The first time that I visited Mizzou was in 2003.

It was fall and I was visiting my oldest sister, a freshman Tiger at the time. Although I didn’t know this place would become my second home, I did know a thing or two about Mizzou football. It seems like forever ago, but Gary Pinkel was Mizzou’s football coach at the time.

Five years later, I was the freshman Tiger that had family in town. While pledging for Pi Kappa Alpha, my Dad came in town for our fraternity father’s weekend. Whether it’s because I wasn’t in high school anymore or because I blatantly intoxicated at the football game, I’ll always remember that weekend as the first time my Dad spoke to me like another man.

And, at that time, Gary Pinkel was Mizzou’s coach.

When I applied to Mizzou, Gary Pinkel was the head coach. When I graduated from Mizzou, Gary Pinkel was the head coach. And now, writing this blog as an alumni, Gary Pinkel is still the head coach of Mizzou football.

Some things never change, but soon those things will.

Since the very beginning of my love affair with the University of Missouri, Gary Pinkel has been their head football coach.

Most people don’t understand what it takes to push a semi-truck without wheels. Often, that’s the only metaphor for building a successful college football program. So, whatever potential criticism or nonsense you might have thrown at Pinkel this week, I hope you take it back.

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I hope that, despite every negative, you will look at all of the positives that Gary Pinkel brought to Mizzou.

I hope you’ll remember Mizzou’s win over Nebraska in 2003, as well as their homecoming upset over Oklahoma in 2010. I urge you not to forget about the 26 players he sent to the NFL (or the fact that seven players since 2009 have been drafted in the first round). And while you’re at it, just go ahead and take a moment of silence for Gary Pinkel.

Seriously, I’m not one of those dudes that will get all sappy and shit about sports. But if you went to the University of Missouri anytime in the last 15 years, you owe a lot more than you think you do to Gary Pinkel.

Former Tiger Shane Ray gave one of my favorite summaries about this legendary coach and his reputation:

“He’s backed us in all situations, win, lose, I mean it doesn’t matter. Once you go to the University of Missouri, you’re coach Pinkel’s guy and he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure that his players are taken care of and are treated with respect…

There’s so many things that we had to deal with in the past three or four years at Missouri, and coach Pinkel, his character — even with my situation before the draft, with other players, he’s a true coach that cares about his players.”

I’m not sure what Mizzou will be like without Gary Pinkel, because I’ve literally never known Mizzou without him. But in an age of college football where lies, extortion, and even pedophiles have corrupted programs – people like Gary Pinkel did the exact opposite.

For that reason, and that reason only, Gary Pinkel will always be head coach in my book.