Gary Pinkel was born on April 27, 1952, in Akron, Ohio — the same state he’d begin his coaching career two decades later. At Kent State, where he played with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Pinkel was a two-time all-conference tight end and team captain. He worked as a graduate assistant in 1974-75 at his alma mater, until he moved onto work at the same position for the University of Washington (1976). Later, he moved on as a wide receivers coach for Bowling Green State University (1977-78). Pinkel returned to Washington in 1979, where he was an assistant coach for 11 years under his mentor and former Kent State coach, Don James.
Pinkel was later promoted to offensive coordinator at Washington (1984-90) before he moved on to his first head-coaching job at the University of Toledo in 1991. There, he holds the record with the most wins in school history (73-37-3) and was voted MAC Coach of the Year in ’95.
Pinkel’s next — and final stop — would be in Columbia, Missouri, where he took over a program with just one 10-win season in school history and two winning seasons in the previous 17 years. As the head coach at the University of Missouri from 2001-15, Pinkel lead the Tigers to five 10-win or more seasons, ten winning seasons, and earned the most wins in MU history at 118-73.
Pinkel’s program at MU produced nine first-round NFL draft picks, seven bowl victories in 11 appearances, and five conference divisional championships. He earned Coach of the Year honors twice — first, in 2007 in the Big 12 and next in 2014 after Missouri’s move to the Southeastern Conference.
During his tenure as Mizzou head coach, Pinkel emphasized academics and lead the conference in Academic Progress Rate several times; he also graduated 95 percent of his seniors.
Pinkel is one of only three coaches ever to hold the most-wins for two collegiate programs — Mizzou and Toledo. He finished his career with the 20th-most wins of any coach in college football history, and is the first coach in FBS history to lead his team to the conference championship game in three different leagues: MAC, Big 12, SEC. He is an inductee of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame, Toledo Athletics Hall of Fame, Kent State Athletics Hall of Fame, and Kenmore High School Hall of Fame.