ago, fed up with fastball offenses he had not figured out how to stop, Nick Saban asked, "Is this what we want football to be?"

Drinkwitz used his opening monologue Monday to survey the changing landscape and ask, "What do we want college football to look like moving forward?"

While it didn't have the same zing, his question resonated, coming as it did in a place dedicated to honoring the game's past. While he doesn't have the same gravitas as a future Hall of Famer 31 years older with seven national championships - who does? - Drinkwitz exhibited a genuine concern for the game befitting a much more experienced head coach.

And then, as if to remind people that he is the youngest coach in the league, he dropped a reference from "The Simpsons."

"I'm not the old man yelling at the clouds that we want to go back to the way it was," Drinkwitz said. "But I do worry and I do question what are the guiding principles for college football and athletics moving forward."

Oh, and about that shoe game.

"Yeah, I have no idea how many pairs of shoes I have," he said. "I would not like to be called out on the carpet on whether or not I have the largest (Jordan) collection. I know I don't. I know Tony Elliott probably does. I've seen his collection."

Can we get a Missouri vs. Virginia, Drinkwitz vs. Elliott bowl game? That would be fun. If Drinkwitz would play along.