QUESTION: What's your opinion of Eli Drinkwitz's interactions with the media?
MATTER: As long as he's on time, accessible and provides interesting answers, I don't have complaints. If he doesn't like your question he'll usually let you know about it. But that's fine. If his team doesn't play well we write about it. So, bad questions are fair game for criticism, too.
I think he's learning quickly that coaching at Mizzou means you have to deal with a lot of student reporters - maybe more than at any other Division I program. That part of the job can try a coach's patience. But I think he's adjusting. It's not like the students are going away. They recycle every season through the journalism school.
Personally, I wish I could have gotten a chance to know him before the season started, but the pandemic prevented anyone in the media from really developing any relationship or rapport with him. For the beat writers at the major outlets that cover him on a daily basis, it's fairly unprecedented to write so much about a head coach that we've rarely talked to off the record or away from the scrum. You just can’t get to know a person or develop trust over weekly Zoom meetings.
I will say I wish he granted media access to his position coaches. I've been able to develop great relationships with assistants over the years and they can be great resources of information for readers when it comes to stories about their players. Unfortunately, since the start of the season Drinkwitz hasn't made them available. That's a major change from my experience covering Larry Smith, Gary Pinkel and Barry Odom. It’s the readers’ loss more than anything.