Bear Gridders to begin preseason camp
The Missouri State University football Bears will start preparations for their 2007 season on Aug. 1. Missouri State opens its campaign Aug. 30 at Plaster Field against the University of Missouri-Rolla.
Second-year head coach Terry Allen and his staff will greet 90 squad members next week with 20 practices in 15 days before fall semester classes start at Missouri State. Allen will have 26 returning lettermen on a roster which includes one of the smallest senior groups on record at MSU. The Bears have just eight seniors after last year's 25-man senior group was the largest ever for an MSU squad. Allen and his staff return six starters on offense and two on defense.
The Bear gridders report Aug. 1 for equipment issue and squad meetings. Practice begins that evening and squad photo and media day will be the morning of Aug. 2. The squad goes into full pads Aug. 6.
Missouri State was 2-9 last year and tied for seventh in the Gateway Football Conference. The Gateway remains the nation's toughest Football Championship Subdivision league and has now had two playoff entrants 11 years in a row. Every Gateway school has been in the playoffs at least once, five different league schools have advanced to the semifinals in the last nine years and the presence of four Gateway teams in the 16-team playoff bracket in 2003 marked the first time any league has had four playoff teams in a year. GFC member Youngstown State won a national title in 1997 and reached the semifinals in 2006 and Northern Iowa reached the 2005 national title game.
In addition to the new FCS name, the Gateway Football Conference has a new look. Western Kentucky left the league after the 2006 season to seek its fortune in the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly I-A, and the Gateway will play this year with seven schools and welcome two new members in 2008: North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
Allen is in his second year back in FCS and the Gateway Conference a decade after he finished an eight-year stretch which made him the winningest head coach in league history with a 75-26 record. Allen was head coach at UNI from 1989 to 1996 and won or shared the GFC title his last seven years in a row, with seven straight trips to the FCS playoffs. In eight years at UNI, Allen's teams never lost a home conference game.
Following his UNI tenure, Allen was head coach at Kansas from 1997 to 2001 and from 2002 through 2005 he was associate head coach, tight ends coach and special teams coach at Iowa State. His career record for 14 years as a college head coach is 97-68.
The 2007 season is the 26th Missouri State year in Division I athletics, and the 26th year in FCS for the Bears. The Bears also start their 17th year in Plaster Sports Complex (capacity 16,300). The stadium is in its second year with a new playing surface after the FieldTurf installation was completed in the spring of 2006.
The 2007 Bears have six regular season home games, including three league tests. After the home opener against Missouri-Rolla, Missouri State goes to Tennessee-Martin and Kansas State. The Bears host Central Arkansas Sept. 22 and go to Youngstown State Sept. 29 to open Gateway play. League home outings bring Illinois State to Plaster Oct. 6, followed by Indiana State Oct. 27 and UNI Nov. 3. Other road league games are at Western Illinois Oct. 13 and Southern Illinois Oct. 20. The season ends with a non-leaguer at home Nov. 10 against Southeast Missouri State.
The season's first five games are all night games and the last six games are afternoon contests. The Bears' home opener Aug. 30 and the Sept. 6 visit to Tennessee-Martin are Thursday evening ballgames.
Allen will hold a week of staff meetings prior to practice. Once workouts begin, the Bears will alternate double workout days with single practices. Single practices are at 3:45 p.m. with double daily workouts set to begin at 10 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.
Gateway Media Day: Gateway Football Conference Media Day will be July 24 at the Renaissance Hotel in St. Louis. The preseason conference poll and preseason all-conference team will be announced and the 2007 media guides for the Gateway and the seven league schools will be available. The Missouri State contingent at the meetings will include Allen, TB Gerald Davis and CB Marcus Colbert.
Coaching Staff: Head coach Terry Allen has one new assistant on his staff, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rob Christophel.
Co-Captains: The Bears will select and announce their 2007 co-captains Aug. 18 between the end of preseason camp and the first game.
Forsythe Athletics Center: The football Bears and eight other Missouri State athletics teams are in their fifth year in renovated Forsythe Athletics Center. The final phase of the renovation was completed in 2003 and involved the ground floor of the 27-year old, two-story building to provide a 100-player locker room for football and new locker rooms for other men's and women's sports. New equipment rooms, training rooms and physician's examing rooms, coaching staff locker rooms and storage space were also included.
Radio-TV: All 2007 Bears games will be broadcast live on radio on KTXR (101.3FM) in Springfield and on the statewide Missouri State Football Radio Network. Art Hains and Scott Opfer will describe the action.
The five Bears' home games other than Oct. 6 Illinois State game will be shown in Springfield on a tape-delay basis by Mediacom, and shown on MCC-14 at times announced by Mediacom. Don West and Mike McClure will describe the action.
The Oct. 6 Missouri State-Illinois State game is included in the Gateway TV package for 2007 and will air on FSN Midwest. Start time for the game is 2 p.m. at Plaster Field.
The Terry Allen Television Show will air weekly, with three showings each week at a day/time to be announced. The 30-minute program is hosted by Don West will feature the Bears' head coach and air on Mediacom (MCC-14) and the Bears' Football TV Network.
The Terry Allen Radio Show will be broadcast weekly at a day/time to be announced. The 60-minute program is hosted live by Art Hains will feature the Bears' head coach a Meyer Communications Station.
The Gateway Coaches Teleconference will take place Wednesdays from Sept. 5 to Nov. 14 at 10 a.m., with each league coach having a five-minute segment when media representatives may call in and ask questions. Coach Allen’s call-in time is 10:15 a.m. The teleconference is accessed by calling (913) 382-6696.
Football Tickets: Missouri State 2007 season tickets may still be purchased up to the first game. Tickets may be purchased during normal box office hours at Hammons Student Center/Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. Box office phone numbers are 836-7678 and 1-888-4767-TIX.
l The three winningest coaches in Gateway Football Conference history have all coached at Missouri State. Randy Ball has 98 wins at GFC schools, Terry Allen has 77 wins at GFC schools and Jesse Branch has 55 wins at GFC schools. There are no first-year head coaches in the Gateway in 2007.
l There is one new non-conference foe on this year's schedule, and Missouri State opens and closes the campaign at home with schools against whom the Bears competed in the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association until 1980. The Aug. 30 season opener with Missouri-Rolla marks the first time the Bears and Miners have hooked up since MSU left the MIAA after the 1980 season. The season finale Nov. 10 against Southeast Missouri State will be the 13th meeting between MSU and SEMO since their MIAA days. The Bears have an all-time lead of 44-28 against SEMO and are 11-1 vs. the Redhawks since moving to FCS in 1982. The Bears trail UMR, 29-26-3. The new opponent is Kansas State of the Big 12 Conference. The Wildcats represent the ninth different FBS school Missouri State will have faced since moving to FCS. Missouri State is renewing a series against Tennessee-Martin which saw MSU win all four meetings between 1995 and 2000, and the Bears and Central Arkansas renewed their series last year after not having played each other since 1951.
l Youngstown State claimed the 2006 Gateway title and advanced to the FCS playoff semifinals before losing to eventual national champion Appalachian State. Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky also represented the league in last year's playoffs and both won in the first round before losing in the quarterfinals.
l Returning Bear starters on offense include OC David Tillman, WR Jeremy Nicholson, WR Chris Geisz, FB Jeff Sargent, QB Matt Krapfl and QB Tyler Horner. Starters back on defense are LB Jeron Poole and CB Marcus Colbert. P/K Nathan Stokes led the Gateway in punting last year with a 42.8-yard average that was the second best figure for a season in Missouri State football history. Additionally, WR/KR Eric Davis was among the GFC and FCS leaders in kickoff returns and punt returns as he ran back two punts for touchdowns during the season on his way to leading the Bears in all-purpose yardage with 991 yards.
l Missouri State has had winning seasons 11 of 25 years in FCS, including league titles and I-AA playoff trips in 1989 and 1990.