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Missouri Football: How Long Does Gary Pinkel Have to Succeed in the SEC?

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel has built enough goodwill in Columbia to survive a few years should the Tigers start slowly in the SEC.
Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel has built enough goodwill in Columbia to survive a few years should the Tigers start slowly in the SEC.Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Sanjay KirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystJuly 17, 2012

One of the biggest adjustments for Missouri in making the move from the Big 12 to the SEC is managing expectations. 

Simply put, the SEC is a cutthroat league where the race to make it to the top is never-ending, and those that fail will not last long. 

To his credit, Pinkel turned a program that had long been a football doormat and turned it into a consistent winner in the Big 12. 

Pinkel has been at the helm for 11 seasons in Columbia—including posting at least 10 wins in three of the last five seasons. 

However, with their move into the SEC’s Eastern Division, can the Tigers expect to maintain the same level of success that has seen the program appear in a bowl game for six consecutive seasons?

If Pinkel’s first few years in the SEC mirror the beginning of his tenure at Missouri—when he posted a 23-25 mark from 2001-04—will fans in the Show Me State have the same type of patience now that they are in the most dominant conference in college football?

Whether or not the Tigers can maintain their level of success seemed to be the source of most of the questions tossed Pinkel’s way during his press conference on Tuesday at SEC Media Days. 

Pinkel may not be the flashiest name in the coaching circuit, but he certainly did not back down when peppered with questions about his team’s ability to step in and compete in the SEC. 

Pinkel’s body of work at Mizzou should afford him a longer leash—especially when compared to fellow SEC newcomer Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M.

Considering that some pundits feel that Missouri is a sleeper contender in the SEC East—including B/R colleague Barrett Sallee—the Tigers may handle the transition to their new conference home better than the Aggies.

When you take into account that Pinkel has become one of the nation’s best developers of NFL talent, and the fact that he was able to land the nation’s top overall recruit in the class of 2012—home state wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham—it becomes clearer that Pinkel is the right man to lead the Tigers into the toughest conference in the country. 

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