Coach Gary Pinkel resigned as head football coach of the Mizzou Tigers a few weeks ago due to health reasons. The team played inspired for their coach on November 14 at Arrowhead against BYU. But the last two games were very typical of this lackluster season ending with a loss to rival Arkansas on November 27. Final record of 5-7. We were invited to a bowl game (yes, even with a losing record) but declined because we're in the middle of a coaching search. Season done.
This is definitely not how I thought the season would go. And I'm sure it's definitely NOT how Coach Pinkel thought his last season would go. But I'm not going to remember him for this season. Not at all. Do you know why?
I remember when the Tigers always had a losing season. Bob Stull was the head coach when I was a student at Mizzou. We were lucky if we had one win. Larry Smith was the next coach. He wasn't much better, but we did have two winning seasons. We went to the Holiday Bowl in 1997 and the Insight.com Bowl in 1998 under his watch. That was pretty exciting and new. Bowl games were not a regular thing. They were a gift.
Gary Pinkel was hired in 2000. His first few seasons were really rough. It probably wasn't until 2005 when we won the Independence Bowl against South Carolina that Mizzou football became exciting.
Winning seasons became a regular thing and bowl games were expected....which is why this season is so bittersweet.
But I remember...
- beating Nebraska in 2003 for the first time in 24 years.
- being the number 1 team in the nation!
- playing back to back Big 12 Championships (and I went to both games).
- our team becoming the "Beast from the East" of the SEC.
- remember earning that title again!
Coach Pinkel put Mizzou football on the map. He has the most wins as a coach of all time earning that with the Cotton Bowl victory in 2014. When I watch Monday Night Football, I look forward to hearing NFL players say they went to the University of Missouri. You make me proud as a football fan and fellow tiger.
Thank you, Coach, for all of the memories you have provided for me and my family. You're the only coach my kids have ever known. You are Mizzou football to them. Your many accomplishments will remain in our hearts forever.
With every ending there is a new beginning! Thank you for bringing Barry Odom back to Mizzou! You know, you kinda hand-picked your successor. How cool is that? Now that the new coach has been named, I'm looking forward to the future. Go Tigers!
"And a bully for ol' Mizzou!"