Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel: A coach in the truest sense

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Wednesday, July 15, 2015, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Wednesday, July 15, 2015, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Pinkel on the podium. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Hoover, Ala. — If you’re asking who’s my favorite college football coach, the answer is Gary Pinkel of Missouri. It’s not that he’s quotable. (He’s not very.) It’s not that he has won a bunch of national titles. (He has none.) It’s not that he works for my alma mater. (He doesn’t.) I just like the way the guy conducts his business.

He has won the SEC East two years running. (For the record, Mizzou was picked sixth in the division in 2013, fourth last year.) His program has outperformed Georgia and Florida and Tennessee, schools with more illustrious football pedigrees, and has done it not simply by signing a bunch of really good players but by turning fair-to-middling signees into really good players.

Over the past 10 years, Rivals has rated Missouri’s recruiting classes thusly: 47th, 33rd, 25th, 40th, 21st, 48th, 31st, 41st, 34th and 27th. That perceived lack of talent was the reason Mizzou was seen as a ride-along when Texas A&M shouldered its way into the SEC. The Tigers might help their new league in basketball, the thinking went, but not in the One True Sport.

Wrong. Mizzou graced the SEC championship game twice in its first three seasons. Didn’t win either time, but still: That’s some good football-playin’ by the school that didn’t figure to play much football, and much of that had to do with coaching.

Pinkel is no orator. His session before the assembled media here Wednesday ended before its allotted time. Nobody could think of anything else to ask. “We’re not going to change a lot of what we do because what we do works,” Pinkel said, and he mentioned that the program’s slogan was “Mizzou Made.” Meaning: You might not be much when you arrive here, but if you pay attention and work hard, we’ll make a player of you.

Said Pinkel: “They don’t have to be great football players. We can teach them how to be great football players.”

If you can think of a program better at player development, please advise. I cannot. Pinkel again: “We think we do it as well as anybody in the country.”

Someone wondered if Pinkel would notice where the media picks his Tigers to finish. (The voting will be announced Thursday.) He said he wouldn’t. “If you picked us first or third or fourth or fifth, it would have no impact on me at all,” he said.

When most coaches express such a sentiment, you know they’re fibbing. You get the feeling Pinkel is telling the truth. He cares nothing for style. He’s a coach in the truest sense, meaning that he’s at base a teacher. He always credits Don James, the former Washington coach, as his mentor, which means that, once upon a time, Pinkel was smart enough to be taught.

As much as I admire what this program has done, I’d pick Missouri third in the East. (Behind Tennessee and Georgia, ahead of Florida and South Carolina.) But we probably should stopped being shocked by anything Gary Pinkel does, don’t you think?

From earlier Wednesday: Bama’s Saban has been reduced to making excuses.

From Tuesday: Could Tennessee’s “defining moment” come against UGA?

From earlier Tuesday: The great Spurrier is surely nearing an end.

From Monday: Auburn-Louisville — the all-time Atlanta hate game.

From earlier Monday: Auburn banks on a big QB with a big arm.

Reader Comments 1

17 comments
Jimmyliscious
Jimmyliscious

I think that UCF does a great job of getting the most out of their players. Blake Bortles, converted tight end 3rd pick in NFL draft. Breshad Perriman lightly recruited, picked in first round this year. Lots of lineman undrafted making teams in the NFL.

JnBnENelson
JnBnENelson

Lots of respect for Coach Pinkel and the job he does at Mizzou.  This article is spot-on.  One of those higher-rated classes (in the 30's) was just because he got Dorial Green-Bekham to sign, and he never really produced at an elite level.  

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

Outperformed UGA Mark? The Tigers beat an injury plagued Bulldog team in 2013, and LOST the other two meetings, including a 34-NAUGHT shutout in 2014. It must not take much of a journalistic pedigree to slobber, I mean write for the ATL rag. That being said, I think Pinkel is a class act. I thought I would bust a gut when Finebaum asked Saban about his underacheiving against top ten teams, along with Saban's own boy McElroy. Saban:"I did not know Oklahoma was a top ten team". That and his whining about the NFL draft grade made him look like the baby that he is.

Samoan Redcoat
Samoan Redcoat

In Sept., 2000 he took his Rockets to Happy Valley and beat PSU pretty good.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Guy reminds me of CPJ.........does more with less!

dawg fan
dawg fan

Pinkel takes a bunch of 2 and 3 stars and wins SEC East titles.  Richt takes a bunch of 4 and 5 stars and wins the Belk Bowl.


That tells you everything you need to know. 

WDE
WDE

@dawg fan tells us your a troll , CMR won the East two years running and you acted like that was nothing Pinkel does the same and he is the next Bear, your a troll and that tells all we need to know.

Boses
Boses

I think he's been rumored to be the next UDub couch a few times, which says two things:

He's considered highly

He's loyal

GTBob
GTBob

Pinkel was actually a bit on the hot seat when his team was struggling to compete in the Big 12. Moving to the SEC (particularly the SEC east) was the best thing that ever happened to his career.

Biggdawg1
Biggdawg1

Um...No. He won 12, 10, 8 , 10 and 8 before coming to the SEC. two big 12 north titles. He was one of the most secure coaches in the country.

GTBob
GTBob

@Biggdawg1 Um...yes. There was plenty of talk in those days about firing him and his off the field issues weren't helping much.

Debbie Cake
Debbie Cake

@Biggdawg1  Pinkel got a DWI in '11 and Mizzou had a miserable first year in the SEC, mainly b/c of a ridiculous number of injuries, namely qb Franklin.  That was when the hot seat talk started.  Pinkel's led Mizzou to some very good seasons and got them competing for Big 12 titles. 


The main point of GTBob's post was to take a shot at the SEC, specifically the SEC East, and by extension, UGA.  Yes, a fan of Tech and the ACC taking a shot at UGA and the SEC.  That squib kick has created some newfound pride and nerve.

GTBob
GTBob

@Debbie Cake I was taking shots at the SEC long before the squib kick. Missouri was good enough to represent the SEC East in the SEC championship last year. However, they weren't good enough to beat Indiana. They haven't been a very good team in years, they just appear to be better than they are because they are coasting through a weak SEC East.

swb7
swb7

@GTBob @Debbie Cake 34-0 UGA Missouri last year Bob. Don't think its about Missouri coasting as it is UGA losing games they shouldn't, and you know all about that as you talk about it every day. 

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