Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Coach Watches Verdict, Recruited Jason Simpson at Usc

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Coach Watches Verdict, Recruited Jason Simpson at Usc

Article excerpt

As it did across the nation, the impending verdict in the O.J. Simpson case brought proceedings to a standstill at the University of Missouri football complex at noon Tuesday.

With two televisions on in the cafeteria where he holds his weekly press conference, MU coach Larry Smith - who gave Simpson's son, Jason, a scholarship to Southern Cal - somberly watched along with about 20 media members before he began business.

Smith, the former USC coach, said he knew Simpson because of Simpson's son and his broadcast work with the school.

"He came around and supported the program," Smith said, casually adding, "Early."

But Jason Simpson lasted at USC for only a year before leaving and one Mizzou insider suggested O.J. Simpson had blamed Smith for his son's failure. Smith, fired by USC after the 1992 season, said he got no guff from Simpson but added, "I never heard anything from him the last three years."

If O.J. mania seemed to be everywhere, though, there was at least one remaining buffer zone. The normally busy Mandarin House restaurant in the Columbia Mall was empty at 1:45 p.m., and waitresses were pleased to get the news of Simpson.

"So that is why no customers," said one, from Beijing. "This is America."

Back In Action: After a bye week, the Tigers (2-2) will play Saturday at 13th-ranked Kansas State (4-0). The Wildcats are coming off successive shutouts - albeit against Akron and Northern Illinois - for the first time since 1973 and have scored 117 successive points without being scored upon.

Smith said MU used the time off to work on its passing game, which may feature a new target, its pass rush and to get "healthied up." Defensive lineman Steve Martin is expected to return to limited action after missing most of the last two games with a knee injury. Center Russ Appel is the only Tiger expected to be unavailable.

As for the pass game, Smith said he is looking for ways to get freshman flash Devin West in the game more. …

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