SEC Coach Rankings: Day 9

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comJune 13, 2014 

Tennessee Missouri Football

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel yells on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

L.G. PATTERSON — AP

Editor's note: Bryant. Vaught. Jordan. Dooley. Neyland. These are just a handful of the coaches (among many others) who have come to define the Southeastern Conference due to their dynamic personalities and remarkable success on the field. But who are the top coaches roaming the sidelines of SEC schools today? Ryan Black gives his take, counting down from 14-1. Today, the series moves on to No. 6.

6. Gary Pinkel, Missouri

Record: 175-100 overall (73-37 in 10 seasons at Toledo from 1991-2000; 102-63 in 13 seasons at Missouri from 2001-13; went 12-2 overall last year and 7-1 in SEC play)

National championships: 0

SEC championships: 0 (Lost to Auburn 59-42 in 2013 SEC championship game)

SEC division titles: 1 (2013 Eastern Division champion)

Missouri's 2013 season shows how one year can drastically alter the perception of a coach.

Entering last season, the Tigers were coming off their worst two-year stretch (13-12) since they went a combined 13-11 in 2003-04. Worse, they posted a 5-7 mark in 2012, their first season in the SEC. It was the first time since 2004 that Missouri missed out on the postseason, snapping a seven-year streak of bowl appearances.

The Tigers showed that 2012 was a thing of the past from the get go, romping past their first five opponents. When they went on the road to face then-No. 7 Georgia, even losing starting quarterback James Franklin to an injury didn't stop them. They beat the Bulldogs 41-26 and then topped Florida a week later to push their record to 7-0.

Yes, Missouri lost to South Carolina at home in double overtime 27-24, but that didn't prevent the Tigers from winning the East, as they finished the regular season with a pair of impressive wins: at Ole Miss (24-10) and at home versus Texas A&M (28-21). The Tigers then took on another squad of Tigers — a resurgent Auburn — in the highest-scoring SEC championship game of all-time. Auburn was a bit too much to handle, however, and Missouri fell 59-42.

(In hindsight, the loss hurt Missouri and its fan base even more, as a win in the SEC title tilt likely would have put it in the BCS championship game opposite Florida State.)

Given the massive personnel losses the Tigers have had since the end of last season — 12 starters have departed — one would think they'll take a slight step back this fall.

If last season proved anything, however, it's that Pinkel can never be counted out.

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