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Ben Frederickson and Dave Matter explain how a wacky SEC season got here, with the Tigers having two shots at one bowl-game-securing win, and why beating Florida could be easier than winning on the road against Arkansas.

Here are the highlights from our weekly chat with Post-Dispatch readers. 

Q: If Tyler Badie has a monster last two games (400+ yards rushing), is he in the Heisman running?

A: No. It's almost impossible to be in the Heisman conversation if your team only wins five, six or seven games. And as great as he's played, he doesn't have a signature, prolific game against an elite opponent. If he ran for 175 yards and two TDs against Georgia and MU won 10 games, then maybe. But he won't get the votes for doing it against Vandy and South Carolina. The Heisman is as much about the narrative arc than it is the stats. He'll be lucky to get first-team All-American with Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker in his way for that selection. But that takes nothing away from an incredible season. He’ll be first-team All-SEC no doubt — at least on one ballot.

Q: With what could be Coach Martin's best overall class coming in next year and the fact he does have a large buyout, how secure is his job after the horrible UMKC loss?

A: As of today, there's no realistic scenario where Martin would lose his job after this season. Mizzou would owe him $6 million if he's fired after this season — and he couldn't be fired until May 1, which means even if you find a way to pay the buyout, you couldn't have a new coach in place until four weeks after the Final Four and nearly three weeks after the start of the April signing period. Those are the facts. We can debate for the six months whether Mizzou should make a coaching change, but the school would have to overcome those two very large hurdles for it to become a reality. Unless Martin chooses to walk away from the job and the buyout — and I don't see that happening — then he will almost assuredly be the head coach in 2022-23.

Q: Dave, in your opinion, does Cuonzo have enough talent to compete in the SEC? I posed this question to Ben Frederickson on Tuesday and he did not answer it. I know they got beaten by Kansas City. That is not my point. Is the team talented enough to compete, irrespective of results, coaching, fan support, etc.? You can beat a more talented team with effort, a better game plan, luck, etc. but "if you haven't got the horses" you do not stand a chance. Thanks, Dave.

A: Define compete. Compete for the championship? Compete for a top-four seed in Tampa? (Yes, the SEC tournament is in Tampa this season.) Compete for a middle-of-the-pack finish? I picked Mizzou ninth on my preseason SEC ballot. So, no, I don't think there's enough talent there to compete for a championship for finish in the top four. There's just too much proven talent and incoming talent at Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn for a team like Mizzou to contend this year. Does Missouri have enough to win some games in the league? Sure. Can Mizzou knock off any of those teams I mentioned? On the right day, when the 3s are falling, sure. But over the long haul of an 18-game SEC season I don't see this core group as good enough to push for a top-four seed. Kobe Brown and Javon Pickett have proven they're good enough to be role players on an NCAA Tournament team. I don't know that they're good enough to be the centerpieces to an above-average high-major team. And the supporting cast is still completely unproven.

Q: I saw a random headline linking Barry Odom to the open Virginia Tech job. The author claimed that Odom was the type of coach for Virginia Tech. Not sure what the author meant by that so I thought I'd ask your opinion about Odom fitting in at Virginia Tech. And if not Virginia Tech are there any power 5 school openings you think Odom might have a chance for?

A: On the surface, I think he'd fit somewhat fit the profile. High-profile SEC coordinator, former SEC head coach.

But there's one catch: Odom was a Justin Fuente guy. He worked under Fuente at Memphis, learned under him, is considered part of his coaching tree. Rarely do you see a program fire a coach and then hire someone from his tree. 

I'm not sure Odom gets a shot at any of the six Power 5 openings. A .500 record as a head coach isn't the easiest sell to your fans, especially at Virginia Tech, where they just fired the guy who was 12 games over .500. 

I think he's better suited for a Group of Five job where he can improve his record and prove he can build a program and win at a high level. But he's got a good enough job that he can afford to be picky. He doesn't have to jump to Akron or FIU or UMass. 

How about this: If Billy Napier finally leaves Louisiana-Lafayette (maybe for LSU), I could see Louisiana AD Bryan Maggard — a longtime Mizzou administrator — taking a close look at Odom. And that's a darn good Group of 5 job. 

Q: Dave, I've said this for years: The current bowl system, which could easily jettison 75 percent of the bowl games, champions mediocrity. Period. Whether it's my Tigers or anyone else, the media makes a big deal out of achieving six wins to be "bowl eligible." For many teams, of those six wins, three or four may come against inferior competition (see Mizzou). And, you get to go to a city and stadium that these days will be three-quarters empty. Yes, I know the argument that a bowl bid earns the team more valuable practices and publicity for recruiting, but mediocrity is mediocrity. Give me the old days of the Big Five bowls (Rose, Sugar, Cotten, Orange, and Gator) when it really meant something.

A: I disagree. I like college football. I like watching college football games. I'll gladly watch Tennessee-North Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Bowl on a Tuesday afternoon in December. What's wrong with that? Nobody is glorifying mediocrity. Some folks just like to watch more football.

Q: What is your sense of where AD Desiree Reed-Francois stands with men’s basketball ... I know she is locked in, to a degree, on Martin’s contract stipulations but do you sense she is keeping a close eye on where this program is going, ready to pull the trigger on a new coach if it's not what she wants, this year? And, if so, what's your sense of her standards - what she wants to see in the program to retain Counzo or move on (more than the simple, "It's trending up ..." kind of stuff, if you can).

A: Obviously she'll monitor the situation closely. Just because she has a prior working relationship with Martin doesn't mean she won't hold him and his program to a high standard. Now, expecting results and wanting to see progress doesn't mean she's going to set a quota for wins this year. It's not like she's got a bag of $6 million in cash sitting around to pay the buyout. She's smart, very analytical. She's not afraid to make tough choices. She fired people at UNLV. She'll do the same at Mizzou if she must.

Q: Kim English I really believe can bring the sec type players we need to compete at the top level in the conf. I know he is young and inexperienced but I think he really relates well to players. I don't think his salary would be huge at first.

A: Kim is off to a great start at George Mason. Personally, I think Mizzou should take an extended break from hiring alums to coach the two high-profile sports, but he's got the opportunity to put himself in the position to become a candidate at high-major programs that one day have job openings.

Q: How do you explain Mizzou being a 10-point underdog at home against FLA this week?  I might be tempted to think the odds makers in Vegas are nuts on this one, except it does worry me because it seems like the experts there often are more correct with seemingly nonsensical point spreads between two teams than not. Only possible theories that I can come up with as to their way of thinking: they think the unsettled QB situation for MU could be a problem? They think FLA is going to rally hard for their embattled Coach Mullen in their last 2 games? 

A: Don't forget, the Vegas lines aren't predictions. They're not even projections. They're just trying to entice enough gamblers to bet on both sides of the line. They're expecting some gamblers to see that number and just assume Florida will handle Mizzou because it's Florida, the program, not Florida the 2021 team ... while others see how the two teams are trending in recent weeks and would believe Mizzou can keep the margin closer. The average gambler probably isn't very smart, which means half the gamblers are less smart than not smart.

Dave Matter

@dave_Matter on Twitter

dmatter@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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