Energized Pinkel says he can't wait to fix MU
Nov 27, 2012 (Menafn - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --COLUMBIA, Mo. -- In a dramatic departure from his stance of defiant denial after Mizzou's 59-29 loss at Texas A&M capped the school's first losing season since 2004, MU coach Gary Pinkel acknowledged his program's issues in an animated and resolute appearance Monday on "Tiger Talk."
"I could not wait to get to work this morning," Pinkel told host Mike Kelly at Buffalo Wild Wings, adding that he relishes the challenge. "That drives me. ... It's important to me that this program is very successful. I've put a lot into this ...
"I'm high-energy. Let's get back to work and get this thing going."
In what might be considered a dress rehearsal for his news conference called for today at 8:30 a.m., Pinkel abandoned the "what we do works" mantra that had grown tired with many stakeholders -- and perhaps MU administrators -- and clarified that all aspects of the program will be subject to scrutiny as he sets about trying to rejuvenate it.
"We've set some standards here, OK?" he said, armed with statistics such as the fact that MU is 14th in overall wins despite "this crummy year" among schools in conferences whose champions automatically qualify for BCS bowls. "So when we fall off that, you don't think that's upsetting to me?
"You don't think that just destroys me personally? It does."
He alluded to a time at Toledo when his Rockets were struggling and he was hoping his father would feel sorry for him.
"He'd look at me (and say), 'Go fix it,' " Pinkel said. "It used to drive me crazy."
But he came to understand, then and now, that fixing it is what the job entails.
Pinkel made no reference to rampant and reckless rumors of his dismissal that had circulated largely through the Twitter echo chamber, rumors that were shot down by numerous credible sources Sunday night and doused directly Monday by MU spokesman Chad Moller.
Moller said by email that Pinkel "absolutely" would return for 2013.
"We're all disappointed in how the season turned out (5-7 in MU's much-anticipated Southeastern Conference debut), but we're fully supportive of Coach and confident that he will bounce back," he added.
But Pinkel perhaps was indirectly addressing the rumor mill, or at least speaking to an understanding of the vexation of MU faithful, when he mentioned his appreciation of the heightened expectations of fans since 2001, when he took over a program that had been to two bowl games since 1983.
He recalled the frustration he felt when fans applauded MU's effort in a 35-16 loss against Texas in 2001.
"Which just drove me absolutely crazy," said Pinkel, whose first team went 4-7. "And now our fans have an expectation level of winning and an expectation level of going to bowl games. And they should. ... That's refreshing to me."
Some of those constituents believe solving MU's issues should begin with shaking up the staff. Pinkel last week said he would not make any changes.
He didn't say he would on Monday, either, but he elaborated on the matter rather than dismissing the question this time.
"If you hire the wrong person, what will destroy your company was not hiring the wrong person," he said. "That's not going to destroy your company. What's going to destroy your company is having that person stay in your organization ...
"I look at everybody in our program ... because if you can't fit in, and you can't deliver to our program, then I'll make a change.
"But what I'm not going to do is ... be the coach who's just going to change guys just to make it sound like I'm doing things (and) mixing things up."
He added that "every coach knows exactly where they stand" and summed up, "We have a good staff. They're good at what they do. And if they weren't I would ... make changes."
As for the previous tone he had struck that suggested all is essentially well, Pinkel said it was obvious MU had "some issues," that everything was on the table to solve the problems and reminded listeners that he sends staff members out to other schools every offseason to stay on trends and keep on the "cutting edge."
Along the way, Pinkel seemed to address a disconnect in how he's explained that before.
"We evaluate every single thing in our program. All the time. It's a constant evaluation to make ourselves better ..." he said. "But I tell you one thing: When we've had adversity here, what I do, what I embrace, is the foundation of our football program.
"I embrace the foundation of what we're about and making sure that everybody in our organization (is) doing all the little things necessary ..."
Meaning, basically, that the process itself doesn't change, as opposed to that nothing changes.
For instance, Pinkel spoke of potential changes in the offense in terms of schemes and philosophies.
"We'll have to look at that," he said, adding that it's prudent for any team to constantly think about "what they want to be and who they are."
Defensively, he said, MU will evaluate "adjustments necessary to make us better."
And he didn't limit the potential fixes to philosophical or staffing matters.
Asked specifically about whether competition at quarterback will be open after junior James Franklin was less effective in his injury-riddled season than a year ago, Pinkel said, "There's no question about it" and quickly added that competition will be open "all over the field."
Tiger tales -- MU football's head athletic trainer, Rex Sharp, also appeared on Tiger Talk and said that 2011 star back Henry Josey has "no restrictions" now in his comeback from a devastating knee injury. Sharp said that at many schools Josey might have played this year but that MU was being cautious with his future.
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