For Pete's Sake

Sadness, shock from former Mizzou players, fans about Gary Pinkel’s planned resignation

The reaction to the news that Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel is resigning was mostly shock and sadness.

Missouri announced that Pinkel’s decision was health related, and that he was diagnosed this past May with lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer of the blood.

Former MU athletic director Mike Alden, who hired Pinkel: “What he’s been able to do to put us on the national map, to have us in the national discussion as an institution and not just a football program, that in itself will carry forward for a long time. He’s been able to build something that’s grounded in a solid foundation. Your hope is you can continue to build on that, but we certainly will miss him as a leader in that capacity.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon: “Coach Pinkel’s decision to step down due to his diagnosis of lymphoma is sad news for the Tigers and the entire Mizzou family. My friend Gary Pinkel is an outstanding coach and educator. Through his leadership and commitment, Gary has made a positive and lasting impact on the lives of thousands of students and the university as a whole. Gary inspires respect and admiration for all the right reasons – not only for being the winningest coach in Mizzou history, but also for his dedication to the wellbeing of his players, both on and off the field. The First Lady and I wish Gary and his wife Missy all the best in the future.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey: “Gary Pinkel has been a credit to the game of football and the kind of person we hold high as an example of how college athletics can make a difference in young people’s lives. He is a leader who coaches character with the same intensity he coaches football. Gary was an instrumental figure in transitioning Missouri into the Southeastern Conference and I thank him for his work, his dedication to student-athletes and his service to the SEC.”

Bobby Bell Jr., son of Chiefs Hall of Famer and former Mizzou player: “It hurts, because he's the leader of the biggest program Mizzou has. ... It used to be Norm Stewart. The expectations for the program were always there, but you had to find a coach that can elevate the program to that level again. Unfortunately, after I left, the University football team kind of crumbled a little bit for a while. That was hard to swallow for a while, because nobody wants to come back and watch somebody get beat down. They were at the top (under Pinkel), and I think they'll be back. I hope they will be. ... We had a big gap in there for a while. The program ought to be able to sustain itself with the people that he had underneath him. He built the kingdom, but he's got some pretty good guys underneath them.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff