Pinkel staying calm despite Missouri football team's struggles

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 | 8:57 p.m. CDT; updated 9:03 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel stands on the sidelines during the second half of Missouri's game against Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Tigers lost 19-15.

COLUMBIA — Gary Pinkel can't sleep.

The Missouri football coach said Monday at the team's media day that the quality of the opponent doesn't affect his ability to sleep.

"I never sleep well during the season. Ever," Pinkel said. "I don't care who we're playing."

The lack of rest might explain why the coach is often irritable with members of the media.

Two days after Missouri lost to South Carolina, Pinkel was clearly annoyed by reporters who asked about different problems with the Tigers offense.

"The more I get here, the more I know how to solve the problems of our offense," Pinkel said sarcastically. "So I appreciate all your help."

Pinkel and Paul Finebaum, who hosts "The Paul Finebaum Show" on the radio from Birmingham, Ala., traded barbs in September after Finebaum said Tigers quarterback James Franklin "better man up."

Finebaum is used to dealing with irritated head coaches. He found Pinkel's reaction predictable.

"I thought his reaction was typical of a hardened coach who's opinion of the media is that they are not going to tell me what to do or say," Finebaum said.

Pinkel has been through a lot in the past year that might have hardened him, aside from the lack of sleep.

He is less than a year removed from his DWI arrest.

He and his wife, Vicki, separated at the beginning of this year after being married since 1973.

His top recruit, Dorial Green-Beckham, was arrested last week for marijuana possession.

Combine those issues with his team being 3-3, coming off a home loss to Vanderbilt and having to prepare for No. 1-ranked Alabama with a backup quarterback and an offensive line depleted by injuries.

Patience is not exactly expected from a football coach with a struggling team. And if there was ever a time for Pinkel to show his frustration, it would have been after Missouri squandered a chance at its first SEC win against Vanderbilt.

That was not the case.

In the postgame news conference, Pinkel didn't seem hardened at all. He came out from the locker room without a look of frustration even when he announced that Franklin would be out for a few weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee. He didn't raise his voice once.

Pinkel closed the tranquil news conference by taking the blame for the loss.

"I'm responsible for everything that happens here. And I've got to coach better."

His demeanor was surprising. Monday, Pinkel was friendly again, even joking with reporters at one point that he was "half-hippie" in college.

Something has Gary Pinkel in a better mood, even in the midst of an extremely disappointing season. At this rate, he may have to change his Twitter bio, which reads "7 Consecutive Bowl Games."

Things likely won't go well for the Tigers when they take on the Crimson Tide at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Alabama is a 21.5 point favorite according to four different booking sites.

Whatever happens, Pinkel won't lose sleep over it. He never had it anyway.

Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.


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