Tigers mum on Steckel rumors

Simon said Steckel is like a father to him

Before Missouri senior safety Ian Simon could answer a question about Mizzou being distracted during the long break prior to its bowl game, senior defensive end Shane Ray interrupted.

“Distractions,” Ray said in a hushed, sarcastic tone behind a huddle of reporters, implying the nonexistence of such.

The storyline that would seemingly be the biggest cause for diverged attention — the rumor that Mizzou defensive coordinator Dave Steckel will become the head football coach at Missouri State — is one the Tigers said they have little information on.

“I don’t know nothing, man,” senior defensive end Markus Golden said. “Only thing I know about Steck is he a great coach, and I’m glad I got to play for him.”

Steckel began under Missouri coach Gary Pinkel in 1993, when Pinkel was at Toledo. After one season with the Rockets, Steckel coached as an assistant at Rutgers before rejoining Pinkel’s staff at Mizzou in 2001 as a linebackers coach.

Steckel has been the Tigers’ defensive coordinator since the 2009-2010 season, and he took on the additional responsibilities of associate head coach in 2011.

Simon called the news of Steckel’s supposed move “the last thing I would’ve expected to hear that day.”

“He’s been like a dad to me in my four years here,” Simon said. “I love him.”

Mizzou defensive backs coach Cornell Ford said he too had no confirmation of Steckel’s rumored departure.

If Steckel is to leave, Ford said, he doesn’t think there is a Mizzou coach who wouldn’t want to be defensive coordinator.

Mizzou defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski is a man who has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Steckel. Kuligowski did not speak to media Sunday.

“I think he has a great understanding of our defense,” Ray said. “He’s respected by all the players. He has great production in the d-line room. I think coach Kug would be no drop off. I think he would handle business well. He’s a coach; that’s what they do.”

Missouri State is rumored to announce Steckel’s hiring today at a news conference scheduled for 5 p.m.

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