Column: Maty Mauk endured more than most, won football games at Missouri

The former Mr. Football in Ohio, the former All-SEC freshman, the guy that returned the black and gold to national prominence now has no affiliation to the football team he became so accustomed to leading week-in and week-out.
Quarterback Maty Mauk celebrates after scrambling 17 yards for a score against Florida Oct. 19, 2013, in Columbia. Mauk threw for 295 yards and a touchdown.

Imagining what it’d be like to be the face of a university and go through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows is almost, well, unimaginable for most people. But not for Maty Mauk.

So distant seem days like Dec. 7, 2013, when Missouri earned a spot in the SEC Championship for the first time. So distant seem days like Dec. 6, 2014, when Missouri returned to play in Atlanta after the school’s second SEC East title. They seem so distant to the fans, media and college football world alike, but imagine how distant they seem to Mauk himself.

It’s Jan. 29, 2016, 839 days since a shoulder injury to former quarterback James Franklin sent Mauk to the helm of the sports team that is the heart and soul of the university. And so much has changed since that moment.

Let’s go back to then, shall we? Mauk, a three-star recruit from Kenton, Ohio, was slated to manage a Tigers team that was 6-0 in the school’s second year in the SEC. No pressure, right? In his first start against Florida on Oct. 19, Mauk set standards high. His first pass was a 41-yard completion to L’Damian Washington, and his second was a 20-yard strike to Bud Sasser for a touchdown. Missouri prevailed in that game, 36-17, and though Franklin did return later in the year and ultimately started in the SEC championship, Mauk was the glue that held the team together through that stretch. After the Florida game, former Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel — who some said was on the hot seat heading into that season — spoke about his redshirt freshman quarterback: “I couldn't be more pleased with him. If you looked at him in high school, that's what you saw on tape every time you saw him play. He's a playmaker.” That’s what Mauk was his entire career at MU. Great arm? Maybe not. Great accuracy? I wouldn’t say that. But a great playmaker? Nobody could deny that after his first start, and nobody can deny that now. It was his ability to create things out of nothing that worked in 2013 and again in 2014, when he became the full-time starter. Through the first five games in his sophomore year, Mauk threw 14 touchdowns and four interceptions and Missouri was 4-1 — with the one loss coming to Indiana. Then, against Georgia on Oct. 11, 2014, Mauk had quite possibly the worst game of his career, throwing four interceptions in a 34-0 loss. Memes were made, tweets were sent and Mauk was in hot water. Again, though, Mauk held the team together. Missouri won its next six games on the back of 11 touchdowns thrown by Mauk and, after a win versus Arkansas, the Tigers returned to the SEC Championship but lost to Alabama. Heading into 2015 with Sasser gone and the receiving core depleted, Mauk faced a tough task. Not to mention a freshman quarterback by the name of Drew Lock who came along to add pressure. Three suspensions and a dismissal later, Maty Mauk is no longer a member of Missouri’s football team. You’d be hard pressed to find a student-athlete in Missouri history who’s gone through more than Mauk. Remember [the scooter arrest]( more than four years ago? As a true freshman, a midnight scooter ride led to a trip to jail. At 12:17 a.m. Aug. 30, 2012, Mauk ran a stop sign with two women on board and was taken to jail after driving away from cops. That was just a glimpse into the nightmare that ensued during his junior year. After opening 3-0, Missouri lost to Kentucky on Sept. 26. Three days later, Mauk was first suspended Sept. 29 for violating team rules. A week after being reinstated, on Nov. 1, he was suspended for the remainder of the season. Then, on Dec. 23, coach Barry Odom reinstated Mauk. "I believe in guys having opportunities and chances," Odom said. "I wanted to hear really what he wanted. Did he want to be here? Did he want to get his degree? Does he want to play football?" He might have, but a video that surfaced Monday showing Mauk snorting a white powder put Mauk back on indefinite suspension and ultimately derailed any chance to return to field. "After gathering information and speaking with a number of individuals this week, it is clear Maty has failed to live up to those expectations by violating team rules in recent weeks," Odom said in a statement announcing Mauk’s dismissal. The former Mr. Football in Ohio, the former All-SEC freshman, the guy that returned the black and gold to national prominence now has no affiliation with the football team he led week-in and week-out. It has to be hard for Mauk, sure, but you can’t take away the two-year stretch that will go down as one of the most successful in Mizzou history. Mauk threw 42 touchdowns at Missouri, won two bowl games and most importantly, led Missouri to back-to-back SEC East championships. After a Kentucky game in his redshirt freshman year in which Mauk threw five touchdowns to tie a record set by Chase Daniel, Franklin said, "He's a great player, and he came in and made a lot of good throws and some good runs and helped us get a lot of wins." That’s what Mauk did. When Pinkel needed them most and when the fans wanted them most, Mauk won football games. “There is one thing I am very sure of — how incredibly thankful I am for the overwhelming support I have felt from the athletic department, the coaches, academics, my teammates and most all from the fans,” Mauk wrote in a hand-written statement. “I will continue to make myself the best I can be. I wish the Mizzou football program the best.”

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