Missouri’s Gary Pinkel has walked a long path in becoming the most winning coach in school history, and on Monday, he took time to reflect on that journey in what will be his last appearance on the school’s Tiger Talk radio show.
What’s more, the often-gruff Pinkel did so with startling candidness, noting the doubts he felt during his early days in Columbia, Mo. — the Tigers finished under .500 in three of his first four seasons — and remembering how the electricity of former quarterback Brad Smith helped his team work through them.
“I asked myself many, many, many times why I came here. And I didn’t always have a good answer for myself,” Pinkel said, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune’s David Morrison.
“The Good Lord gave us a catalyst named Brad Smith…” Pinkel also said, per Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
But perhaps no part of Pinkel’s final segment stood out more than his parting message, which came across as both heartfelt and hopeful for the future of Missouri’s program. Via Matter, you can read the full quote below:
“I’ll always be a Missouri Tiger. I’ll help in any way, do my little part to build the program. We’ll hire the right guy for the right reasons. To all the Missouri fans out there, love you. Just keep committed, man. Keep fighting. We can become greater and greater and greater, but the masses of Mizzou people are the ones that are going to get that done. Other than that, I’ve got nothing else to say. Thank you.”
Pinkel finishes with 118 career wins at Missouri, including six bowl victories, and five division titles during his 15 seasons as head coach. Whoever replaces him at the helm of Tigers football will have a tall task in following such a legacy.