With the SEC season less than four months away, here’s a look at how the conference’s coaches rank in 2015.
Bio: Gary Pinkel broke into the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at Kent State in 1974, where he played tight end during the four seasons prior. He spent one season as Washington’s tight end coach before joining Bowling Green’s staff as a wide receiver coach in 1977.
Pinkel took the same position at Washington in 1979 and would hold the job for 11 years, while also taking over as offensive coordinator in 1984. The Ohio native accepted the head coaching position at Toledo in 1991 where he spent 10 seasons.
He led the Rockets to a MAC championship in 1995 — also nabbing MAC Coach of the Year honors — and three MAC East Division titles. Toledo finished 10-1 (6-1 MAC) during his final season with the program.
Pinkel took over at Missouri in 2001 and is tied with Georgia’s Mark Richt as the SEC’s longest tenured coach with his current team. The Tigers are the two-time reigning SEC East division champions and have boasted back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year winners in Michael Sam (2013) and Shane Ray (2014).
Pinkel also earned co-SEC Coach of the Year honors along with Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen in 2014.
|Kent State (GA)
Bowling Green (WR)
Reason For Ranking: Pinkel just finds ways to win. He doesn’t out-recruit his counterparts, rather finding the players right for his scheme. Missouri has ranked in the bottom-5 in recruiting among SEC teams in each year since joining the conference in 2012.
Yet the Tigers found themselves playing in back-to-back SEC Championship games in their second and third seasons since conference realignment. Missouri’s success is based on consistency.
Pinkel is a consistent winner, which earns him a top-5 ranking among SEC coaches entering 2015. Sure, the Tigers benefit from playing in a down SEC East division but managed to outlast a favored Georgia team.
Missouri has done more with less since joining the SEC. Pinkel belongs among the conference’s elite coaches, yet seems to fly under the radar.
|vs. SEMO||Columbia, Mo.||TBA|
|09/12/15||at Arkansas State||Jonesboro, Ark.||TBA|
|09/19/15||vs. Connecticut||Columbia, Mo.||TBA|
|09/26/15||at Kentucky *||Lexington, Ky.||TBA|
|10/03/15||vs. South Carolina *||Columbia, Mo.||TBA|
|10/10/15||vs. Florida *||Columbia, Mo.||TBA|
|10/17/15||at Georgia *||Athens, Ga.||TBA|
|10/24/15||at Vanderbilt *||Nashville, Tenn.||TBA|
|11/05/15||vs. Mississippi State *||Columbia, Mo.||TBA|
|11/14/15||vs. BYU||Kansas City, Mo. (Arrowhead Stadium)||TBA|
|11/21/15||vs. Tennessee *||Columbia, Mo.||TBA|
|11/28/15||at Arkansas *||Fayetteville, Ark.||TBA|
2015 Outlook: It’s tough to count out Missouri. Georgia once again enters as the favorite in the SEC East. Tennessee looks to be a team on the rise and could be a darkhorse contender.
But the smart money may be on the Tigers to pull off another historic run to Atlanta. Maty Mauk will need to be an elite playmaker in 2015. The quarterback struggled with consistency but provided enough for the Tigers to finish at 11-3 (7-2 SEC).
Missouri’s biggest obstacle will be replacing the conference’s top pass rush duo of Ray and Markus Golden. However, Pinkel has proven to have success in player turnover since joining the SEC.