Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel will be on the sidelines for his 13th season in Columbia this fall and for the first time since the 2004 season is coming off a losing record. The Tigers finished their first season in the SEC with a 5-7 record (2-6) and may have left some longtime fans questioning if the move to the uber-competitive SEC was a good move.
The previous five years while in the Big 12 conference, Pinkel’s teams averaged 9.6 wins a season and took home three Big 12 north titles while winning three of five bowl games. In fact, last season was Pinkel’s first season to end without a bowl game since that uneventful 2004 season and had appeared in a bowl game eight of the last nine years.
Last year’s struggles in the conference may not have been a big surprise, but at the same time it’s certainly not accepted and some had even wondered if Pinkel would be fired. Skeptics felt the first year in a conference that was met with a rash of injuries was not a valid reason for Missouri missing a bowl game and poked holes in his character as a secondary reason why he shouldn’t stick around any longer.
Pinkel’s personal life came under fire in mid-November in 2011 when he was arrested after police suspected him of driving while intoxicated. After Pinkel pled guilty to the charges the school suspended him for the game vs. Texas Tech, froze his salary for a year, stripped him of his Independence Bowl bonus check and according to USA Today, was fined approximately $300,000.
Pinkel signed a two-year extension in April of 2011 that runs through 2017 and while 2012 was not the typical season experienced under Pinkel’s watch, firing him would have been too short of a leash for a coach that has brought so much success to the program in his tenure.
However, if Missouri doesn’t show significant progress in the second year in the SEC, then don’t be surprised to see Pinkel on the hot seat, especially if he has a season like Gene Chizik had last year at Auburn where they only own three games and went winless in the conference.
Things can’t possibly be that bad at Missouri this year, can they?
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