COLUMBIA, Mo. — They waited Tuesday morning in the fancy, new Show-Me Club — Truman the Tiger and the Mizzou band and the Golden Girls and the gray-haired donors still mad about the Vanderbilt loss.
And at 11:02 a.m., new football coach Eli Drinkwitz took to the stage and put on a white Mizzou visor, like he will on Sept. 5.
“For me, this is an opportunity of a lifetime,” the coach said. “And opportunities of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime with an opportunity.”
He speaks in mantras. Over and over, Drinkwitz dropped clever turns-of-phrases and plays-on-words that would make for a motivational poster. When he said them, he pronounced them with conviction, with the speed and fluidness of a megachurch pastor.
“He's got that magnetic personality,” athletics director Jim Sterk said, “that makes the players, the coaches — and everyone he meets — to give them their best.”
Some other Drinkwitz quips:
“I don't fear failure, I attack success.”
“The only thing better than a little competition is a lot of competition, and we're going to compete every day to be our personal best.”
Drinkwitz had the right pitch with his words — and made the right pitch from a salesman standpoint.
It's not hard to win an introductory press conference. Drinkwitz won his, sure, but one of the takeaways from the day was just the steadfast, unwavering way he spoke. He has a plan for winning football games. He's been a winner everywhere he's coached at the college level, back from his first job as a quality control coach for the 2010 national champion Auburn Tigers, making $15,000 “and no benefits,” he said.
He pressed the right buttons Tuesday, from pointing out the excellence of coach Gary Pinkel to acknowledging that Tigers fans say both “Missouri” and “Missour-uh.”
And Drinkwitz proclaimed that his play-calling offensive coordinator will be ... Eli Drinkwitz.
“Our program is going to have a competitive fire to it, and it's going to be fun to watch,” said the coach, who shared he'll likely name a defensive coordinator in the coming day or so. “Our style of play on offense is a pro tempo style, we're going to base out of the no-huddle, we're going to be quarterback-driven, we're going to have a dominant downhill run game and a vertical pass game. And we're going to execute well under pressure.
“On defense, we're going to stop the run and confuse, harass and hit the quarterback. And we're going to be fundamentally sound with tackling and turnovers. Our special teams are going to be the heartbeat of our football program.”
As for potential recruits, Drinkwitz pointed out four characteristics “that are the hallmark of a championship football program. ... Focused, intangibles, talented and tough.”
And where will he recruit for Missouri?
It starts in Missouri.
“We're going to spend every single minute trying to recruit this state,” he said. “And we're going to St. Louis, we're going to Kansas City. If you can play football (in Missouri), we're going to get you and we're going to get you here. That's my commitment to you. I'm a former high school football coach. I know what it takes. I know what recruiting is. It's about relationships. We're looking for the right fit for Mizzou football, we're looking for focused, intangibles, talented and tough. Those four characteristics are the hallmarks of a championship football program. And those are the kinds of kids that we're going to recruit — and I know those kids are in Missouri.
“There's been a great foundation and history in Texas. And I think we would be remiss not to continue to establish that line. I know Coach Pinkel in the past did an excellent job recruiting from the state of Texas — Chase Daniel and several other other great players. So definitely Texas, obviously the surrounding states and then we will hit wherever there's a direct flight from Kansas City or St. Louis.”
At 11:12 a.m., 10 minutes after his opening speech, Drinkwitz finished his with three letters: M-I-Z.
Obviously, three other letters will determine whether or not he sticks around for a while ... or if we'll be back in the Show-Me club a few years from now.
Missouri's new coach hits the ground running on his first day on the job.