Pinkel's smile can't be too far away

In case you haven't forgot in the midst of the horde of basketball news, Missouri still has a bowl game in two weeks. Meanwhile, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has secured some of the state's most coveted recruits. There's only question left: When will Pinkel smile about it?

It was supposed to be Gary Pinkel's day. The day he could finally smile.

It was only eight days ago, when Missouri and Pinkel announced the Tigers would be heading to the Independence Bowl, Missouri's first bowl game in five years.

It was supposed to be the final vindication point for Pinkel, who endured two inept losing seasons. Yet Pinkel sat there composed with the same look he has been giving the media for three years now.

Perhaps he knew then what we know now about the Ricky Clemons' tapes and how his program would be overshadowed once again by trouble in the Hearnes Center offices. That would certainly explain the lack of emotion from Associate Athletic Director Ed Stewart, who introduced the announcement.

If you haven't forgot, though, Missouri is playing in a bowl game less than two weeks from now. And Pinkel's expression during the announcement showed there was still much to be done.

I can see Pinkel sitting there during the announcement, plotting just how he is going to stop Cedric Cobbs after Kansas State's Darren Sproles tore his defense apart. I can see him picturing the Texas tape again and again, imagining how hard stopping Arkansas will be.

While the Razorbacks have almost shown a cavalier attitude toward this game, with two of their best players planning on sitting it out, rest assured this won't happen with Pinkel. He won't smile until his work is done.

The real question is if Pinkel will ever consider his work done. Someone must have erased complacency from the Webster's at the Pinkel home, because he certainly doesn't seem to know what it means.

He could have easily basked in his accomplishment, and Mike Alden likely would have given him a mulligan year or two because of it. Instead, Pinkel set up the foundation for years to come by getting commitments from Quincy Butler, Arthur Miller and most important, Chase Patton.

The Patton commitment is so important because it gives this program promise for the years following the Brad Smith era. Remember what happened after Corby Jones left? Missouri spent years wallowing in the mediocrity of Jimmy Dougherty and Kirk Farmer. Patton's commitment ensures there is more good to come after Smith leaves.

Gary Pinkel has secured a bowl game, an eight-win season and now he has almost secured Missouri's borders for recruiting.

A smile can't be too far away.


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