New contract for Pinkel in the works

Friday, November 21, 2008 | 4:23 p.m. CST; updated 3:03 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 15, 2009

COLUMBIA — It appears Missouri will make a move to keep football coach Gary Pinkel in Columbia for years to come.

Team spokesman Chad Moller confirmed Friday morning that an extension agreement is being finalized between athletic department officials and eighth-year coach Gary Pinkel. The contract's length and amount has yet to be determined, although multiple news reports have pegged the guaranteed compensation figure to be approximately $2.5 million.

That figure would be an increase from the deal he signed last December that guaranteed $1.85 million per year over five seasons. An official announcement recognizing the raise could be made early next week.

"An agreement is in the works, but not finalized," Moller said. "We'll announce it when it's finalized."

Last Saturday, Pinkel led the Tigers to their second consecutive Big 12 North title by beating Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, for the first time since 2004. It marked the program's first consecutive conference titles of any kind since claiming Big Six championships in 1941 and 1942.

Before arriving at Missouri prior to the 2001 season, Pinkel won three Mid-American West division championships over his final four seasons at Toledo in 1997, 1998 and 2000. Pinkel holds a 58-39 record at Missouri, including a combined six consecutive victories over regional rivals Kansas State, Kansas and Nebraska since November 2006. Later this season, the Tigers will appear in their fifth bowl game over the past six seasons.

The new deal will quiet talk about Pinkel possibly taking over the vacant Washington job. Pinkel served as an assistant under legendary Washington coach Don James in 1976 and from 1979 to 1990. In October, Washington fired coach Tyrone Willingham, who has since remained on the sidelines but will end his tenure after the Huskies close their season Dec. 6 at California. Currently, the Huskies are 0-10.

Washington considered Pinkel for its vacancy after the 1998 season but instead selected current UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel. Washington fired Neuheisel after the 2002 season despite his 33-16 record and a 2001 Rose Bowl victory. Later in 2003, Pinkel led the Tigers to the Independence Bowl, the program's first postseason appearance since the 1998 Bowl.

In September, James discussed with the Columbia Missourian the possibility of Pinkel returning to Washington.

"I think he liked it out here," James said in that report. "He was on the list when they hired Rick Neuheisel. My vote was to hire Gary then. A lot has happened since then.

"I got to the same place out here. When I got the program going, why would I want to go anywhere else?

"It would be a monumental task here. ... There's a lot of negativity," James told the Missourian of taking over the Washington coaching job.

If the reported $2.5 million figure proves accurate, it would make Pinkel the third-highest paid coach in the Big 12 Conference. Only Texas' Mack Brown ($2.8 million) and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops ($2.65 million) receive more.

Entering this fall, Pinkel stood as the fourth-highest paid coach in the conference. In July, Kansas' Mark Mangino signed a deal worth $2.3 million annually.

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