Gary Robin Pinkel (born April 27, 1952) is a college football coach who currently is the head coach for the University of Missouri Tigers football team. From 1991 to 2000, he coached at the University of Toledo, winning a Mid-American Conference championship in 1995. He is the most winning coach in Toledo’s history. He is also the most winning coach in the history of Missouri, a position that he has held since the 2001 season.
Before becoming a head coach, Gary Pinkel served as an assistant at the University of Washington under Don James from 1979 through 1990, the last six of those years as an offensive coordinator.
Born in Akron, Ohio, Pinkel graduated from Kenmore High School and attended Kent State University, where he played tight end for the Golden Flashes under head coach Don James. Pinkel received his bachelor’s degree in education in 1973 and began his coaching career as a graduate at Kent State under James, who left after the 1974 season for Washington. Pinkel joined him in Seattle for a season in 1976, spent two years at Bowling Green, then returned to Washington for 12 seasons.
Pinkel and Alabama head coach Nick Saban were college teammates. Pinkel took over the head coaching job at Toledo in 1991 when Saban left to become defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.
His roommate at Kent State was former Pittsburgh Steelers great Jack Lambert. Pinkel did post-graduate studies at Kent State and Bowling Green State University, and was inducted into the Kent State Varsity “K” Hall of Fame in 1997.
Head coaching career
Pinkel posted a record of 73-37-3 (.659) in 10 seasons at Toledo, including a 53-23-3 (.690) record in conference. He compiled three West Division titles and the conference championship in 1995.
In 1995, Pinkel’s Rockets finished 11-0-1, won the Vegas Bowl and finished ranked in the Top 25 (AP Poll). They were one of only three teams in the nation to finish the regular season undefeated. The others were Nebraska and Florida, who played for the national championship.
In 2000, Toledo went to Penn State and defeated Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions 24-6. Pinkel guided Toledo to a 10-1 record that season, 6-1 in conference play.
Since arriving at Missouri after the 2000 season, Pinkel has guided the Tigers to ten bowl games in fifteen years, winning six. The first was in 2003, a 27–14 loss to Arkansas, and the second was a thrilling 38–31 come-from-behind win over the University of South Carolina on December 30, 2005. Missouri then lost to Oregon State, 39–38, in the Brut Sun Bowl. In 2007, a historic year for the Mizzou program, Pinkel led his team to a #1 AP ranking at the end of the regular season after finishing 11–1. They fell to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game, and played in the Cotton Bowl Classic against Arkansas. The Tigers throttled the Razorbacks, strolling to an easy 38–7 victory and a final season ranking of #4 in the AP Poll.
Pinkel’s other accomplishments while at Mizzou include ending the Tigers 24-year losing streak to Nebraska in 2003 with a 41–24 win in Columbia. Since this win, the two schools have had an intense rivalry, with Missouri falling short in the series only 3–4, until both schools left the conference.
In 2006, Pinkel led the Tigers to a 6–0 start, the team’s first 6–0 start since 1973. However, the team finished 8–5.
During the 2007 season, Pinkel guided the Tigers to a 12–2 season with an average of 40 points per game, a Big 12 North Championship, and a 38–7 Cotton Bowl Classic victory over Arkansas. The season’s most memorable moment came when Missouri defeated rival Kansas 36–28 on a nationally televised game at Arrowhead Stadium. The win propelled Missouri to the #1 ranking and ruined Kansas’ previously unbeaten record. The only losses during the season were against the Oklahoma Sooners. The first loss was on the road in Norman and the second was in the Big 12 Championship. Pinkel’s Tigers were tied with the Sooners at half time but ended up losing. If the Tigers had won they might have retained their then number one BCS ranking and could have played for the BCS National Championship.
In 2008, Pinkel guided his Tigers to a second consecutive Big 12 North title and a chance to have back to back double digit win seasons. Despite four tough losses, the 2008 campaign concluded with a Big 12 North Championship, the first back to back 10 win season in Missouri history and an Alamo Bowl Championship.
On November 25, 2008, Pinkel signed a new seven-year contract that would bring him $2.3 million per year, from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2015.
On October 23, 2010, Pinkel guided the Tigers to their first win over the Oklahoma Sooners since 1998, winning 36–27. The Sooners were ranked #1 in the BCS Poll at the time, leading to the third straight week that a #1 team lost. The Tigers finished the regular season 10-2 (6-2 Big 12) and tied Nebraska for the Big 12 North Championship, Mizzou’s 3rd in 4 years.
Pinkel entered the 2013 season as the third-winningest coach in Mizzou history, behind only Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine. He defeated Arkansas State on September 28 for his 94th win in Columbia, passing Devine for second place. He won his 100th game on November 23 over Ole Miss, and tied Faurot’s 101 wins after defeating Texas A&M 28-21 on November 30, 2013. With a Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State to cap the season, he is now Missouri’s all-time winningest coach.
In 14 seasons under Pinkel, the Tigers have a winning percentage of .631, have notched 10 winning seasons and appeared in 10 bowl games. Over the last eight seasons Mizzou has a winning percentage of .710 and ranks 12th nationally with 76 victories.
Beginning with the 2002 NFL draft, Pinkel has had 26 players selected, including seven first-round choices since 2009.
On November 13, 2015, Pinkel announced he will be retiring at the end of the season. He stated that he has non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and, wants to spend his remaining years with family and friends.
Honors and achievements
Pinkel is the record holder for all-time wins at both Toledo and Missouri. He is the only active coach in Division I FBS football to have the achievement of all-time winningest coaches at two different schools.
For his accomplishments at Toledo, Pinkel was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in February 2009.
Head coaching record
|Toledo Rockets (Mid-American Conference) (1991–2000)|
|1995||Toledo||11–0–1||7–0–1||1st||W Las Vegas||24||24|
|Missouri Tigers (Big 12 Conference) (2001–2011)|
|2003||Missouri||8–5||4–4||3rd (North)||L Independence|
|2005||Missouri||7–5||4–4||T–2nd (North)||W Independence|
|2006||Missouri||8–5||4–4||T–2nd (North)||L Sun|
|2007||Missouri||12–2||7–1||T–1st (North)||W Cotton||5||4|
|2008||Missouri||10–4||5–3||T–1st (North)||W Alamo||16||19|
|2009||Missouri||8–5||4–4||T–2nd (North)||L Texas|
|2010||Missouri||10–3||6–2||T–1st (North)||L Insight||18||18|
|Missouri Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (2012–present)|
|2013||Missouri||12–2||7–1||1st (Eastern)||W Cotton||5||5|
|2014||Missouri||11–3||7–1||1st (Eastern)||W Citrus||11||14|