Pinkel the father figure of Missouri Football

Being a father is a tedious responsibility. Caring, nurturing and being a quality role model isn't always an easy task. For Missouri's veteran head football coach Gary Pinkel, it appears it has become second nature judging by the way he treats his current players, his future players and his coaching staff. Go inside to see why in this special feature commentary

Being a father is a tedious responsibility. Caring, nurturing and being a quality role model isn't always an easy task.

For Missouri's veteran head football coach Gary Pinkel, it appears it has become second nature judging by the way he treats his current players, his future players and his coaching staff.

A man I have never met personally has left an outstanding first impression.

I have spoken to numerous high school and junior college prospects over the last few weeks and one common thing has been expressed by every commitment I have interviewed. They all speak of the family atmosphere Gary Pinkel has created and how he treats his current players.

"He is a great coach obviously," Missouri commitment Brayden Burnett said. "More than that he is a father figure for all of his players. It's great to know I will have someone like him watching out for me both on and off the field."

After hearing this from more than just a few of the prospects and pledges I interviewed, I began to wonder what made Pinkel so different than most college coaches around the country. Then the answers hit me from several different directions.

First it was the Alamo Bowl, the fourth straight bowl appearance under Pinkel and his coaching staff. He led his team to victory, but it was what he did on the way to the locker room that left a lasting impression.

As three-year starter Chase Daniel left the field, a Missouri fan had the audacity to boo one of the most successful quarterbacks in the Tiger's recent history.

When asked about it, Pinkel voiced his disappointment in the fan, stated that he has Daniel's back and that he was proud of what the young man had accomplished during his career in Columbia.

It was a father coming to the aid of his son. It was a successful coach showing his appreciation to a young man that had done so much for the Missouri football program and his family.

Another thing that showed me how much Pinkel truly cares about his players happened at the press conference a couple of weeks ago when superstar Jeremy Maclin declared for the NFL Draft.

I had heard about how Pinkel came to Maclin's side, to show support when the standout receiver got emotional, but I went back to the Missouri Athletic Department website and watched the free replay of the press conference for myself.

It was very impressive the things that Maclin said about his coach and his teammates, but more importantly it was how Pinkel reacted and answered when questioned about Maclin's decision

"Coach Pinkel has not only taught me how to be a great football player but how to be a man on and off the field," Maclin said. "This coaching staff taught me how to do the little things right, to go to class and pay attention to the small things."

Before Maclin made his final decision, he turned to Pinkel for advice on what he should do.

"The people that care about you the most wants what's really best for you," Maclin said. "I'm leaving a family behind, it's not easy to do."

Sitting in the background as a proud coach and father would, it was obvious that Pinkel was very unselfish and very caring about his players.

When Maclin got emotional and broke down describing how much his team and coaches meant to him, Pinkel immediately came to his side and took the podium to describe how much the young man had meant to him and the football program at Missouri.

Pinkel explained his approach when Maclin came to his head coach, his mentor and his father figure for advice in the matter.

"My big thing was what would I advise my son to do in the same situation," Pinkel said. "It's the right thing for him, which is the right thing for this football program and family."

How easy would it have been for Pinkel to try to convince the all-star wide receiver to come back for another season?

For some coaches it wouldn't have taken a second thought to attempt to keep him on the Columbia campus, for Pinkel it was the right thing to do to let him go.

Just like when it's time to leave home, a father doesn't always like to see the departure, but he wants what best for his son.

It's easy to see what Pinkel's players and future players see in him. What they see is one of the main reasons his coaching staff has stayed virtually intact for the past eight years and why when it was time for an assistant coach to become a head coach, Pinkel wished him the best.

Not everyone is ready to be a father and head coach, Gary Pinkel has proved over the years that he is.