Doc Five: Coaches who could probably use a big season – No. 4, Gary Pinkel

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



One season shouldn't change the perception of Gary Pinkel at Missouri.

Pinkel went to seven straight bowl games before last season, winning at least 10 games during three of those seasons. A 5-7 season doesn't change that Pinkel has been tremendous for Missouri.

Two bad seasons in a row might start to raise some serious concern, however.

That's because last season's losing campaign just happened to be Missouri's first in the SEC. Fair or not, Pinkel will be judged at least in some part on what he did when the Tigers did in the Big 12, and then what the Tigers do in the SEC. Being in the SEC is a different world.

Last year was difficult. There were injuries, most notably to quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey. There was also Franklin's surprising decline in games he did play, so much so that he's battling for his job this offseason. Overall, however, Missouri just didn't look like it was ready for the huge jump in competition.

The Tigers weren't competitive in many of their SEC losses. Four conference losses were by at least 21 points. Then came signing day. Missouri's class, with no five-star players and just one four-star player, was ranked 14th among 14 SEC teams and 48th nationally by Rivals. Every other SEC team finished more than 20 spots higher in the national rankings. Pinkel has done well developing recruits that weren't hyped out of high school, but great recruiting is a trademark of the SEC and Missouri's middle-of-the-road class is still a reason to be nervous. Again, the pre-SEC era for Missouri is totally different than the current SEC era.

There has been some speculation that Pinkel is on the hot seat, and perhaps that's true. It's hard to say what Missouri's athletic department is thinking. If Missouri gives up on a coach who has been very successful after two mediocre seasons, when the program had very little success in the 15 or so years before he got there, it would probably be an overreaction.

But it's safe to say this is an important year for Pinkel. He understands that expectations are higher at Missouri than when he got there, ironically in part because of the success he brought to the program, and also because of the move to college football's premier conference. And he wants to meet those expectations.

“It’s good, it’s what it should be,” Pinkel said after the season, according to the Maneater. “As you all know, we had people that used to cheer here when we played somebody close which drove me crazy. Our fans have a high expectation level for Mizzou football and that’s what they should have.

“I had a responsibility here, when this program was handed to me, to build a respected national program and we’ve done pretty good until this year. It’s my job to get it back.”

There's a lot of pressure on the Tigers this season to show they can compete in the SEC, and also a lot of pressure on Pinkel to do the same.

Previously on the "Doc Five"
5. Steve Spurrier

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