Gary Pinkel reflects on big turnaround: ‘We built back that respect right away’

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Exiting 2012, Gary Pinkel sat on the SEC’s hottest seat after finishing 5-7 in Missouri’s inaugural SEC season. Texas A&M was ‘the brand’ the SEC cared about, and Mizzou almost seemed like the throw-in school that would make it an even number of teams.

RELATED: Recapping how Mizzou earned SEC respect in 2013 

Pinkel recently reflected on just how tough 2012 really was after having a total of 23 players suffering injuries, including three offensive linemen and the starting quarterback, and being without Henry Josey due to a 2011 injury. Pinkel said everyone around the country, especially in SEC country, said the SEC was too tough for them and just ran with that stereotype throughout the season and all offseason, via Fox Sports.

“Last year we went into a new league, and when we were struggling, the injuries, I don’t care how many we had, it didn’t matter,” Pinkel said. “It was, ‘The SEC overpowered them.’ That was just the take and everybody ran with it.

“Our offensive line was decimated. I’ve never been a part of anything like it,” Pinkel said. “And then our quarterback got hurt and he’s in and out. Combination of both and we had trouble getting a first down.

“It was probably the toughest season I’ve ever had coaching,” Pinkel said. “I don’t care how many injuries we have. I didn’t get it done. But for all the success we’ve had here, it was a very, very difficult year.”

“We were respected nationally, and now all of a sudden we’re not anymore. ‘The SEC overpowered us,’” Pinkel said, with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

Fast-forward to 2013, and Missouri just finished an electric turnaround, only overshadowed by Auburn’s bigger turnaround.

Pinkel and his club are surrounded by familiar people and are even playing a familiar team in former Big 12 rival Oklahoma State in this week’s Cotton Bowl, and Pinkel will be able to reflect back on 2013’s turnaround and know he had to endure a 5-7 2012 in order for players to embrace the chip on their shoulder and earn their respect.

Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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