Mizzou Head Football Coach Gary Pinkel has been a head coach for 23 years. His first head coaching job was at the University of Toledo in 1991. The Mizzou Tigers face the Toledo Rockets this Saturday, September 7 at 2:30 in The ZOU.
“When we first came to Missouri, they had years of struggle. And we came in here with success from the University of Toledo. We had quite a bit of success there, so almost my whole staff came here. And what we sold on building a program here, we sold the Don James football program – the basic foundation of that. I played for Don James at Kent State University. Won the first championship in the history of the school – I was a part of that right there. That program, Don James took to the University of Washington in Seattle and the Pac 10 at the time. And years later he ends up winning I think four Rose Bowls, a national championship, 15 bowl games, and is a man of tremendous integrity. So Gary Pinkel becomes the head football coach at Toledo, so I pick that program up that was at Kent State, that was at Washington, and we drop it into Toledo, Ohio. And we get in there and we have great success at Toledo. And then I become head coach at Missouri now, and we take that program that was successful at all those areas, and we drop it in. And we start doing attention to detail things daily, how you build a program, recruit, develop players, so on and so forth. And that was really, that’s the foundation of what we’re about and that’s how we built our success and our program here at Mizzou.
I don’t think honestly anyone really wants to play the place that I’ve been so close to. I’m in the Hall of Fame at Toledo, and I’m very proud of that, honored to be a part of that. When I took the Toledo job, I took the job and was going to be there forever. I didn’t take it to say, ‘Oh I’m going to the next job.’ In fact, one of my goals while I was there, and that’s why I didn’t look for too many opportunities there, was one of my goals there was I wanted all three of my kids to graduate from the same high school. That was one of my goals when I was 25 when I first had my first child. And I did that. All three of them graduated from the same high school – which is very unusual in my business. But we ended up at Toledo, and we had great success there, know so many great people, and had some great tradition. They’re doing a great job since I’ve left, and they did a good job before I got there, and certainly this is going to be a very difficult game. So I think anytime you play a game like that – it’s like when I was at Toledo, I’d go play at Kent State. At Toledo, I went and played at Washington one year when I was there. And so I think anytime you go where you have an emotional tie, it’s significant. I know how well they’re going to play; I know how they play against SEC or Big Ten or Pac 12 teams. They got great pride in who they are – and guess what? They have a really good football team.”