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App State’s Eli Drinkwitz set to be Mizzou’s head coach

It would appear that the Tigers have found their man.

Appalachian State v South Carolina Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Mizzou Tigers have reportedly found their next head coach.

ESPN’s Chris Low reported Sunday night that Eli Drinkwitz of the Appalachian State Mountaineers is set to be the next head coach for the Tigers.

Drinkwitz’s name had been tossed around on Sunday, starting with a report from Fox’s Bruce Feldman that his name had emerged in discussions. Dave Matter of the STL Post Dispatch later reported that both sides were nearing a deal, but nothing was set in stone. All of this certainly appears to have just been a formality, as Low’s report suggests that everything is in place. KOMU’s Chris Gervino said that pending the BOC’s ruling on the contract, it’s possible that Drinkwitz is introduced this coming week.

Drinkwitz has risen in the ranks over the last decade. He started off in the college ranks on Gene Chizik’s Auburn Tigers staff in 2010 and 2011, the former of course being the year they won a National Championship with Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton under center. He would then work under current Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn with the Arkansas State Red Wolves in 2012 and 2013.

Following that two-year stint, he would move up to the Boise State Broncos, working under Bryan Harsin as a tight ends coach in 2014 and then as the offensive coordinator and QB coach in 2015.

He finally came back to the Power 5 in 2016, when he was hired to work under the same positions with the N.C. State Wolfpack from 2016-2018. Then, this past season, he took over as the head coach for the Mountaineers after Scott Satterfield left to coach the Louisville Cardinals. He helped to lead the Mountaineers to a 12-1 record and a Sun Belt Championship as they defeated the UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns on Saturday to ice things up.

This is a pretty solid hire for Mizzou. They were likely never to get any of the big names, so plucking one away from a very good Group of 5 program is certainly a good way to go. The only level of concern that I would have here is just his experience. He’s only spent one year as a head coach, that being this past season of course. In addition to that, 18 of the 22 listed starters for App State (per Ourlads) were at least juniors. So he spent a year with a very experienced group that he had no hand in working with.

Granted, that’s not to say he can’t coach obviously, or that he can’t do his job well. The only strong point here is that there isn’t a large sample size to really judge him going into this. Mizzou is a solid job in the SEC. There’s two big metro areas in which to really work with (STL, KC) but reestablishing the footprint that made them successful is going to have to be a point of emphasis.

Mizzou has finished 13th, 13th, 13th, and, well, 13th in the SEC over the last four seasons in the recruiting rankings, per 247Sports Composite. Amid questionable coaching from Barry Odom, their place in the SEC over the last few years shouldn’t come to too much surprise from those standings. They were up to 12th in the 2020 rankings, although we’re obviously not sure who will be retained going into the next cycle. So, Drinkwitz and whomever his staff turns out to be is going to have their work cut out for them.

Above all, considering some of the names out there, Mizzou fans can’t really be displeased with this. There are some questions, just like with anything else. But this is a very solid hire for the Tigers, as they look to get back to prominence both in their conference and on a national level again.