Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Notebook: Future Uncertain for Mizzou Coaches

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mizzou Notebook: Future Uncertain for Mizzou Coaches

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, Mo. * When Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel announced his retirement plans Friday, his assistant coaches instantly faced a jolt of reality. Their futures became uncertain. Pinkel had not told his staff or players about his cancer diagnosis until Friday.

Pinkel planned to announce his decision to retire Sunday, but rumors began to swirl Friday afternoon that he would soon announce his resignation. Multiple sources have said they suspect a high- ranking university official leaked Pinkel's plans, and once the athletics department began getting inquiries Friday afternoon, Pinkel decided to tell his coaches and players about his decision shortly before the team boarded a bus for Kansas City, where the Tigers would play Brigham Young on Saturday.

"It was a shock, to say the least," offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. "It's not something we as a program saw coming."

Pinkel's retirement means athletics director Mack Rhoades will soon be hiring a new head coach, which means Pinkel's assistants could soon be looking for jobs elsewhere. Four of his nine position coaches have been with him since his first season at Mizzou in 2001: quarterbacks coach Andy Hill, tailbacks coach Brian Jones, defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski and cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford.

"One of the most difficult things when you do what I did, you rock the world of all your coaches," Pinkel said. "There was no other way to do it. But I'm very sensitive to that. It's unfortunate."

"It's tough," second-year offensive line coach A.J. Ricker said. "But you get into this profession knowing this could happen."

Henson, on Pinkel's staff since 2009, said he and his fellow assistants will have to balance the next few weeks between securing their future and coaching the Tigers through the rest of the season. Missouri (5-5, 1-5 SEC) hosts Tennessee (6-4, 3-3) on Saturday, then closes the regular season at Arkansas on Nov. 27.

"I have a responsibility, number one, to my family to be employed somewhere next year," he said. …

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