MU Pinkel era begins against Bowling Green

Saturday, September 1, 2001

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- It's been nine months since Gary Pinkel, the latest in a line of coaches to take over the moribund Missouri football program, has started work on campus.

The whole time, he couldn't escape thoughts about tonight and his first game-time moments on the field with his new team.

"Yeah, about every second," Pinkel said. "This moment was going to come. Every day we focus on the things that need to get done that day, so there isn't a lot of time to sit around and daydream."

Pinkel hopes, actually insists, that preparation will guide the Tigers and his staff through their first game together against Bowling Green this weekend at Faurot Field. It's a mantra that Pinkel has chanted since arriving in town.

"The preparation is different just because it's different for our players," said Pinkel, who coached at Toledo in the Mid-American Conference for 10 years before replacing the fired Larry Smith in November. "And I can't stress this enough: preparation is absolutely everything.

"I don't care what you do for your business, if you prepare as hard as you can prepare, you'll do what you do with more confidence," Pinkel said. "A new starter will be very confident if he's prepared well and we've prepared him. I've seen a lot of players in their first starts play great games."

It's a first game, too, for Bowling Green coach Urban Meyer, who's in the same spot as Pinkel -- taking over a program without much of a recent winning tradition. The Falcons haven't had a winning season since 1994 and haven't opened the season with a non-conference road win since 1983.

Last year, the Falcons lost their three non-conference games by a combined score of 107-37.

Bowling Green might come into a Big 12 stadium and leave with an ugly loss to start this season, Meyer said, or repeat the team's 1995 effort, when the Falcons upset the Tigers 17-10.

After all, Toledo opened its season Thursday night with a 38-7 win against the Big Ten's Minnesota.

"You never know, that funny-shaped ball might bounce our way a couple times, and maybe we go into the fourth quarter and we're pushing each other around," Meyer said.

Pinkel, in his last game with Toledo, beat Bowling Green 51-17 to end the 2000 season. It's a kind of performance the Tigers are looking to deliver as something of a welcome present to their new coach.

Darius Outlaw will start at quarterback for Missouri, given that Kirk Farmer remains out while recovering from a broken finger on his throwing hand. The game is also partly an audition for Outlaw, who Pinkel said could hang onto the starting job even when Farmer is ready to return.

Outlaw has plenty of experience stepping in for Farmer; he started the last seven games of the 2000 season after Farmer broke his collarbone at Nebraska. The year ended up 3-8 for Missouri, which led to Smith's dismissal and brought Pinkel to Columbia.

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