- 2009 Toledo Athletic Hall of Fame
- 2007 FieldTurf National Coach of the Year
- 2007 Finalist for Robinson, Bryant and Munger Awards
- 2007 Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year
- 1997 Kent Athletic Hall of Fame
- 1995 MAC Coach of the Year
In 12 years at the University of Missouri, Gary Pinkel has meticulously built a previously downtrodden program into one of the most successful in the nation. With 48 wins in a recent five-season span (ranking as 9th-most in the nation from 2007-11), three division titles (2007, 08, 10), and a school-record seven-consecutive bowl game appearances (2005-11), Pinkel’s vision for success has come to fruition, and is pointed toward bright things to come.
Pinkel’s leadership played a crucial role in the University of Missouri being in position to join the vaunted Southeastern Conference in November of 2011.
His vision for the future was stamped for approval in June of 2012, when the Missouri Board of Curators okayed a 200-million dollar construction project master plan – the majority of which will go to improving and expanding football facilities.
Mizzou’s first year in the football-dominant SEC certainly didn’t go as planned in 2012, as the Tigers faced what was ranked as the nation’s toughest schedule (Sagarin). Injuries which decimated the usually-potent Tiger offense took their toll and factored heavily into MU’s 5-7 season.
Determined to rebound in 2013, Pinkel enters his 13th year at Mizzou with 90 wins, and needs just four more to pass the legendary Dan Devine for second on the MU career wins chart. He’s also within reach of Mizzou’s record-holder, Don Faurot, who won 101 games in 19 seasons (1935-42, 1946-56).
Pinkel has a strong track-record of success to point to.
Mizzou played in a school-record seventh-straight bowl game in 2011, and ended with an 8-5 record after a dominating 41-24 win over North Carolina in the Independence Bowl. The final record was impressive considering it came in a year in which the Tigers were challenged with key injuries while facing a schedule that was ranked as the seventh-toughest in the nation (Sagarin). Pinkel led his team to wins over three bowl teams in the regular season (Texas, Texas A&M, Iowa State), while all five of MU’s losses came at the hands of bowl-bound opponents.
A testament to the consistency that Pinkel and his staff have developed at Mizzou is the fact that MU was one of only six schools in BCS-AQ conferences to have posted at least eight wins each season from 2006-11. The others in that very select group included: LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
In 2010, Mizzou posted its third 10-win season in four years under Pinkel, as MU went 10-3 overall, including a 6-2 mark in Big 12 Conference play that earned them a spot atop the North Division rankings for the third time since 2007. Included among those 10 wins was a watershed moment for the program, and for Tiger Nation overall – a 36-27 win over top-ranked Oklahoma on Homecoming, which marked the first-ever win by Mizzou over a #1-ranked team.
A sign of growing respect for the work that Pinkel and his staff has done to build the program came along with that win over Oklahoma. That week, Mizzou was the focal point of the entire college football universe, as ESPN sent its wildly popular traveling show, “ESPN GameDay,” to the MU campus. A record crowd of an estimated 18,000 Tiger fans packed the picturesque Francis Quadrangle for the Saturday morning show, and made everyone associated with the school glow with pride. A national audience watched the GameDay program, and then the nation promptly watched the Tigers pull away in the fourth quarter against the Sooners to move to 7-0 on a season for only the third time in school history.
Pinkel ranks third on Mizzou’s all-time coaching wins list with his 90-61 record. He is in a select group of MU coaches that includes College Football Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine, as well as Warren Poweres, as the only coaches to have an MU record above .500 dating back to 1935.
Pinkel has guided Mizzou to eight bowl games, surpassing the previous MU record of six he previously held along with Dan Devine. With wins in the 2008 AT&T Cotton Bowl (38-7 over Arkansas) and in the 2008 Valero Alamo Bowl (30-23 over Northwestern), Pinkel became the first coach to lead the Tigers to bowl victories in consecutive seasons since Powers did the trick in 1981 and 1982.
Over the past 10 seasons, Pinkel has led Missouri to a 81-47 record (63.3%) and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl, Pinkel has won 62 of his last 93 games overall (66.7%). He is the first coach in school history to earn seven straight bowl berths.
His success has led to an increased commitment to the Tiger Football program from the University, as Pinkel was awarded with a two-year contract extension in April of 2011 that will keep him on the Tiger sidelines through the 2017 season. With eight winning seasons, Pinkel has directed MU to eight of the 10 winning campaigns the school has had overall since the 1983 season.
Pinkel’s 12-year record at Mizzou stands at 90-61, and in his 22 years overall as a head coach, his teams have a 163-98-3 overall mark (62.3%).
With a school-record 12 wins in 2007 and 10 more in 2008, MU’s two-year win total of 22 was third-most in the nation during that stretch, trailing only USC (23) and Oklahoma (23). The back-to-back 10-win seasons marked the first such occurrence in Mizzou history, and Pinkel has now directed three of the four double-digit win seasons in school annals.
In 2007, Pinkel guided Mizzou to arguably the greatest season in school history. Among the myriad achievements that year included a school-record 12 wins, claiming MU’s first New Year’s Day bowl victory since 1966, winning the program’s first-ever Big 12 North Division crown, and earning a No. 1 Associated Press national ranking for the first time since 1960 and coming up one win shy of playing for the national championship.
To simply list the highlights surrounding Pinkel’s renaissance in Columbia would not do his body of work justice. It has all been the culmination of hard work and determination that began after his hiring on Nov. 30, 2000.
While Pinkel himself would say that it is still a work in progress, his program’s numerous accomplishments can be highlighted, which helps to tell this story of football success in Mid-Missouri.
In achieving the program’s first No. 1 national ranking since 1960, Missouri raced to a 5-0 start in 2007, including wins over a Rose Bowl bound Illinois team and perennial nemesis Nebraska. The Tigers averaged nearly 42 points per game in those five wins and only a late flurry of points by the Fighting Illini kept any of those games in doubt.
While eventual Big 12 Champion Oklahoma was the lone stumbling block for Pinkel’s squad in 2007, the Tigers set numerous school records, including school marks for wins (12), points per game (39.9), total points (558) and total offense (6,864 yards). Most of the offensive records were broken again one year later, as the Tigers’ potent spread attack upped those marks to 42.2 points per game, 591 total points in 2008.
For his outstanding achievements both on and off the field in 2007, Pinkel was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards, including the Robinson, Bryant and Munger awards. He also was named the National Coach of the Year by FieldTurf in 2007.
In winning a school-record 12 games in 2007, Mizzou clearly caught the attention of the national football community, as the Tigers began the season unranked but quickly darted up the charts with wins over bowl teams such as Illinois, Texas Tech and Colorado. And after the Tigers defeated arch rival and 2nd-ranked Kansas on Nov. 24th, Mizzou stood atop the college football world, ranked number one for the first and only time since 1960. Mizzou was featured on every college football television show after, and also graced the covers of virtually every prominent national sporting publication, including Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and USA Today.
While the 2007 Tigers cashed in on the steady growth of the program over the previous six seasons, the Tigers also enjoyed an exciting 2006 campaign that saw them win eight regular-season games for just the 10th time in school history, and Missouri’s appearance in the Brut Sun Bowl marked MU’s third bowl game in four seasons – the first time in 25 years that Mizzou had reached three bowls in four years.
Pinkel and his program successfully built on the momentum created from a scintillating 38-31 win over South Carolina in the 2005 Independence Bowl that saw his Tigers overcome a 21-point deficit. The thrilling win marked the largest come-from-behind win in school history, and it gave Mizzou only its second bowl win in the previous 24 years.
After taking over a program that had fallen on hard times in 2001, Pinkel had increased success in each of his first three seasons, improving from four wins in 2001 to five wins in 2002, to the 2003 squad which went 8-5 and made the school’s third bowl appearance since 1983.
Long considered a “sleeping giant” of a program, Mizzou had a breakthrough 2003 season under Pinkel’s guidance.
The list of accomplishments turned in by the 2003 team was impressive:
- The eight regular-season wins marked the first time since 1980 – and only the 4th time since 1960 – that MU had amassed that many wins in the regular season. The team became only the 9th in MU’s history to accomplish the feat…
- MU went a perfect 6-0 at Faurot Field that season, with the win total marking a school record for one season at home. Mizzou had never won more than five games at Faurot, which opened as Memorial Stadium in 1926. It also marked MU’s first unblemished home season since the 1974 team went 5-0…
- Mizzou’s 41-24 win over #10 Nebraska on Oct. 11th was one for the history books, as it broke a 24-game losing streak to the Huskers for MU, making Pinkel the first Tiger coach to beat Nebraska since Warren Powers in 1978…
- The Nebraska win also marked MU’s first win over a top-10 opponent since 1981, breaking a string of 45 straight losses to top-10 foes for the school.
The 31st head coach in the program’s history, Pinkel was hired on Nov. 30, 2000, and began immediately to prove to his colleagues, alumni, fans and student-athletes that Tiger Football could be a national player.
After a rebuilding year in 2001, Pinkel had Mizzou much improved in his 2nd campaign – and playing for bowl eligibility entering the Tigers’ final game of the season. Tough losses to 3rd-ranked Oklahoma (on a late fourth quarter fake field goal), to 18th-ranked Colorado (in overtime) and a last-second loss at 22nd-ranked Iowa State were all that kept Mizzou out of a bowl game.
Pinkel opened the 2002 campaign by leading MU to one of the program’s most impressive season-opening wins in recent history when Mizzou dismantled Illinois – the defending Big Ten Conference champions and a 2001 BCS Bowl team – 33-20 in St. Louis, Mo. He later defeated Mizzou’s heated rival, the Kansas Jayhawks, as MU downed Kansas 36-12 to give him a 2-0 record vs. KU – making him only the third coach in school history to win his first two encounters against Kansas.
Pinkel came to Missouri after spending 10 very successful years as head coach at Toledo, where he amassed an impressive 73-37-3 record (65.9%).
The school’s alltime winningest coach, Pinkel’s last six teams there went a combined 50-18-1 overall. Three of those teams advanced to play in the post-season, capturing one Mid-American Conference championship and three MAC West Division titles. Three of his last five teams at Toledo were ranked in the nation’s top 25. His 1995 squad went 11-0-1, and was one of just two schools (national champ Nebraska was the other) to finish the season without a loss.
For his accomplishments at Toledo, Pinkel was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in February of 2009.
Prior to becoming a head coach, Pinkel learned the trade from one of the alltime great coaches, the legendary Don James. For 12 years as an assistant under James at Washington (1979-90), Pinkel helped guide the Huskies to a combined record of 104-37-2 (73.4%) and three Pac-10 Conference titles. He served as UW’s offensive coordinator for seven seasons (1984-90), and helped mold one of the nation’s most potent offensive attacks.
Pinkel played under James at Kent State University, where he was an all-conference and honorable mention All-American tight end. He graduated in 1973.
Pinkel graduated from Kenmore High School in Akron, Ohio, and received his bachelor of science degree in education from Kent in 1973. He did post-graduate studies at Kent and Bowling Green, and in 1997 was inducted into the Kent Athletic Hall of Fame. He was born April 27, 1952.