The Wall of Excellence, Class of 2011: Vote No. 6

We reach the final vote for this year's class. You will be given a list of nominees, and in the form below, you will rank your top three selections. Your No. 1 selection will receive five points, your No. 2 selection three points, and your No. 3 selection one point. Whoever gets the most points gets on The Wall.

In the first two years of The Wall, we inducted two very obvious choices from the "non-players" category -- Don Faurot and Dan Devine.  This year, the "Administrators/Coaches/Personalities" tier features perhaps the single most interesting vote we've had in either The Wall or The Rafters.  I honestly have no idea who might win this one.  Will voters think Gary Pinkel is already wall-worthy ... or should we wait to see how the rest of his career plays out?  Will voters respect the work of an athletic director like Mike Alden or Chester Brewer?   The world's greatest Sports Information Director?  A lifelong Mizzou Man like Clay Cooper or John Kadlec?  The man whose success got Memorial Stadium built?

Five of seven candidates are members of Mizzou's Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame; the other two are not simply because they are still active in prevalent (to say the least) roles in the program.

Once again, all photos below are from the MU Archives' incredibly valuable Savitar archive unless otherwise noted.

Mike Alden

The engineer behind the resurgence of Missouri's athletic department from top to bottom, Alden not only hired Gary Pinkel in 2001, but he refused to cater to "Fire Pinkel" pressure in the middle part of the decade and has assured that both Mizzou's facilities and finances are among the best in the country.  Though not always treated as such, Alden has proven himself one of the best athletic directors in the country in his decade-plus in Columbia.

MUtigers.com bio: Alden's legacy will transcend his program's consistent success in the classroom, socially and in competition. Upon his appointment as Director of Athletics in 1998, Missouri faced an uncertain future as it entered the Big 12 Conference era. Competing with an annual budget of just $13.7 million at the time of his arrival, Alden has grown Missouri's operating fortunes to a record $65 million and has added state-of-the art facilities and amenities at nearly every venue in the Sports Park at Mizzou. Overall, Alden has helped lead a record $165.2 million facility resurgence for MU athletics since his arrival just 12 years ago.

Highly regarded by his peers, Alden's success at Missouri has earned him national notoriety amongst the NCAA hierarchy. He has helped to drive policy that has not only shaped the current landscape of intercollegiate athletics, but has paved the way for the future growth of college sports as a whole.

A few of Alden's NCAA leadership committees include:

  • NCAA Leadership Council (Chair)
  • Division I Athletic Directors Association Board of Directors (Immediate Past President)
  • National Association of College Directors of Athletics (Vice President)
  • NCAA Management Council
  • NCAA Championship/Competition Cabinet
  • NCAA Oversight and Monitoring Group

Chester Brewer

Long before Alden turned the athletic department around, Chester Brewer built it.  He served in almost every possible role in the department at one point or another -- athletic director for 18 years, football coach, baseball coach, basketball coach.  He's even credited for inventing Homecoming.  I'd call that a Wall-worthy tenure.

Mizzou Hall of Fame Bio: One of the driving forces in the early days of Tiger athletics, Chet Brewer spent two terms working at Missouri in a variety of positions. He was athletic director from 1911-17, and again from 1924-34. At different times, he also coached MU's football, basketball, baseball and track teams. In football, he coached the 1913 team to a share of the Missouri Valley Conference Championship with a 7-1 record. His 61-32-3 baseball record ranks only behind current coach Gene McArtor and legendary John "Hi" Simmons. As athletic director, he supervised the construction of the Rollins Field bleachers in 1911, Memorial Stadium in 1926 and Brewer Field house in 1930, and during his tenure, MU teams won 16 conference championships. It was his vision, too, that began the nationwide tradition of "Homecoming." After stepping down as athletic director, he taught in the physical education department.

Bill Callahan

No, not that Bill Callahan.

Mizzou's Bill Callahan was one of the most well-known, well-respected sports information directors in the country, serving in the position for four full decades.  From the 1977 Savitar:

If Callahan's adventures were incorporated in a biography, they might rival Tolstoy's War and Peace in length.  But his autobiography would probably approach the dimensions of a comic book.

"Callahan wrote the book on sports information work as far as I'm concerned," Don Bryant, Nebraska's SID, claimed. …

Hair tends to grey quickly when you're mentally active in athletics, but Callahan never displays his loyalties during gamete. "You live and die with your team," Bryant said. "But Bill's great when they win and great when they lose."

"After Nebraska beat Missouri 62-0 in 1972, his heart was probably breaking, but he took it like a pro and said he was sorry they didn't give us a better game.

"He's all for integrity."

Mizzou Hall of Fame Bio: A native of Rhode Island, and a MU graduate, Callahan served as sports information director at Mizzou from 1947 to 1986, establishing a national reputation for integrity. Only four men in the history of college athletics had longer tenures in the field of sports information than Callahan, and he established a national record by working 377 consecutive football games. Until 1976, when he hired his first assistant, he ran a one-man shop supplemented by student workers, many of whom developed careers in athletic administration and sports journalism largely as a result of his tutelage. Callahan was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame in 1972, and received CoSIDA'a highest honor - the Arch Ward Award - in 1975. He co-authored Bob Broeg's book, "Ol' Mizzou: A History of Missouri Football" and edited MU's first "slick" media guide in 1950. Still lives in Columbia.

Clay Cooper

A three-sport star who coached for 38 years on Mizzou's staff in one capacity or another, serving under three hall-of-fame coaches?  Wall-worthy.

From an obituary republished on MUtigers.com:

working with a (Ken) Downing, a (Roger) Wehrli, a (Johnny) Roland an (Andy) Russell and a (John) Moseley and others who didn't make All-America, such as Butch Davis and Kevin Boston, to name a couple," Cooper said in an interview with St. Louis-Dispatch Sports Editor Bob Broeg in 1976.

Cooper reminisced with Broeg about his recruiting call to then unknown Wehrli.

"And how about Wehrli, a pale-faced kid he'd rescued from taking a small-college (Northwest Missouri State) basketball scholarship, to become a major-college All-America and an All-Pro?

Cooper, smiling recalled how he had squinted at 8-millimeter film, then watched Wehrli at a whistle-stop track meet when Missouri had only one football scholarship left. He was impressed, too, that Roger the Dodger had been All-State in Basketball. "But his father didn't think he could play big-time football. I wasn't sure, either, but I liked the kid's moves and I sold Rog's father when I said: "`Mr. Wehrli, just remember this, if Rog doesn't try, he'll always wonder whether he could have played for Missouri against the very best.'"

Mizzou Hall of Fame Bio: A local Columbia product, Cooper was a three-sport star at Mizzou, lettering in football, basketball and track from 1938-40. He has the distinction of having played on two Big Six Conference championship teams in the same year - the 1939 football team and the 1939-40 basketball team. He was also a member of MU's 1938-39 conference championship basketball squad. Following a term as a high school coach in Joplin, and OPT boat duty during World War II, Cooper joined Don Faurot's MU football coaching staffing 1947, and spent 38 years on the Tigers' staff, coaching under Faurot, Frank Broyles, Dan Devine and Al Onofrio. Much of his time was spent coaching defensive backs, where his protégés included all-Americans John Roland, Roger Wehrli and John Moseley, and standouts Andy Russell, Gus Otto, Ken Boston, and Ken Downing. He became MU's football recruiting coordinator in 1976, and retired in 1985.

Gwinn Henry

Under Gwinn Henry, Missouri Football got its first taste of the spotlight.  Under his watch, Mizzou won three conference titles in four years, attended their first post-season game -- the 1924 Los Angeles Christmas Festival -- and succeeded at a level that prompted the building of Memorial Stadium.  It was with the structure Henry provided that Faurot was able to so quickly build a solid program a decade later.

Mizzou Hall of Fame Bio: Catapulted the Tigers into the big time during a nine-year career between 1923 and 1931, when Missouri posted a record of 40-28-9, and won three Missouri Valley Conference championships. From 1924 to '27, Henry coached the Tigers to a 25-6-3 mark, and MU's league titles won in '24 and '25 prompted the University to build Memorial Stadium - still the football home of the Tigers. Henry later coached five years at the University of New Mexico, where he won a Border Conference title in 1936, and four years at the University of Kansas. He also coached an independent professional team - the St. Louis Gunners - for one season. As an athlete, Henry was the national AAU champion in the 100 and 220-yard dashes in 1909 and 1910. He was inducted into the State of Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1969.

John Kadlec

Sixty years ago, John Kadlec was a baby-faced, all-conference lineman from St. Louis.  Now, he is "Mr. Mizzou," having served his university ever since.  He was an assistant coach, a fundraiser, and for the last decade and a half, one of the more lovable color commentators around.  He is such a part of the Mizzou football program that Mizzou's practice fields are named in his honor.

Mizzou Hall of Fame Bio: A fixture in Mizzou athletic circles for more than 40 years, Kadlec, a native of St. Louis, was an all-conference linemen in 1950, and was the first to be pictured on the MU media guide that same year. He served as an assistant football coach at Mizzou under Don Faurot, Frank Broyles, Dan Devine, and Al Onofrio, and has been a Tiger administrator since 1986. He also served two terms of duty at Kansas State, as an assistant football coach under Doug Weaver, and as the Wildcats' chief fund-raiser. Kadlec currently serves Missouri as special assistant to the athletic director, and as color commentator on the Tiger Network.

Gary Pinkel

It probably goes without saying that Gary Pinkel is bound for the Mizzou Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame one day.  Assuming he stays at Mizzou through the length of his current contract, he will likely retire as Mizzou's all-time winningest coach.  In ten seasons at Mizzou, he has won 77 games; he is just 16 wins behind Dan Devine and 24 behind Don Faurot.  Though Mizzou plays more games per season these days, Pinkel is also third in win percentage among Mizzou coaches on the job for at least three years -- his .611 percentage stands behind only Dan Devine's .704 and the .740 W.J. Monilaw posted from 1906 to 1908. In the last five seasons, Pinkel is 48-19 (.716).  (For good measure, he is already Toledo's all-time winningest coach to boot.)

MUtigers.com Bio: In 10 years at the University of Missouri, Gary Pinkel has meticulously built a previously downtrodden program into one of the most successful in the nation. With 40 wins in the last four seasons (ranking as 10th-most in the nation from 2007-10), three division titles in the last four years, and a school-record six-consecutive bowl game appearances, Pinkel's vision for success has come to fruition, and is pointed toward an even brighter future.

Mizzou is coming off the third 10-win season in the last four years under Pinkel, as the 2010 Tigers went 10-3 overall, including a 6-2 mark in Big 12 Conference play that earned them a spot atop the North Division rankings for the third time since 2007. Included among those 10 wins a year ago was a watershed moment for the program, and for Tiger Nation overall - a 36-27 win over top-ranked Oklahoma on Homecoming, which marked the first-ever win by Mizzou over a #1-ranked team.  ...

Pinkel ranks third on Mizzou's all-time coaching wins list with a 77-49 record. He is in a select group of MU coaches that includes College Football Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine, as well as Warren Poweres, as the only coaches to have an MU record above .500 dating back to 1935.

Pinkel has guided Mizzou to seven bowl games, surpassing the previous MU record of six he previously held along with Dan Devine. With wins in the 2008 AT&T Cotton Bowl (38-7 over Arkansas) and in the 2008 Valero Alamo Bowl (30-23 over Northwestern), Pinkel became the first coach to lead the Tigers to bowl victories in consecutive seasons since Powers did the trick in 1981 and 1982.

Over the past eight seasons, Pinkel has led Missouri to a 68-35 record (66.2%) and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl, Pinkel has won 49 of his last 68 games overall (72.1%). He is the first coach in school history to earn six straight bowl berths.

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