Big 12 head of officials apologizes to Mizzou's Pinkel for blown call

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel watched his team during Saturday's 21-16 loss to Iowa State in Ames, Iowa. (CHARLIE NEIBERGALL ~ Associated Press)

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The timing couldn't have been worse.

One day after Missouri inked football coach Gary Pinkel to a three-year contract extension and boosted his annual salary by $255,000, the Tigers lost 21-16 to a last-place Iowa State team on a bizarre, game-ending holding call that is already rivaling the infamous "fifth down" against Colorado and the end-zone kick and catch versus Nebraska in long-suffering fans' hall of misery.

On Monday, with the pain from that loss still fresh, Missouri athletic director Mike Alden defended both Pinkel and the timing of the midseason contract renewal.

"This is something we've been working on [since the summer]," Alden said. "We felt as an institution that was something we wanted to move forward on."

The new five-year deal, effective Jan. 1, extends Pinkel's contract through 2011 and increases his guaranteed income to $1.3 million.

The raise elevates Pinkel's salary to 28th place among Division I football coaches, according to figures provided by the university. The pay hike boosts Pinkel's salary to slightly more than the average of $1.238 million paid to head coaches in the six major Bowl Championship Series' conferences.

Earlier Monday, the Big 12 Conference's coordinator of officials called Pinkel to acknowledge the officiating crew -- in Pinkel's words -- "made a mistake" when offensive lineman Monte Wyrick was whistled for holding on a fourth and goal from the one-yard line with just seconds remaining in Saturday's game.

The call nullified an apparent touchdown run by quarterback Chase Daniel that would have given Missouri (7-4, 3-4) a last-second victory.

"Conference official Walt Anderson said to me, 'We blew it,"' Pinkel recounted. "He said, 'If you call that, you have to call it 40 times a game."'

Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg confirmed Pinkel's account, acknowledging in a written statement that Anderson's videotape review of the disputed penalty deemed it "incorrect."

The moral victory is little consolation to Missouri, which has lost four of its past five games after a 6-0 start that had fans and players alike looking forward to one of the best seasons in the program's 116-year history.

Assistants receive raises

Pinkel's new contract, copies of which were released by the university Monday, also boosts the pool of money available for his nine assistants, director of football operations and strength and conditioning director by nearly $300,000.

The assistants - whose individual salaries aren't disclosed by the school - will now earn a total of $1.62 million annually.

Other changes to Pinkel's contract were relatively minor, with the maximum available incentives increasing by $60,000.

Should Pinkel win the Big 12's North Division, he will not only earn a $25,000 bonus -- a clause in his previous contract -- but also a similar increase in his guaranteed income in all subsequent years.

That bonus and accompanying next-year increase jumps to $50,000 should Missouri win the conference title outright.

Pinkel, 54, is in his sixth year at Missouri after spending a decade as head coach of Toledo. He has taken the Tigers to two bowl games in the past three years and is assured of a third bowl appearance this season, but his overall record at Missouri is 36-34, with a 19-28 conference record.

And should Missouri lose its final game against Kansas this coming Saturday, Pinkel would earn the dubious distinction as the only Tiger coach to lose four consecutive games to its archrival across the border.

As he did after Saturday's loss, when Alden told reporters in Ames that "Gary's our guy," the athletic director reiterated he's evaluating his coach on a long-term basis.

"You look at the body of work...and not necessarily [the results of] one football game."

Pinkel called the contract extension "huge."

"It makes a statement," he said Monday. "I'm committed to this place and they're committed."

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