It was a touching moment for coach Gary Pinkel when his Missouri players carried him off the field Saturday after his final home game.
After a couple of days to reflect, Pinkel wished he would have been in a better mood at the time.
“I felt real bad after the game being a grumpy man, with everybody being so nice to me,” Pinkel said, according to David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune. “All the players, fans. But I just hate to lose.”
Missouri is 5-6 and travels to Arkansas for the final game of the regular season Friday. If the Tigers win, they’ll clinch another game for Pinkel to coach.
Pinkel, though, said he doesn’t want his players using him as motivation against the Razorbacks.
“Honestly, I kind of wish I was out of it,” Pinkel said, according to Morrison. “I felt bad the other night, a couple players came over and picked me up and took me off the field. That was very nice of them to do it, but I’m grumpy (after losses).
“I’m very, very appreciative of that. Very appreciative of our fans and everything else. Our players and coaches right now, a transition’s going to be taking place, and they have no idea what’s going to happen. And this is normal. If you go to Virginia Tech, South Carolina, this is happening at all those places.”
Pinkel has elevated the Missouri program to a new level of national relevance. He’s won 10 games five times, along with five division titles. He won the SEC East twice, in Missouri’s second and third years in the league.
He is resigning at the end of the year to focus on his health after a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He didn’t sound like someone who wants to sit around or play golf, though.
“I wanted to go, like, 3-4 more years. That was my plan,” Pinkel said, according to Morrison. “Then after recruiting call in the coaches and say, ‘This next year I’m going to be leaving.’ All that changed. But I’m going to be OK. I’ll do something of significance. I’ll find something. I’m not really worried about it. I just think there’s a time here where I’ve got to get organized, get going on it.”
“I’ve got to do something constructive. I’ve got to do something significant.”