Win tomorrow would show conference Lions are for real

Win tomorrow would show conference Lions are for real

Win tomorrow would show conference Lions are for real

Cody Dyer

It’s, once again, time for Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State University to convene for the annual Miners’ Bowl.

This series has garnered a lot of attention over the years, and it appears the Lions are in a position to end PSU’s run of dominance. There isn’t any reason to believe the Lions shouldn’t come away with a victory Saturday at Carnie Smith Stadium.

Well, there are a few reasons.

It’s been 15 long seasons since Jon Lantz, Rod Smith and Matt Cook led Southern to victory over the Gorillas.

In that span, the Lions have had four different – non-interim – head coaches after Lantz left during the 1997 season. Meanwhile, Pittsburg State has flourished under the direction of Chuck Broyles.

Think about this: Smith, who was a star in the ’93 game, has gone on to win two Super Bowls and has finished a 14-year NFL career, which should land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Since Southern first met Pittsburg State in 1968, the Lions have mustered only eight wins in 40 tries. The Gorillas have outscored Southern 521-181 since 1993, which averages out to an annual thrashing of 37-12.


Yeah, this – so-called – rivalry has been one-sided, to say the least, over the years.

Now, I understand the game has a lot of added meaning due to the mystique of the Miners’ Bowl and the proximity of the two schools. But when one school consistently hammers the other for so many years, can it really be called a rivalry?

It would be nice to see Southern consistently compete against Pittsburg State, but it seems the fans, not the game on the field, have built this rivalry.

The Lions, however, have begun to turn things around for the better. When Bart Tatum arrived, he had the daunting task of turning around a program still recovering from the sudden loss of former Head Coach John Ware.

Tatum won his first three games in 2006, before suffering his first loss to – you guessed it – Pittsburg State.

Last season, the Lions lost by a field goal, 31-28, to the Gorillas at Fred G. Hughes Stadium. More importantly, Tatum, now in his third season, has begun to stockpile the program with talent from not only around the region, but locally as well.

In the past, numerous talented players have passed on attending Southern for a more competitive school in the MIAA, such as Pittsburg State.

Tatum and his coaching staff have embraced the idea with more than 10 local recruits on this year’s roster alone.

There’s plenty of work still to be done. But the days of finishing toward the bottom of the conference are quickly dissipating.

A win this Saturday against Pittsburg State would certainly help prove to the rest of the MIAA the Lions are for real.