March 12, 2008

Plenty to prove

Last year, there was a quiet confidence about the Missouri Tigers in spring football. Almost as if they knew something the rest of America did not.

"We knew how good we could be," linebacker Sean Weatherspoon recalled. "We were just waiting to show everybody. We wanted to show everybody that we could be that good."

With a 12-and-2 season, a Big 12 North championship and a Cotton Bowl thrashing of Arkansas, the Tigers certainly proved that point. Now, their charge is to build on it.

"That's one good year," Gary Pinkel said. "What I would stress is can you have another high level year two years in a row? We haven't done that."

No doubt, the expectations are there.

National championships, top five rankings, one--if not two--legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates. It is rarified air for Mizzou, and Pinkel knows one of his most difficult tasks could be getting a team that has never had expectations to handle them well.

"You have a year like that, there's lingering effects. You go around and people are still congratulating you three months after the season's over," Pinkel said.

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