After a disappointing start to the 2012-2013 season for Coach Gary Pinkel's Missouri Tigers, the question is whether or not his job is still safe?
Let's first take a look at what Coach Pinkel has brought to the University of Missouri's football program over the last 12 years. When Pinkel came to Mizzou the program was mediocre at best. Previous head coaches Larry Smith and Bob Stull were unable to attract recruits, win football games and rarely reached bowl games.
In 11 full seasons, Pinkel has led the Tigers to eight bowl games - seven consecutive - and has gone 4-4 in those games. In order to rebuild a program, Pinkel had to secure in-state prospects as well as battle it out with other powerhouses for top Texas recruits. Over the years, Pinkel has produced dozens of NFL players through his coaching system; the way he develops 3-4 star high school recruits into first rounders is remarkable. Just ask Aldon Smith (Rivals 3 star) or Jeremy Maclin (Rivals 4 star) in recent years. Pinkel is starting to haul in 5-star recruits too, like Dorial Green-Beckham. If he can continue to do this, his job will be safe for a while.
So who's to blame for this 3-4 (0-4 SEC) season? This team has underperformed, but it has also been extremely injured. It's obvious that for the past 11 seasons, Pinkel has done a good job in increasing program support from Mizzou and its fan base, has put together seven winning seasons in a row and has taken this program to a new level. However, with the transition to the SEC being so rough thus far, premature Pinkel hot seat rumors are sure to come. Let's remember Pinkel is the one who gave Tigers fans a reason to be upset with anything less than a bowl appearance.
I'm sure most Tigers fans are already willing to consider this first season a wash. Pinkel, his staff and his players have failed to adjust to the rugged, physical life of SEC football. The real test and factor in keeping Pinkel around until at least 2017 will be how the Tigers play the next few seasons. If Pinkel feels he needs to start recruiting different types of players, change his strategy/philosophy, develop his players differently, or all the above, he needs to start acting now. I don't think this is the case. I think Pinkel has a ton of confidence in his players and his coaching systems have proven to work in the past. But this is a whole new league, a whole new standard. Pinkel and his Tigers want to prove they belong in the best conference in football. Give the ball coach at least three more seasons of full support. He has certainly earned it.