‘We found our guy:’ Drinkwitz introduced as Missouri’s new head football coach

Drinkwitz won the Sun Belt Championship at Appalachian State in 2019.
Missouri's new football coach Eliah Drinkwitz embraces App State chancellor Sheri Everts after defeating UNC with the Mountaineers in 2019. Photo Courtesy of The Appalachian (Lynette Files)

Missouri has its new football coach.

Three hours after the UM System Board of Curators unanimously voted to approve the contract for Eliah Drinkwitz as Missouri’s 33rd head football coach, he was introduced to the MU community. Former coach Gary Pinkel, basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, a few current players and hundreds of fans gathered inside the Show-Me Club to meet the new man at the helm.

“He’s very special,” Athletic Director Jim Sterk said. “He’s got that magnetic personality that makes his players he coaches and everyone he meets to give him their very best.”

Drinkwitz will make $4 million per year for six seasons with several added incentives. If Missouri fires him without cause, it will owe him 70% of his salary each year.

Before Drinkwitz spoke, UM System President Mun Choi,Chancellor Alexander Cartwright and Sterk gave opening remarks on Drinkwitz’s hiring and on how they knew he was “[their] guy.”

In Drinkwitz’s opening statement, he called the job “an opportunity of a lifetime.” Among the people he thanked was Gary Pinkel, the school’s all-time wins leader who the Tigers nabbed from Toledo. In 2009, when Drinkwitz was coaching high school, he met Pinkel on a recruiting visit. Pinkel showed him “what it means to lead with integrity, what it means to lead the right way.”

“I look forward to connecting with you and helping continue to put this program where we know it needs to be, Drinkwitz said.”

He later addressed concerns about the Tiger offense, confirming that he would be taking over as offensive coordinator and play caller for the foreseeable future, a role he held this season as head coach at Appalachian State. Derek Dooley has been Missouri’s offensive coordinator for the past two years. No statement has been made yet on whether Dooley will be retained as part of Drinkwitz’s staff.

“Our program is gonna have a competitive fire to it and it's gonna be fun to watch,” Drinkwitz said. “Our style of play on offense is a pro tempo style. We're gonna base out of the no huddle.”

Drinkwitz said he hopes to finalize his coaching staff in the coming days, but right now his main concern is speaking with recruits. Multiple players have reopened their recruitment since Barry Odom’s firing. On Monday, Missouri wide receiver commit Jay Maclin told The Maneater that all of the commits were invited to Columbia this upcoming weekend to meet Drinkwitz. Maclin, Brady Cook, Javian Hester, Tyler Jones and Jaylon Carlies all announced on Twitter that they will be attending.

“I know that the guys that are currently committed to us, who are still committed, love Mizzou football,” Drinkwitz said. “And all they need to do is see that I love Mizzou football as much as they do. And if our passions can connect, then we'll be fine.”

Before agreeing to become Missouri’s head coach, Drinkwitz was the coach at Appalachian State for the 2019 season. Prior to that, he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Carolina State, held similar roles at Boise State and Arkansas State and also coached on Auburn’s 2010 National Championship team.

On Dec. 7, Drinkwitz coached Appalachian State to its fourth consecutive Sun Belt Conference Championship at noon and then watched his daughter perform in the Nutcracker at 7 p.m. Sometime in between, Missouri called and said that it wanted to meet with him at the Hampton Inn in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

“For me it was actually the first conversation even over the phone, before I even met him in person,” Sterk said. “I really was impressed with already his knowledge of Missouri. Later, he told me that when this job opened, this was the one he wanted.”

When the job opened, Drinkwitz had it on his radar but didn’t focus on it until after the championship game. The next day, Chris Low of ESPN reported that an agreement had been reached.

As far as what Missouri fans should expect, Drinkwitz doesn’t like to project and just wants his team to get better every day.

“I don't live in realistic expectations,” Drinkwitz said. “I shoot for the moon.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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