Missouri assistant football coaches are familiar faces in new roles

Friday, September 4, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 1:33 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 4, 2009
Dave Steckel is entering his first season as the Missouri football team's defensive coordinator, but has been working for Pinkel at Missouri since 2001. Before that he worked for Pinkel at Toledo.

COLUMBIA — David Yost had to stamp out his territory. Before he took the position as offensive coordinator for Missouri before this season, he had to share a hotel room with one of the team’s graduate assistants on the nights before games. As quarterbacks coach, he would use his seniority to get his preferences in the room.

“I always got the bed I picked, and I always got the one closest to the TV,” he said.

Now, Yost won’t have to declare his decision. Yost, the long-haired quarterbacks coach who developed Chase Daniel and Brad Smith, has taken on the role of offensive coordinator. The 39-year-old has been working in various capacities under head coach Gary Pinkel since 1996. He had only two years of college coaching experience, at Division II Tiffin, before he began working for Pinkel at Toledo.

Other than the privacy, he said not much is different as he works in his new position.

“It will be very similar, all the meetings we’re going to are kind of in line with how we’ve done them before,” he said. “It’ll be similar, just different not having coach (last season’s offensive coordinator Dave) Christensen there right beside me.”

Christensen, who had been at Missouri since 2001, left after last season to be head coach at Wyoming. Pinkel also will be working with a new defensive coordinator Saturday. Dave Steckel assumed that role after Matt Eberflus left to take a job with the Cleveland Browns. Steckel had been serving as the team’s linebackers coach, a position he still holds in addition to being defensive coordinator.

More reserved than Yost and with a shorter haircut, Steckel has a muscular build like the linebackers he coaches. He answers questions concisely, sometimes avoiding interviews with the media. He said he isn't worried about his current transition.

"I think it'll be fine," he said.

Steckel, 51, has been working for Pinkel at Missouri since 2001. He also worked for Pinkel at Toledo until 1996, when he left for a job at Rutgers. Steckel began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant at Miami of Ohio in 1983.

Because the coaches are not new to his staff, only to their jobs, Pinkel said it won’t be much of a change when he goes to his coordinators Saturday.

“We talk a lot, even during games,” Pinkel said. “I go to the defensive side and talk to all the defensive coaches. I go to the offensive side and talk to all the offensive coaches. I think we’ve done a pretty good job in preparation of that.”

Although Pinkel said he is familiar with his coordinators, he’s been using a rehearsal system to be safe. Practices have served as rehearsals so players and coaches can get used to the coaches being in new roles. In a few practices, he had Yost communicate with offensive players by headset as he will during games, trying to make sure everyone is accustomed to hearing him that way before they do in the game.

“I’m sure those guys are a little nervous,” Pinkel said. “I remember the first time I was coordinator at Washington. So that’s normal. But they’re very well-prepared and they’ve got good coaches around them.”

Pinkel said the tension is lessened by the team’s coaches’ meeting Thursday morning, when many of the game plan decisions are made.

“In calm and peace and statistical analysis,” Pinkel said. “We go through what’s called a Thursday checklist, most of the decisions that are made Saturday are made in that meeting.”

Yost and Steckel will take different approaches to their jobs. Steckel will work from the sideline. Yost will have a view from above in the coaches’ box.

“I haven’t been a coach nearly as long as some,” Yost said. “But since I started coaching, other than when I coached junior high football, when I was on the field, I think I’ve been on the sideline for three games. Ever. I really, I don’t like it. I can’t see what I’m used to seeing. It looks like electric football up top, I can kind of scan the field.”

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said he’s glad Steckel isn’t taking Yost’s approach.

“Ever since I’ve been here, he’s been on the sidelines,” Weatherspoon said. “I couldn’t imagine having him in the booth, that would have been kind of tough for me. I think his intensity is really the reason we want to keep him on the sideline. Because he’s that fiery guy, gets guys going. So hopefully he can fire us up a few times when we need it.”


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