COLUMBIA — The speculation was inevitable.
On Monday, Steve Sarkisian left Washington to accept the vacant head coaching position at USC. Sarkisian’s move opened up the head coaching job at Washington. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel spent 12 seasons in the early stages of his career as a tight ends coach, wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator at Washington under Don James, who was his mentor and college coach at Kent State.
Washington's coaching search fueled speculation that Pinkel may consider making the move to take his mentor's old job. James passed away this fall.
However, on Thursday, Pinkel ended any speculation in an interview with ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike."
"To be quite frank, I’m staying at the University of Missouri," Pinkel told 'Mike and Mike.' "I, with the administration’s help, will continue to build a national program in a quest for a national championship.”
Later on Thursday, Missouri Director of Athletics Mike Alden issued a statement in which he expressed gratitude for Pinkel's commitment to Missouri and spoke about what the future could hold for Pinkel and his staff.
"Gary and I have spoken about our continued efforts going forward," Alden said. "I’m looking forward to sitting down with Gary after the season and focus on ways to build on these successes and recognize the significant contributions Gary and his staff have made to our program."
Pinkel has guided Missouri to four 10-win seasons in the last seven years. He received a contract extension after the 2008 season that was set to run through the 2015 season. After the 2011 season, Pinkel's contract was extended again through 2017. Pinkel was also given additional money to spend on assistant coaches.
Pinkel, 61, is in his 13th season with Missouri. With one more win, Pinkel will pass Don Faurot as the winningest coach in Missouri history. His successful 2013 season created speculation he might take a bigger job, but Pinkel reiterated Thursday he doesn't have plans to coach for any other team.
"I’m a Missouri Tiger and I’m going to stay a Missouri Tiger," Pinkel told "Mike and Mike."