“That whole day,” he added, “every 20 minutes I had tears coming down.”
“It wasn’t because I didn’t believe in me or myself,” Pinkel said Tuesday at Shakespeare’s Pizza on the south side of Columbia, where he visited with friends, family and media. “First of all, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I don’t wake up every day going, ‘Oh gosh, I want to be in the Hall of Fame.’ I just didn’t really think I was going to get in. Then all of a sudden the box was there.”
Pinkel is especially touched that he’ll join the same Hall of Fame that in 1997 inducted his mentor, Don James, the man who coached him at Kent State and later hired him at University of Washington. James, the architect of the program Pinkel later built in Columbia, died in 2013, just as Pinkel was leading Mizzou to its first of two straight Southeastern Conference East Division titles.
Someday, too, Pinkel’s Kent State teammate will join them in the Hall.
Heading into the Hall’s most recent round of voting, Pinkel’s 191 head-coaching victories — 73 at Toledo from 1991-2000 and 118 at Mizzou from 2001-15 — are more than any FBS coach not already inducted into the Hall of Fame, except Alabama’s Saban. The 70-year-old and seven-time national championship-winning coach won’t be eligible until he turns 75 or is three years out of coaching.
“A guy named Nick Saban,” Pinkel said, laughing. “They might let him in.”
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