Missouri players adjusting to their role in the SEC

Tigers hosting Fan Day in Columbia

Missouri running back Jared McGriff-Culver works out with other Tigers during practice Thursday in Columbia. Missouri’s move to the SEC has left some Tigers feeling a lack of respect.

Missouri running back Jared McGriff-Culver works out with other Tigers during practice Thursday in Columbia. Missouri’s move to the SEC has left some Tigers feeling a lack of respect. Photo by Kris Wilson.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Southeastern Conference logo now adorns the turf at Faurot Field, a daily reminder of what faces the Missouri football team in the coming months and years.

The university and its fans are abuzz with “SEC fever,” as evidenced by an increase in ticket sales and the promise of facility improvements across multiple sports.

But there’s something Missouri’s players seem to be missing, and it’s printed on T-shirts some of the coaches have worn during practice: Respect.

The SEC has become the Mecca of college football. Six straight national titles will do that. Now, Missouri players feel they have to prove they belong in their new league.

“We’re really excited to step out to play,” Missouri receiver T.J. Moe said. “I’m tired of hearing about it.”

Questions about Missouri being able to compete in the SEC have followed the Tigers around since the announcement was made in Novemeber they were leaving the Big 12.

At the SEC media days in July, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel defended his team by saying it’s not like Missouri was playing high school teams.

There’s little doubt the Tigers will be challenged on the field. The SEC has seven teams ranked in the preseason top 25 coaches poll.

But the conference Missouri left has five teams in the top 25. And in their first season in the SEC, the Tigers landed the nation’s No. 1 recruit, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham out of Springfield.

Still, Tiger players don’t feel like they are getting a lot of respect.

“We feel like we’re not respected at all, so we take it as that,” Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. “We come out here and make each other better.”

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The Tigers will hold their annual fan day beginning at 3:45 p.m. today (Sunday) at Faurot Field.

Fans can take to the field and get autographs from their favorite Missouri players and coaches until 5:15 p.m.. Players will be able to sign one item per fan, and free schedule posters will be available.

Fans should enter at Gate 1 or Gate 2W. Parking and admission is free.

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