Tiger fans discuss Coach Gary Pinkel's legacy at MU
COLUMBIA - The day Missouri Tiger fans have been dreading is finally here - Coach Gary Pinkel's final home game at Faurot Field. KOMU 8 News visited tailgates around town to get reactions from fans on the legacy Coach Pinkel is leaving at MU after 15 seasons.
Many of the fans KOMU 8 News spoke with focused on Coach Pinkel's success after joining the Tigers.
Katie Bromley, who graduated from MU in 2007, said she has been coming to games her entire life. She said Coach Pinkel raised the bar for the football program.
"I think he has already set such a great example for the football program," Bromley said. "Coach Pinkel brought us to a level where we are champions."
Rick Bien, a season ticket holder and Kansas City resident, said Coach Pinkel's leadership extended well-beyond the grid iron.
"He left a legacy of great people, people skills,and his relationships with the players," Bien said. "I think the players' academic success is all something we can be proud of, and of course winning football."
Bien said his favorite memory of Coach Pinkel while at MU was when the Tigers took down Nebraska and their appearance in the Cotton Bowl in 2008.
Kirk Bowman, a Springfield resident, said he he attended MU in the 1980s and is amazed with how the football program has developed since Coach Pinkel's arrival in 2001.
"This campus has two statues on it: Thomas Jefferson and Don Faurot," Bowman said. "Jon Anderson on ESPN said he falls somewhere between those two, that says a lot about the kind of legacy he is leaving."
Bowman said his most vivid memory of Coach Pinkel was MU's transition into the SEC.
"I wasn't real happy about that," Bowman said. "But, during the second year, I got to go to the championship game in Atlanta and that was a special time."
Kirk Banasik, a Springfield resident, said Coach Pinkel elevated the football program to new heights.
"He elevated the whole game and focused on doing the right thing," Banasik said. "His accomplishments off the field and how he's handled player development is incredible."
Banasik said his most fond moment of Coach Pinkel was his professionalism and ability to keep unity during the team's transition into the SEC.
"For the team to keep their composure and focus and really come back and show that Mizzou is real was my favorite time," Banasik said.
Pinkel announced last week that he would be stepping down as head coach at the end of the season after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in May.