Missouri hires search firm to assist in new AD hire

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As Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin prepares for the process to hire a new athletic director, he’ll get some help from one of the world’s preeminent search firms.

Long-time athletic director Mike Alden decided he will step down on Aug. 31 after 17 years at the University of Missouri.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Dave Matter acquired a copy of the contract between the university and Korn Ferry International and laid out the details.

According to the terms of the contract, Korn Ferry’s fees are non-contingent and nonrefundable and are equal to one-third of the total first year’s estimated compensation for the AD position Missouri fills, which includes base salary, estimated or guaranteed incentive bonus, sign-on bonus and equity compensation. The parties agreed to an initial retainer fee of $75,000, to be billed in three installments. After the search, the parties will reconcile any outstanding fees. The firm is also reimbursed for all administrative support and research services, which are billed at 8 percent. The firm’s final fee, including all fees, will be capped at $200,000, according to the contract.

Korn Ferry’s Global Sports Practice recently helped in the hires of Jim Harbaugh to Michigan, Jim McElwain to Florida and Dan Quinn to the Atlanta Falcons.

According to Matter, some of the potential candidates for the position are Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades, Texas A&M senior associate athletic director Jason Cook, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork, Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock and Missouri deputy athletic director Doug Gillin.

Missouri will be without its second-leading receiver for Citrus Bowl

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The Missouri Tigers will be without their second-leading receiver, Jimmie Hunt, for the Citrus Bowl against the Minnesota Gophers. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter reported Hunt underwent shoulder surgery Wednesday.

Hunt was second on the team in receptions (40), yardage (698) and receiving touchdowns (7) this season. The senior is also coming off the best game of his career against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game. Hunt amassed an impressive 169 yards after beating the Alabama secondary deep multiple times.

Without Hunt in the lineup, the Tigers’ spread offense will feature a new slot receiver.

The two receivers Missouri’s head coach mentioned have caught a total of five passes this season. Otte, a senior, is the experienced option, but Brown presents a matchup problem at 6-3 and 205 pounds. Both may be required to step up in Hunt’s absence.

Minnesota is yet another big and physical team in Missouri’s way. The Tigers’ spread offense needs to be firing on all cylinders to score quickly once the Gophers try to control the clock with their running game and sound defense.

Report: Missouri DC will become next head coach at Missouri State

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The driving force behind Missouri’s success in the SEC over the past two seasons was defensive coordinator Dave Steckel. After leading a unit that produced the last two SEC Defensive Players of the Year, Steckel, 57, appears ready to accept a new challenge.

According to the Springfield News-Leader’s Lyndal Scranton, Steckel is expected to be named Missouri State’s new head coach on Sunday.

Steckel has served as an assistant coach under Gary Pinkel at the University of Missouri since the head coach took over the program in 2001. During the past six seasons, Steckel called plays as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.

Steckel was the only defensive coordinator coordinator this year to be named among the five finalists for the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.

The move could be viewed as a step down for a successful coordinator in the nation’s best conference. After all, the Missouri State Bears play at the FCS level. However, it’s an opportunity for an older coordinator to finally become a head coach for the first time.

Scranton reported, “His listed salary at Missouri is $600,000 but sources indicate that he is willing to take less at Missouri State as he’s eager to become a head coach after a long career as a top aide to Gary Pinkel at Missouri.”

Steckel is set to replace Terry Allen, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the season. The Bears suffered through five straight losing seasons. Missouri State will officially announce its decision at 5 p.m. Sunday.

A search for a defensive coordinator will ensue at Missouri. Two names have already been mentioned as a potential replacements for Steckel:

Road warriors: Missouri holds on against Tennessee, stays atop SEC East

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It didn’t come easy, but the No. 20 Missouri Tigers edged the Tennessee Volunteers 29-21 in Knoxville.

Gary Pinkel‘s squad has proven to be road warriors over the past two seasons, as they attempt to win a second SEC East title in consecutive years.

When the Tigers joined the SEC two years ago, they were considered an inferior program compared to the Texas A&M Aggies, who joined the league during the same season. Yet the Tigers have proven over the long haul they have what it takes to consistently win in college football’s toughest conference.

Even when Misssouri’s explosive spread offense isn’t firing on all cylinders — and it wasn’t Saturday against Tennessee — the team is now built to still win games.

Strong defense, a solid running game and good coaching always travel well. Missouri has all three.

Quarterback Maty Mauk continues to be erratic. The sophomore signal-caller was 12-of-25 passing, but he finally exploited Tennessee’s secondary in the fourth quarter. At that time, Missouri’s wide receivers began to win one-on-one matchups.

Jimmie Hunt and Bud Sasser were frustrated by Tennessee most of the contest. However, Mauk found both for a touchdown passes in the final frame. Hunt was the game’s leading receiver with 106 yards on three catches.

But what kept Missouri in the game initially was its ability to run the football and apply pressure on Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs. The Tigers gained 184 yards on the ground, while the Volunteers only managed 53 yards.

The strong defensive effort by Missouri is due to owning one of the best defensive lines in college football. Defensive ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden are as good as any duo in the nation. Golden was particularly disruptive Saturday evening.

Those defensive linemen will have to step up next week against the Arkansas Razorbacks’ overwhelming offensive line and rushing attack. The Razorbacks have won two straight games by the score of 47-0 against ranked SEC West opponents. They’re going to bring a different mentality than Tennessee did.

One more win is all Missouri needs to win the SEC East and play in the SEC Championship Game again. Like the Tennessee contest, it won’t come easy.

No. 20 Missouri tied 13-13 with Tennessee as SEC East hangs in the balance

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The No. 20 Missouri Tigers control their destiny. If they win out then they will claim an SEC East crown and a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

Tennessee apparently didn’t get the message.

Butch Jones‘ squad has given Missouri everything it can handle through two quarters of play. The two teams are tied 13-13 at halftime.

Neither team has been particularly sharp on offense, but Missouri has an edge in yardage with 181 total yards. The Volunteers only mustered 126 yards, and 31 of those came courtesy of a fake field goal.

Tennessee required a little trickeration to reach the end zone against Missouri’s vaunted defense. Backup quarterback and holder Patrick Ashford found tight end Alex Ellis racing down the field for the Volunteers only touchdown of the half (see: below).

Otherwise, Missouri’s talented defensive front has applied consistent pressure on Volunteers quarterback Josh Dobbs. The SEC’s sack leader, Shane Ray, already registered a pair of sacks in the first half.

“We have to continue to mix it up,” Jones told ESPN at halftime. “They’re a very, very disruptive front. So, we have to stay ahead of the sticks. A lot of the sacks have come on third-and-long situations.”

Running back Marcus Murphy proved to be the catalyst for the Tigers offense. While Russell Hansbrough led Missouri with 46 rushing yards, Murphy found the end zone twice. A missed extra point is the only reason the game remains tied.

As the two teams prepare for the second half, Missouri’s coaching staff needs to get quarterback Maty Mauk into a rhythm. The sophomore signal-caller was only 6-of-15 passing.

Tennessee, meanwhile, should continue to leave everything on the field and continue to dig deep into the team’s playbook.