Pinkel won’t be caught in the hype

Tigers’ coach says No. 23 ranking is something for the fans to ‘get a kick out of.’
Tuesday, September 16, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:44 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Gary Pinkel doesn’t care much for rankings, even when his team is in them.

It would be an understatement to say Pinkel played down his Missouri football team’s No. 23 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 released on Sunday.

“You know, it’s not very far from the penthouse to the outhouse, and I told our football team that,” Pinkel said. “Do you know how fast that goes away?”

He said the rankings are something for the fans to “get a kick out of,” but he doesn’t want his team to get caught up in the hype.

Missouri was most recently ranked at the end of the 1998 season, when it finished No. 21. No Tigers’ player was on that team, so Pinkel is rightfully concerned about the their reactions to the ranking.

“Especially for a team that doesn’t know how to handle it, and for a team that might not be mature enough to handle it,” Pinkel said. “I would suggest it would be my assumption that we won’t handle it well, and I’ll do everything this week based on that.”

Pinkel is often kept awake with concerns about his team’s mental state, and this week won’t be different. He said his concern about his team’s ability to handle the ranking is the latest reason he can’t sleep.

“I think about it all the time,” Pinkel said. “When I wake up at 3 in the morning, that’s what I think about. The mental side of this is every bit or more important than the physical side of it. It’s Psychology 101. I’ve gotta make sure these guys are thinking right, acting right and preparing right.”

A.M. BRAINSTORMING: Pinkel makes no secret that he is a bit of an insomniac. On Monday, he gave a glimpse into what he does when he can’t sleep.

“I turn the TV on, and put mute on so my wife doesn’t smack me,” Pinkel said. “I generally look at The Weather Channel to see what the weather’s gonna be like for practice. The only thing else I can do is I generally go to CNN or one of the news stations and try, with my eyes, to squint and look at what’s happening in the world for a brief moment. Then I hopefully go back to sleep. Sometimes I do sometimes I don’t, sometimes I write some things down that we have to do.”

Sitting in bed at 3 a.m. isn’t the only unorthodox time he thinks about how to make the Tigers better.

“I’ve made a lot of decisions on the program in the shower before I go to work at 5:30 in the morning,” Pinkel said. “I’m serious, and they’re things that we do. There haven’t been that many since I’ve been here, but hopefully I’ll make better decisions.”

MIXED REVIEWS: Senior kicker Michael Matheny has showed off a strong leg on kickoffs, but he missed his first field goal attempt of the season and missed an extra point Saturday against Eastern Illinois.

Matheny was frustrated that he missed the 33-yard field goal, but was pleased with his performance on kickoffs, booting several through the north end zone for touchbacks.

“I missed a field goal and an extra point, but I thought my kickoffs were a lot better,” Matheny said. “In the offseason I worked a lot on my leg strength. My field goals have gotten stronger in terms of height, and my kickoffs have definitely gotten a lot better.”

Matheny, who stayed at No. 1 on the depth chart ahead of redshirt freshman Alex Pettersen, also made a 24-yard field goal against Eastern Illinois.

INJURY REPORT: Tailback David Richard, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Michigan State, had successful shoulder surgery two weeks ago and has started rehabilitation, Pinkel said.

Defensive back Terrence Curry, who did not play against Eastern Illinois said he sat out as a precaution because of a sore right hamstring. Curry said he expects to play Saturday against Middle Tennessee State.

Pinkel, who generally doesn’t talk about injuries, said that policy is out of necessity. He said he would prefer that the NCAA adopt a policy similar to the NFL’s, which requires teams disclose injuries and a status such as questionable, probable or doubtful for each injured player.

“What happens is when other teams in your league are not releasing them, then you’re at a competitive disadvantage,” Pinkel said. “I’m not going to do anything to put my players at a disadvantage, but if it was up to me, it should be by rule and we’d just be honest.”

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