TIGER KICKOFF: No sleeves MU offensive line's unwritten rule

Friday, November 19, 2010 | 5:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:15 p.m. CST, Friday, November 19, 2010
Missouri co-offensive line coach Josh Henson says playing without sleeves is "just the way it works" on the offensive line.

COLUMBIA — In many ways college football players’ lives revolve around rules. There are coaches barking orders, practice times, curfews and countless other ways for the athletes to be held accountable.

But there’s one rule for a select group of Tigers that was never written: Offensive linemen are never allowed to wear sleeves.

This Saturday, when Missouri heads to Ames, Iowa, one thing is guaranteed. It’s going to be cold. The high for the day is projected to be in the mid-40s, but multiple players said it always feels significantly colder than the temperature reads because the stadium creates a wind tunnel.

“It’s an offensive line thing,” co-offensive line coach Josh Henson said. “Every team I’ve been on, the coaches never say anything about it, it’s just the way it works.”

Several of Missouri’s offensive linemen couldn’t explain the rule, but they adhere to it.

“To me, it’s a toughness thing,” Henson said. “It’s an attitude. If it’s pouring down rain, if it’s 100 degrees, if it’s 20 degrees, it really doesn’t matter. We’re going to go out and play the same way we always play.”

Henson also said the offensive linemen shouldn’t need long sleeves to stay warm during a game.

“I think it just comes from being an offensive lineman,” he said. “We have plenty of fat on us anyways. We just figure we’re good with that. We don’t want to give the defense anything else to get a hold of to get an advantage on us.”

But some of Missouri’s offensive linemen are struggling to buy into that logic.

“I don’t really agree with it, but I guess it’s tradition and everything,” junior Austin Wuebbels said. “During the game it’s not bad, but once you come off to the sidelines it gets kind of chilly.”

Wuebbels, who said he hates the cold, was once able to make an exception to the rule.

“I played my redshirt freshman year on defense,” Wuebbels said. “To get me back on the offense, I made an agreement with (former offensive coordinator) coach (Dave) Christensen that if I could wear sleeves I’d come back to the o-line. It worked out for that game, I got to wear sleeves. But this year I don’t think it’ll be like that.”

Wuebbels said he knows that if he tried to wear sleeves this season his teammates wouldn’t let him get away with it.

“We hold each person to a standard,” he said. “You don’t want to look weak in front of your other teammates. It’s not that big of a deal. It won’t get to you, but it would just be nice to have.”

Many of Missouri’s players outside of the offensive line couldn’t help but laugh when they thought of playing in Ames without long sleeves.

“I think your play shows how tough you are,” sophomore defensive lineman Aldon Smith said. “I don’t think it matters what you’re wearing. I’ve seen a lot of people with no sleeves on their arms — they’re cold. If you want to look tough, go for it." 

But the one guy that relies on the offensive line the most, quarterback Blaine Gabbert, will also leave his forearms exposed.

“I honestly think being cold’s a mindset,” Gabbert said. “When you’re out there playing and running around, the cold never bothers us. They’re big guys. They sweat a lot and they sweat easily. They really have no problem.”

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Steven Whitaker, CRM November 19, 2010 | 12:32 p.m.

I NEVER was cold playing football. A player might get cold standing on the sidelines.

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