Editorial: Gary Pinkel’s legacy will last far beyond his retirement

Pinkel’s departure marks the end of an era for Missouri football.
Missouri Head Coach, Gary Pinkel, gets emotional about stepping down at the end of the season during his press conference Monday morning in the Mizzou Arena.

By the gates of Memorial Stadium stands a statue of Don Faurot, the famed football coach and player whose impact on Mizzou Athletics is still visible today. Now, with the retirement of coach Gary Pinkel at the end of this season, we think another statute should be erected for the man who has had the greatest impact on MU since Faurot.

In Pinkel’s 15 seasons with MU, he has meticulously built up a program that was previously downtrodden and little-known into one of the most successful in the country. He saw the program go from a team struggling for bowl games to a regular contender for conference championships. Pinkel undoubtedly paved Missouri’s way to the Southeastern Conference, which has had an immense impact on the university in general.

As far as statistics go, Pinkel’s time as head coach has been clearly successful. Missouri football played 110 seasons prior to Pinkel’s time as head coach. During that time, they only won more than 10 games once. Since Pinkel has become head coach, they had five seasons with more than 10 wins.

He’s the winningest coach not only at Mizzou, but also at Toledo. Pinkel has received numerous awards, but perhaps the most notable was 2014 SEC Coach of the Year. Pinkel has also sent seven players to the NFL as first-round picks since 2009, with scores of others players following suit in later rounds.

But Pinkel’s impact goes far beyond statistics. He’s known and beloved as being an exemplary manager of people. Pinkel’s philosophy of coaching revolves around the concept of family. His team is, and has always been, a family.

The Pinkel philosophy focuses on the development of people, and it’s become the calling card of the Missouri football program and the athletic department as a whole. The production of brilliant student athletes like Sean Weatherspoon, Jeremy Maclin, Markus Golden, Shane Ray and so many others speak for themselves. Pinkel is all about bringing his players to their athletic peak while also making them responsible and unique adults.

Even while Pinkel’s era wasn’t free of controversy (see the numerous allegations against wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the sexual assault accusations made against Derrick Washington, his own DWI arrest, etc.), he has managed to maintain a largely positive image for himself and the program.

Through all the controversy, Pinkel’s loyalty and paternalistic attitude toward his players has resulted in an unexpected era of social progressiveness that has drawn both positive and negative attention to Mizzou.

For example, he stood by defensive end Michael Sam when he came out as gay to the Missouri football team before his senior season. Sam later became the first openly gay player selected in the NFL Draft.

Just this month, he supported his team when over 30 of his black players decided to boycott the football program until former UM System President Tim Wolfe resigned. The day after the initial announcement on Twitter, a photo of the Missouri football team standing in support of the protests was tweeted out on Pinkel’s account.

“The Mizzou Family stands as one,” Pinkel said in the tweet. “We are united. We are behind our players.”

As Pinkel bids coaching farewell, his impact on Missouri football and MU as a whole will never be forgotten. Just as the coach always says, no excuses.

“We do what we do.”

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