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With Some Fans Itching For Change, Pinkel’s Coaching DNA Might Hurt Him At Mizzou

Gary PinkelMissouri’s Gary Pinkel has never been a warm, fuzzy kind of guy.  At least not when it comes to his dealings with the media.  And certainly not in regards to position-battles.

This spring, Maty Mauk and Corbin Berkstresser are working to steal the quarterback job away from incumbent starter James Franklin.  Asked about the the signal-callers’ performances in Mizzou’s first scrimmage, Pinkel refused to go into detail.  “All three of them did a lot of good things, and it’s very competitive and it’s also very, very positive, so I’m excited about it.”

Yeah, but who looked best?

 

“I don’t discuss evaluation in the spring in what we do.  We’ll just see where it goes and keep competing…

I just think that’s our business right now; it’s nobody else’s business.  And I don’t think I have to be concerned about what anybody else things, either.  I’ve handled it like that ever since I’ve ever done this…

That’s why we don’t release depth (charts) or anything at (this) particular time.  I don’t know how it’s going to end up, and that’s ok… I’m in no rush to make a decision, and generally it takes care of itself.”

 

There’s nothing wrong with what Pinkel said.  And there’s nothing wrong with his decision not to discuss who’s leading in man versus man competitions for starting roles.

But when your fanbase is starting to tire of you — it usually happens around Year 10; Pinkel is entering his 13th season — it’s probably best not to appear too snippy, too defensive, or too standoffish.

Nick Saban isn’t going to be opening a charm school anytime soon, but when you’ve won four BCS championships in a decade, you can afford to be a little prickly now and again.  Pinkel put Missouri football on the map but time, a move to the SEC, and an injury-plagued disappointment of a season last year are conspiring against the coach now.

Pinkel, like Saban, studied at the foot of former Kent State and Washington coach Don James.  A 1981 UPI story on James might shed some light onto his disciples’ similar styles:  “One reason it’s taken some time for James to become known nationally has to do with personality.  Unlike some of the larger-than-life characters who run the football factories at other campuses, James tends to be low-profile and understated.”

Pinkel certainly tries to be low-profile.  Again, no harm, no foul.  But with a section of the Tiger fanbase already talking about a potential coaching change, it might be time for the coach to do himself a favor and lighten up just a bit.  Saying it’s “nobody else’s business” sounds one way when you’ve just won 10 games… another when you’ve just won five.  Pinkel won five last season.

Tutored by a man who played his own cards close to the vest, Pinkel feels his team’s business is his business and no one else’s.  It’s fine to feel that way.  But when the wolves are starting to howl and the ol’ seat is starting to warm, it’s probably best not to tell everyone you feel that way.

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