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Columbia Missourian

COMMENTARY: For Missouri's football program, expect few changes next year

By Richard Fernandez
November 25, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST
Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel walks off the field after the first half of the game against Texas A&M on Saturday at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. After the game, Pinkel said he stands by his coaching approach even though Missouri ended the season 5-7.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — With the 2012 season behind the Missouri football team, fans are left to wonder what will be different next season.

Coach Gary Pinkel believes in what he does. Still. Even after Missouri's humiliating loss at Texas A&M.

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"It won't change 'cause what we do works," Pinkel said after the game.

James Franklin will be a senior next season and will probably be the starter.

From what Corbin Berkstresser has shown this year, Missouri needs Franklin to succeed.

But there is no guarantee that he or or other prominent players on the team will be healthy either, which makes Pinkel's plans even more troubling.

Can Missouri afford to have a quarterback who has gotten injured so often and chooses not to take painkillers? It didn't turn out well this year for the Tigers.

Concussions are different; it was out of Franklin's control if he was not cleared to play. No players should return from a concussion before they are healed.

With that said, Franklin has been known to have an "It's just a game" mentality. He might sit out with injuries that other players would play through.

It is just a game, but there are hundreds of thousands of people emotionally invested. Fans probably expect too much from college athletes, but that won't change.

Thankfully for Franklin, his coaches and teammates seem to have his back, so don't expect him to lose the job.

Pinkel knows he needs to win, even with injuries. After Missouri's loss to Alabama, Pinkel said he was done talking about them.

"We're not going to talk about it anymore," Pinkel said during an Oct. 22 news conference. "We don't have excuses for anything around here."

That didn't last long.

On Monday, Pinkel made it clear this week that he blames injuries for Missouri's embarrassing first season in the Southeastern Conference.

"This season has been frustrating, just for me personally, from the injury standpoint," Pinkel said.

He even said that the 2007 Missouri team, which won 12 games, might have only won seven or eight with the same injury problems as his current team.

If Pinkel truly believes that, which he seems to, it reinforces the fact that he won't change anything.

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.