In a relatively brief time as a Southeastern Conference head coach, Eli Drinkwitz quickly has become something of appointment listening/viewing for his press conferences.
Thursday's Southeastern Conference media days debut for Missouri's second-year head man proved no different.
Actually, Drinkwitz tried to do the media's work – asking the tough questions – in advance of his time on the dais at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama.
Like, if the University of Texas does join the SEC, will the astounding kerfuffle that continues to percolate in the Big 12 be an issue in the league?
Laugh, but it was issue enough to prompt Big 12 Coordinator of Officials Greg Burks to say last week that the 'horns down' gesture likely would be an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
Drinkwitz went straight to the top of the SEC, Greg Sankey.
“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 Sankey in the hallway and he gave me a strong rebuttal by saying no comment.
“So, we'll see where that goes.”
Drinkwitz, naturally, had additional thoughts when pressed about the alleged interest of both Texas and the University of Oklahoma of obtaining SEC membership.
“I've been trying to tell people everybody wants to play in the SEC, man,” Drinkwitz said. “If you can attract a couple of really good schools to come play, that's great. I immediately called my athletic director, Jim (Sterk), and told him that if the commissioner changes and adds two games to our schedule, I think we all understand that (SEC assistant commissioner) Mark Womack is going to put both Texas and OU on Mizzou's schedule moving forward. So we're ready for any challenge that is thrown at us.
“No, in all seriousness, control what you can control. That's all speculative. This is talking season, as a coach once phrased it, and speculative season, and gives you all a lot of things to do. But what we're worried about is converting third downs and scoring touchdowns. They ain't on our schedule this year, and if the commissioner decides or our presidents decide that's what it will be in the future, then hopefully Missouri employs me long enough to see that.”
Drinkwitz engineered a breakthrough season in his first year atop the Tigers' program, earning key wins against defending national champion LSU and SEC Eastern Division rivals Kentucky, South Carolina and Arkansas in the 'Battle Line Rivalry.'