COLUMBIA — Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is getting with the times.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
The 61-year old Pinkel spent nearly 25 minutes conducting a Google Hangout with several fans on his personal website Wednesday, answering questions about a wide variety of topics ranging from the way he runs his program to the reason he always wears visors instead of hats.
You can watch a replay of the entire segment here. Even if you don’t watch it all, I encourage you to at least take a look to see the strangely riveting way Pinkel sits back in a cool, relaxed pose the whole time.
Anyway, I watched the entire thing and jotted down some highlights. Here were the highlights:
*Pinkel led off the session by saying he agreed to host the Google Hangout because he believes it benefits fans.
“I love their dedication and loyalty to us,” Pinkel said. “This gives me a chance to be closer to you. I thought this was a great idea when they asked me, so we’re doing it.”
*A fan named Adam Crutchfield asked who Pinkel looks to for leadership inspiration.
“I read a lot, I talk to a lot of different people, I’m always looking for different ways to make our organization better,” Pinkel said. “It really has become a family atmosphere here. Most of my players come on my radio show…and almost every single one of them talks about when he came to Mizzou, family atmosphere is the thing that made them feel comfortable. It's very genuine and that made me feel like a million bucks because we work on that. I always tell our coaches, 'Don’t expect our players to passionately care about Mizzou football if they don’t think we passionately care about them.'”
*A fan named Nathan Thomas asked why coaches are currently wearing t-shirts with the word “finish” on the back.
“We’ve been a pretty good finishing team the last six or seven years, except for last year when we won two or three close games at the end and lost a few games at the end," Pinkel said. "When you play in this league and you play so many great football teams, you’re going to have to finish.”
*A fan named Nick Bianchi correctly mentioned that the motto for fall camp last season was “respect,” and then asked how the team decides on its mottos.
“What I do is I meet the new seniors in January, and I have leadership meetings with those guys and we discuss things we can do better,” Pinkel said. “We kind of come to a conclusion together.
“Last year the respect factor was really big, it was something where we wanted to make sure people respected us. This year we’re going to focus on ourselves…just Mizzou, playing our best game, pretty much how we’ve always done it. You’ve got to finish in this league.”
*In response to a question from Mason Bartlett, who asked if the offseason was too short or too long after last season, Pinkel revealed where he vacationed this year but adding that he couldn’t wait to get back to work after going 5-7 in 2012.
“I try to get away a little bit,” Pinkel said. “I got out of town, get out of state. The Grand Canyon, saw the redwoods in California, things like that. But for me, going into this season, honestly, I couldn’t wait to get back and get going because when you come off a difficult year like we did last year, there’s one thing you want to do, and that’s get going again and start winning.”
*Lauren Karr asked why Pinkel enjoys being a college coach so much.
“It’s more the relationship with players, I know you can make a huge difference in their lives,” Pinkel said. “I had a player this past year that thought about maybe going to the NFL early and I brought him in to talk about it and he says ‘Coach, I don’t want to go early, I want to be the first person in my family to ever graduate from college. He’ll change a generation in his family forever now. You’ve got to win enough games to be able to do this, but I love working with young people. It’s a passion of mine.”
*Bianchi then asked Pinkel about how the staff goes about changing players’ positions.
“We have a simple rule – you play where you want to play,” Pinkel said. “I’m not going to make a player play where he doesn't want to play, but I encourage players to trust in our experience as professionals in dealing with personnel…our goal is to get our players to play at the position where he can be the greatest he can be.
“Now, if Ziggy Hood wanted to play quarterback, I wouldn’t let him play quarterback. Nothing that extreme…but I don’t want anybody sitting in a locker room playing a position they don’t want to be at.”
*Karr asked what he does to welcome new coaches – such as Pat Washington – to the staff.
“I’ve only lost four coaches here in 12 years I’ve been here, most BCS programs lose two a year,” Pinkel said. “So one thing we do in recruiting is tell (kids) that the guys that recruit you are probably going to be here, based on past history.”
Pinkel added he also takes pride in his ability to evaluate people.
“I’m not very good at a lot of very good things but I’m a pretty good judge of people,” Pinkel said. “That’s one thing that I’ve been blessed with. I know when I find the right person. The first thing I do is find out if a guy will be a good role model. Before he’s a good football coach, I want to find (that) out. And once I have that, I look into other areas.”
*One fan asked Pinkel why he chooses to wear visors instead of baseball caps. Turns out it’s for practical reasons.
“I’ve never been much of a hat guy,” Pinkel said. “Hats are just too hot for my head so I’ve always been a visor guy. I never wore (them) as an assistant coach, but being on the sidelines with the heavy headsets, the visor kind of balances it out for me because I cant wear hats. That’s why if we’re indoors or in a dome, I’ll still have a visor on. It’s so my headsets fits properly. For some reason people associate me with the visor, so that’s OK.”
*Toward the end of the session, Pinkel went on a tangent about the ongoing renovations at Memorial Stadium and how pleased he was with the progress. Pinkel said Missouri just completed a renovation to the westside press box, and the eastside renovation – which will include suites and more – should be completed by 2014.
“In the SEC, there’s a commitment you have to have by your administration, which we have, an ongoing process of making your place a better place,” Pinkel said. “Mizzou has a great stadium, but also we want to have the best facilities in the country. The renovation of the west press tower is done now. When you walk in that thing, it’s as nice as any place in the United States of America.
“On the East side, where you have cranes going on, it’s really going to be a remarkable sight when you drive down Stadium (Boulevard) and you actually take a look at that side. It will rock.”
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.