There are some that figure Missouri's football program might fall back to the pack since they are moving to the SEC. There is one thing that could change that perception and that's recruiting, the lifeblood to any program. The Tigers don't have much of a tradition before head coach Gary Pinkel came to Missouri, but he has turned things around in a big way. They'll be one of two new entrants in the SEC and have figured out a way to attract high level recruits from the traditional SEC powers. The Tigers have placed billboards along highways
in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Dallas, and Memphis.
The traditional SEC powers have kept those kids home and Missouri wants a piece of the action.
“Oh yes, I get text messages and emails from Mizzou people that live in that area and that region,” head coach Gary Pinkel told the AJC. “They talk about it and say how excited they are to see it.”
There are 16 billboards, including eight that have been placed out of state. There are three in Georgia, including two in Atlanta and one near Valdosta, while one each in Tampa, Fla., Dallas, Birmingham, Ala., Jacksonville, Fla., and Memphis. What was the idea behind the billboards?
“It’s to market Missouri,” Pinkel said. “We’ll be in Georgia recruiting. We’ve got great respect for the high school football in Georgia, especially in the Atlanta area. We’re just marketing our brand name a little bit. We’re going to get there and actively recruit … and we’re excited about it.”
It's a good idea to market the Missouri brand and make inroads into kids' homes who otherwise might not think about going to Missouri. Kids see the billboards and become curious about the school. Not a bad move by any means.
“We’ve done a complete analysis of players that sign with BCS schools out of Georgia, and certainly out of the Atlanta area,” Pinkel said. “The size and production of SEC and BCS is parallel to the Metroplex area in Dallas. The numbers out of Atlanta and Dallas are nearly identical. Both have great high school football.
“What you do is go down there and figure out how many players from Georgia stay in the SEC and stay in the ACC, and how many leave the state and go elsewhere to play. We’ve got data on these kinds of things. And, if anything, it’s about identifying good players and selling Missouri.
“We want to go down there with a good reputation of winning football games and graduating our athletes. It’s about marketing and developing trust … and slowly and slowly working ourselves into Georgia. We’re excited about doing that.”
“The facts are, in the last six years, we’re eighth in the BCS with winning in the nation. Those are facts. We’re certainly one of six teams that have won eight or more games in the last seven years. So we win at Missouri, and we consistently win. Over the last six years, we’ve graduated 96-percent of our players. Missouri is a great place and it’s a great college town with 33,000 students. Kids love to go to school here. We’ve got a lot to sell.”
Missouri has become a player in the college football world. Recruiting wise they've kept the best players in Kansas City and St. Louis from going elsewhere and have made some connections in talent rich Texas. They won't get the kids deep in the heart of SEC country immediately but they'll get some. And if they keep winning it'll draw even more attention to the school.