Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pinkel: Football a ‘crazy business’

Mizzou coach not fazed by latest wacky Saturday on gridiron


A week off gave Missouri coach Gary Pinkel a chance to pay closer attention to the rest of the Big 12.

He was struck, again, by the unpredictable nature of the game. Kansas State's upset over then fourth-ranked Texas was just the latest example.

"In college football, nothing surprises me. Nothing," Pinkel said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference. "You saw what happened all day - the number of blocked field goals across the country is staggering.

"All I know is, I'm in a crazy business."

Unstable, too. Pinkel, completing his sixth season with the Tigers, is the senior coach in the Big 12 North now that Iowa State coach Dan McCarney is out after a dozen seasons. Missouri plays at Iowa State on Saturday.

"We exchanged e-mails," Pinkel said. "It's a difficult part of the business. He's a great coach and a great person and everything you want in football."

Texas' Mack Brown, in his ninth season, will become the overall dean after Saturday. Two days after the Longhorns' loss dropped them from the national title picture, he had a wry reaction: "No. 1, I feel old today. I think that's part of the deal."

That's not the only reason Brown will miss McCarney, calling him a "great friend and a better coach."

"I've been most amazed by his energy and the way he's taken a tough situation at Iowa State when he got there to a team that competes just about every year for the North championship," Brown said. "I sure hope he stays in coaching because the kids will miss him."

Those and other sendoffs have been a sign of "mutual respect" for McCarney. Now he wants to go out a winner against a team angling for bowl position.

ISU has lost its last seven games against Division I-A opponents by an average of 20 points.

"I don't know about any trap, we're going to do everything we can to win our last game for the seniors," McCarney said. "I could not have had a better experience. These 12 years have been magnificent."

Missouri is one of eight bowl-eligible teams in the conference. The Tigers have lost three of four after a 6-0 start, and Pinkel said it was a good time for a break.

"I think the players are excited about the opportunity, and a lot of things are out there," Pinkel said. "Can we play our best?"

For Kansas State and Oklahoma, the answer was yes Saturday. Of course, the coaches of both those programs know they've got to do it again.

This week Kansas State gets Kansas, which needs a victory to become the ninth Big 12 bowl-eligible school.

Kansas State is back in the bowl picture for the first time since 2003 in Prince's first season as head coach. He believes the Wildcats' loss to Louisville in Week Four prepared them for the Texas upset.

"The result was not what we had hoped, but it came at the right time," Prince said. "Hey, they were the No. 8 team in the country, but we can play with these guys.

"It gave us a chance to see where we were."

Oklahoma (8-2, 4-1) has a shot at representing the South in the Big 12 championship game against Nebraska (8-3, 5-2) on Dec. 2 in Kansas City. The Sooners need to win their last two games, and Texas must lose at Texas A&M; (8-3, 4-3) on Nov. 24.


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