But plenty of variables will arise between the time Mizzou (11-2) takes on Iowa (7-5) in the Dec. 28 Insight Bowl and the start of next season, most immediately how the NFL Draft Advisory board rates the 2011 draft prospects of the four known Tigers whose names have been submitted for review.

Junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert (Parkway West), junior tight end Michael Egnew, sophomore defensive end Aldon Smith and junior defensive end Jacquies Smith each is being evaluated and would have to consider leaving if deemed a first-round pick.

The prospect of an NFL work stoppage also could be a factor in any decisions, although cases can be made both for staying to avoid the fallout and for leaving in case a rookie wage scale is imposed.

A report by ESPN.com outlined both considerations, quoting Alabama coach Nick Saban as cautioning his juniors that a work stoppage could hinder development, and an unnamed “prominent sports agent” saying, “I tell them, ‘You need to get into the system as quickly as possible. You’ll need to get to the second contract as soon as you can.’ ”

Aldon Smith said Monday that he didn’t think a potential work stoppage would sway him one way or another but added, “Everybody probably thinks differently.” As for his own considerations, he said, “Most definitely, I want to see what the feedback is and kind of weigh my options.”

MU coach Gary Pinkel shrugged off the broader question about the work stoppage and defaulted to his long-held philosophy.

“I love these kids, and I want them to do what’s best for them,” he said, adding that anyone expected to be a first-round pick should consider going unless they don’t feel ready. “I don’t spend any time thinking about it. Whatever (the advisory board says), it is. And if guys need to leave for whatever reason, they need to leave (and) we move ’em over and move ’em up and keep on going.”

Only A Finger

Second-team All-Big 12 defensive end Brad Madison suffered a broken right middle finger in a tussle at practice on Friday and won’t practice again until after MU arrives in Arizona on Wednesday.

But Pinkel had no concerns about Madison’s ability to perform, and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said, “For a defensive lineman, it (won’t) affect him at all. … A long line of guys have played with broken fingers.”

Said Aldon Smith: “I had a broken leg (fibula), so I don’t think it’s too much to worry about.”

Speaking of Smith’s leg, from the moves he flashed during Big Man 7-on-7, a glorified touch football game between offensive and defensive linemen, he appears no longer bothered by the injury he suffered in September.

“Feeling good, feeling really good,” he said.

Ticket Tally

Associate athletics director Mark Alnutt said MU sold more than 7,000 of its 11,000 tickets before returning the rest last week. That’s hundreds more than MU sold for its last two bowls, and a number he said Insight officials have indicated they are pleased with considering their past sales.

In The Wings

Although promising freshmen receivers Jimmie Hunt (Cahokia) and Bud Sasser were redshirted and Marcus Lucas played sparingly, Pinkel gushed about their futures after seeing more of them this month. Calling them as a group athletically “three of the best we’ve had here as receivers,” he added, “We’ve had some good ones, so I have to watch myself.”

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