Five Burning Questions: Bill Connelly on Missouri’s SEC move

Last fall Missouri got so fed up with the antics in the Big 12 that the Tigers decided to take the SEC up on a generous offer to defect. An idea that was once just a gleam in Gary Pinkel's eye is now just weeks away as the Tigers gear up for life in college football's premier conference.

CBR reached out to celebrated data-cruncher and Mizzou savant Bill Connelly of SBNation for his insights on what's in store for the Tigers in this strange new land with incredible toilet paper.

1. The big offseason story at Mizzou has been James Franklin's shoulder. How big of a concern is that now with fall camp getting in gear?

Connelly: It was hanging over everything for most of the summer, but Gary Pinkel seems to have finally been convinced by his medical staff that Franklin really will be 100 percent when the season starts. You worry about the practice time he's missing, but he is an experienced guy now, and it might be just as beneficial for his potential No. 2's to get more reps right now.

2. What would you say is the most intriguing part of Missouri's switch to the SEC? On the field, that is.

For both Missouri and Texas A&M, there's a really fun "Will the Big 12 game work in the SEC?" thing going with this first season. Mizzou and A&M run completely different versions of the spread (while more people seem skeptical of Mizzou, A&M's the one running the straight-up Air Raid), but there still seems to be this "That crap won't work" vibe with Mizzou's move. So really, that has to be the most intriguing part of this first season. That, and the BATTLE OF COLUMBIAS!!! (Mizzou-South Carolina), of course.

3. Missouri has actually been a little underrated defensively in recent years. What is the strength of the D this season?

If tackles Sheldon Richardson and Lucas Vincent are both 100 percent (Richardson missed the spring with injury, and Vincent hurt himself lifting weights last month), then the front seven should be quite strong. Mizzou handled pro-style offenses like North Carolina's with no problem last year, and considering their third linebacker is quite a bit better than their third safety, they might be more well-built for slowing down some of the more power-oriented offenses of the SEC more than, say, Baylor. Cornerback E.J. Gaines is the real deal, but one could pretty easily call the other three positions in the secondary (especially the two safety spots) questionable at best.

4. Syracuse is Mizzou's next to last game of the season. Didn't anyone explain to you how SEC scheduling works?

Man oh man, is this home schedule awesome. SE Louisiana still opens up the proceedings, but the other six home games are Georgia, Arizona State*, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Kentucky and Syracuse. That's fun.

(*CBR: Might want to lock up your valuables if Todd Graham is coming to town.)

5. We learned this spring that heralded recruit and now Missouri student-athlete Dorial Green-Beckham's favorite food is fried sushi. Doesn't that kinda defeat the point?

Don't knock it till you try it, man. It's incredible. He's a smart dude.