Cuonzo Martin

Missouri’s football team is in free fall and a loss to lowly Arkansas in Little Rock could cost head coach Barry Odom his job.

He’s not the only Tigers coach under fire.

Three years ago, I thought Mizzou basketball coach Cuonzo Martin was in the right place at the right time and would be at the Tigers’ helm until he decided to leave for a more prestigious job.

It’s early, but following a beat down by Butler in Kansas City on Monday night in the Hall of Fame Classic tournament, Martin is officially on the hot seat list.

Butler roared to a 25-7 lead and a crowd jam-packed with Mizzou fans was forced to sit on its hands on the way to a 63-52 Tigers loss.

The biggest excitement of the evening was when the Tigers would cut the lead to single digits. Butler would respond and Missouri would force a terrible shot or turn the ball over. Martin’s team looked terrible for long stretches at a time.

After the game, a non-flustered Martin said, “They made plays, got to the rim, played with confidence and made shots.”

C’mon man. You gotta do better than that, Cuonzo.

Jeremiah Tillman immediately got into foul trouble, scored no points and grabbed just two rebounds. His continued woes must be addressed by the coaching staff. Blaming the referees for his foolish fouls is a cop out.

“I wouldn’t expect Jeremiah to have the numbers he had in a game like this,” Martin said following the game.

“Even with fouls I wouldn’t have expected that.”

Unfortunately, it’s what many fans anticipate.

Martin said, “We settled down in the second half, but you dug yourself such a hole in the first half. Give them credit for doing the right things.”

Impatient Tigers fans are giving more and more credit to Martin for his team doing the wrong things.

Martin can play it off and keep coaching with confidence. But if the losses mount there will be serious calls for a change.

“You have to get past this as fast as you can,” Martin said of the loss. “Get over it. It’ll sting. You learn from it but you have to get past it.”

Missouri was scheduled to play Oklahoma on Tuesday in Kansas City. A bad loss could set the stage for a bad season. That would be dangerous because a lot of Mizzou fans are ready to be past him.

Locked in 

Former Missouri Tigers quarterback Drew Lock could get his first NFL start on Sunday when the Denver Broncos host the San Diego Chargers.

"It's possible, yeah. ... As far as this week goes, all options are on the table. ... We're just going to make a decision in the next couple days,” said coach Vic Fangio when asked if Lock could be taken off the injured reserved list and start this week.

“Everything is on the table.”

Lock returned to practice two weeks ago and fans of the 3-8 Broncos are clamoring to see the second-round pick in action.

“I think we need to make the decision we feel is best, understanding everybody's wants, from your group and the group outside, but we need to make the decision we feel is best for Drew and the team, and we will," Fangio said.

I wonder if GM John Elway is wondering if he made the best decision in hiring Fangio, the former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator.

The Broncos fired Vance Joseph, one of few black NFL head coaches at the time, after two seasons. His 11-21 record obviously was not good, but all Fangio has brought to the table is continued mediocrity.

Also, injured quarterback Joe Flacco ripped Fangio and the conservative game plans before he learned his neck injury would end his season. Lock might get his first chance to right the ship on Sunday. Good luck with that.

Lion’s share of losing 

The Detroit Lions had winning records in three of four seasons and went 36-30 under respected African-American head coach Jim Caldwell. His team made the playoffs in 2016 and narrowly missed with a 9-7 record in 2017. He was fired after that season and GM Bob Quinn said the team “needed a new voice.”

Former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was hired and what has followed has been a disaster.

The Lions went 6-10 in 2018 and, following the embarrassing loss to the pitiful Washington Redskins last Sunday, Patricia’s team fell to 3-7-1.

Detroit Free Press sports columnist Jeff Seidel said Lions fans should boycott the Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears.

“This team is bad and getting worse,” he wrote

“And you can blame Patricia for that. He has given no reason why he should keep his job, compiling a 9-17-1 record as head coach. We have seen no progress, just regression. We have seen no reason for hope, only disappointment.

“At this point, I just don’t see any reason why he would be the coach next year. Or even in December. Or even on Thanksgiving Day, to tell you the truth.

“Trying your hardest doesn’t make you a successful coach. And losing close games doesn’t make you a successful coach. Shoot, Jim Caldwell got fired because 9-7 wasn’t good enough.”

Maybe the Lions should rehire Caldwell.

Wilder times 

Heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder retained his WBC title by knocking out Luis Ortiz in the seventh round of their rematch Saturday in Las Vegas.

The socially conscious Wilder also hammered NFL owners on behalf of Colin Kaepernick during the week leading up to the fight.

“Unfortunately, we live in a society where there are certain things that you can’t do because you’re not in a position to do so,” Wilder told the Sporting News.

“In sports like basketball and football, there are owners who feel a certain type of way and may not want you to represent them in that manner because it doesn’t reflect who they are.”

Wilder explained he can be outspoken “because I don’t have a team or an owner to answer to.”

“It’s different in other sports and (Kaepernick) took responsibility and owned the consequences of his actions like a man. I wish nothing but the best for Colin Kaepernick and hopefully he gets on a team because I know he’ll do a damn good job. He deserves another chance to play.

“I’m not one of these people who is afraid to speak my mind. I have a platform and I’m going to use it. When you’re in a position that I’m in, why not use the platform for the greater good? That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Once again, more black professional athletes should follow this path and not shy away from fan or ownership concerns.

The Reid Roundup 

After several dismal years, the Webster Groves football team pieced together a 5-5 record and will be a formidable opponent for Kirkwood during the annual Turkey Day Game at noon Thursday at Kirkwood.

Eligibility scandals, mysterious coach firings and the fatal shooting of a young girl following a jamboree in the city make it a pleasure to say goodbye to this high school football season.

I guess Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson can play quarterback, after all. Give retired GM Ozzie Newsome loads of credit for recognizing Jackson is special. He and coach John Harbaugh saw the potential and weren’t afraid to draft him as a quarterback – not a running back or receiver.

That 45-6 complete and total behind whooping the Ravens put on the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night followed the 37-8 trashing the San Francisco 49ers laid on Green Bay the night before. This sets up a must-see game this coming Sunday when the 49ers travel to Baltimore.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones finally realized when most of us Cowboys fans have known for years. This team is at a coaching disadvantage with Jason Garrett at the helm. Should the Cowboys lose to Buffalo on Thanksgiving, Garrett might be unemployed before December.

My advice to Jones when/if Garrett is fired is to keep defensive backs coach Kris Richard on the staff. He would be an excellent choice for interim coach if Garrett doesn’t survive the week.

Rams coach Sean McVay said it’s impossible to prepare for Jackson during a week of practice. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk suggests a team sign Colin Kaepernick as backup quarterback so he can simulate what Jackson does. This seems like a move New England coach Bill Belichick would consider.

North Carolina A&T earned a berth in the Celebration Bowl for the third year in a row, and the fourth time in five years by blasting N.C. Central 54-0 to claim the MEAC title. Florida A&M, 7-1, was actually the conference’s best team, but is on NCAA probation…

Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.

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