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"Covering College Football Coaching from Miami to Honolulu"







Age:  56

School:  Missouri

Alma Mater:  Kent State, 1973

Conference:  Big 12

Salary:  $1,875,000

Official Bio:

Years Coaching:  17

Career Record:  122 - 74 - 3   .613

Years at School:  7

Record at Missouri:  49 - 37  .570

2007 Record:  12 - 2   .857

2007 Cost per Win:  $91,667




December 2008 Buyout:  $1,120,000


Year School Record Bowl
1991 Toledo 5-5-1  
1992 Toledo 8-3  
1993 Toledo 4-7  
1994 Toledo 6-4-1  
1995 Toledo 11-0-1 Las Vegas
1996 Toledo 7-4  
1997 Toledo 9-3  
1998 Toledo 7-5  
1999 Toledo 6-5  
2000 Toledo 10-1  
2001 Missouri 4-7  
2002 Missouri 5-7  
2003 Missouri 8-5 Independence
2004 Missouri 5-6  
2005 Missouri 7-5 Independence
2006 Missouri 8-5 Sun
2007 Missouri 12-2 Cotton
Career   122-74-3 .613
  Missouri 49-37 .570


Date Opponent Location 2008 CHS Prediction Result
8/30/08 Illinois St. Louis, MO W  
9/06/08 SW Missouri State Columbia, MO W  
9/13/08 Nevada Columbia, MO W  
9/20/08 Buffalo Columbia, MO W  
10/04/08 at Nebraska Lincoln, NE W  
10/11/08 Oklahoma State Columbia, MO W  
10/18/08 at Texas Austin, TX L  
10/25/08 Colorado Columbia, MO W  
11/01/08 at Baylor Waco, TX W  
11/08/08 Kansas State Columbia, MO W  
11/15/08 at Iowa State Ames, IA W  
11/29/08 Kansas Kansas City, MO W  
   Coaches Hot Seat Prediction   11-1  


Coaches Hot Seat Analysis

One of the most interesting things to take a look at in the world of college coaching are the coaching trees that have spun off the top head coaches in the game today.  Gary Pinkel played football at Kent State for one of the all-time greatest coaches in Don James, and he coached on James' staff at Washington for 13 seasons.  Anyone that got to see those James' coached teams at Washington knows they were some of the toughest and most fundamentally sound of that era, and no doubt Pinkel took a lot of what he learned from James and applied them to his stints at Toledo and Missouri.  Now that Gary Pinkel is starting to have some big success in Columbia, we believe two things are driving the Missouri football program forward:


1.  The continuity of the Missouri coaching staff under Pinkel

2.  Pinkel's changed view of life and of his players after the death of Missouri player Aaron O'Neal during an off-season workout in July 2005.


Heading into his 8th season at Missouri, Gary Pinkel has the same staff that he arrived in Columbia with, and that is just unheard of in the world of college football.  Surely, many of Pinkel's assistants have gotten offers from other schools, and maybe even head coaching jobs offers, but somehow Pinkel has kept his staff together and that certainly gives Missouri an advantage in recruiting and in consistency of message to the Tiger players.  The second major factor driving Pinkel and the Tigers forward is how the death of Aaron O'Neal affected Pinkel, which has led to a change in his coaching style, with Pinkel now really recognizing the life and importance of each player on his team.  The majority of coaches that played college football through the 1970s had one type of football coach, a hard-ass that rode his players to hopefully get the most out of each of them (Tom Osborne at Nebraska was a notable exception to this style of coaching).  By the mid-1980s football coaches started to realize that personally demeaning players or riding them all the time in a negative way, was not getting the most out their players, and football coaches started to change their style by the early 90s, sometimes in very significant ways.  It wasn't that football coaches were less tougher on their players, just that the smart coaches started in many ways looking at their players in the same way they looked at their own kids, because good parents realize that with their own kids they have both love and expectations, and with expectations comes discipline.  With the death of Aaron O'Neal in 2005 Gary Pinkel started to look at his players in a different way, more like a parent than a coach, and Pinkel admitted as much by saying at the time:


"After Aaron O'Neal died," Pinkel said, "I looked back and said, 'I wish I would have hugged him a little bit more when he was around.' "

"I've let my guard down," Pinkel said.

"I'm more huggie, grabbie," Pinkel said, searching for the right words. "I've let my guard down. I'd have never done that 10 years ago. But I started trusting my players. Trusting in them."

With trust comes power, and when a head football coach puts trust in his players to do the right thing both on and off the field, then the players know exactly where they stand, and that empowers them to choose how to act in life and how to compete on the football field.  A football team that chooses to do the right things, instead of being forced into the doing the right by their coaches, is a mighty force on a football field, and you can look no further than the football programs at USC and Ohio State to see places where players are both coached well and extremely personally empowered. 


Anyone that got to see Missouri play in 2006 could tell that the Tigers were coming together as a football team, and after a big win over Illinois to start the 07 season, Missouri was off and running to a 12-2 record.  One of us here at Coaches Hot Seat found our way to Columbia for Missouri's spring practices and found a very powerful unifying force surrounding the Tigers football program, that only exists around football teams that are working together for a common goal.  We have not found that team "force" very often in the game, and there are even very top football programs that can play at a very high level (Oklahoma from the last couple of years comes to mind), that are not playing as one team, and teams like that often have several serious letdowns throughout the season.


From where we sit, Missouri looks loaded for bear in 2008, and it will probably come down to them staying healthy, playing well in the handful of key games on the schedule, and really playing well at home in Columbia.  Let's take a look at how we see the '08 season playing out...


Coaches Hot Seat Bottom Line

We predict that Gary Pinkel and Missouri will have a 11-1 record in 2008.  Missouri's 2008 season starts with one of the best games of the year, as Missouri meets Ron Zook and the Illini in St. Louis.  This MU-UI game in '07 was one of the best of the year, and this should be another barnburner, but we see Missouri coming out with the win in the end.  After one game, Missouri is 1-0.  SW Missouri State visits Columbia in week 2, and this should be a pretty easy win for the Tigers.  After two games, Missouri is 2-0.  Chris Ault and Nevada travel to Columbia in week 3, and this should be a fascinating game to watch between two teams that have probably never met before.  Chris Ault has a very unique "Pistol" offense, and they might give the Tigers some troubles at the beginning of the game, but Missouri will pull away in the 2nd half to get a convincing win.  After three games, Missouri is 3-0.  Turner Gill brings his Buffalo team to Big 12 country to play Missouri in week 4, and although it will be interesting to see how far Gill has brought his team, MU should be able to get an easy win in this game.  After four games, Missouri is 4-0.  The Big 12 season gets underway in week 5 with Missouri traveling to Lincoln to play Bo Pelini's Huskers.  In '07 Missouri beat Nebraska 41-6 in Columbia, but this year's Husker team is not going to lay down if the Tigers jump out to an early lead.  The biggest change that Missouri will notice in Nebraska this year is that when a ball carrier gets tackled, he is going to be tackled in a very aggressive manner with several Huskers arriving to make sure that the tackle is not soon forgotten.  Pelini will have the Huskers fired up for this visit by Missouri, but the Tigers will have too much for Nebraska in this game.  After five games, Missouri is 5-0.  Mike Gundy and the Cowboys arrive in Columbia in week 6, and this will be a game where if Missouri is not paying attention, they could easily stumble against OSU.  In a closer game than expected, Missouri gets a 10 point win or so, to run the Tiger record to 6-0.  One of the biggest Big 12 games of the year arrives in week 7, when Missouri travels to Austin to play the Longhorns.  If Missouri wants an undefeated regular season, this may be the toughest game on the slate, because we hear that Texas is going to be a much different team than what the Longhorns have put on the field in the last couple of seasons.  With Will Muschamp on the defensive side of the ball for Texas, the Longhorn players are going to be playing a lot more physical football, and Missouri had better be prepared for a very physical football game in Austin.  In a game that has a lot of scoring, we see Texas getting the win over Missouri in the 4th quarter, which drops the Missouri record to 6-1.  Dan Hawkins and Colorado arrive in Columbia in week 8 and the Buffs should be an improved team over the '06 and '07 editions under The Hawk.  In another closer game than expected, Missouri gets the win over Colorado, to raise their record to 7-1.  Missouri travels to Waco, Texas in week 9 to play Art Briles Baylor team, and this will be a much different Baylor team in the coming years than the Big 12 has gotten accustomed to.  In a close game into the 3rd quarter, Missouri pulls away finally to get a good win on the road in the Big 12, which raises their record to 8-1.  Kansas State visits Missouri in week 10 and this is another game where the Tigers will need to be ready to play or risk a big upset at home.  Missouri should be able to handle KSU, and another win runs the Tigers record to

9-1.  Missouri travels to Iowa State in week 11 and Gene Chizik doesn't have the horses yet in Ames to compete against the top teams in the Big 12, and a win by the Tigers in this spot runs the MU record to 10-1.  Missouri again ends the season in Kansas City against the Kansas Jayhawks, and KU should come into this game with another good record and a very good football team.  In another very good MU-KU match-up, Missouri gets the win to run their final regular season record to 11-1.


A 11-1 record by Missouri would match-up the Tigers against Oklahoma again in the Big 12 Championship Game, and this year's edition should be a lot better than the 38-17 beatdown that the Sooners laid on Missouri in '08.  If Gary Pinkel does put up another 11-1 regular season record, it will have been quite an accomplishment from the 5-6 meltdown by Pinkel's Missouri team in 2004.  The challenge for Pinkel going forward will be the same for every coach, as best described by former North Carolina head football coach Bill Dooley: 


"Win or lose, one thing is always the same - you can't relax."


2008 Coaches Hot Seat Prediction:    11-1


Will Gary Pinkel be back for the 2009 season?      YES










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