Gary Pinkel's staff has long boasted extreme continuity. There have been additions at times -- Josh Henson came aboard in 2009, Alex Grinch in 2012 -- but most of the assistants listed below have been around long enough to have both strong and sketchy seasons in Columbia.
Andy Hill was in charge of the receivers for so many incredible careers (Justin Gage, Jeremy Maclin, Danario Alexander), and he was in charge of a 2012 unit that couldn't hold onto a pass in October.
Brian Jones was Henry Josey's mentor in 2011, and he was in charge in (I think it was) 2005, when fumbles were pretty problematic.
Bruce Walker held the same title when the 2011 unit was clearing wonderful running room for Josey, James Franklin, Kendial Lawrence, and company, and when the 2012 unit was falling apart at the seams.
Et cetera. Player talent matters over everything else, but these assistants have certainly been around the block a few times. Gary Pinkel could do a lot worse than this group.
Associate Head Coach / Quarterbacks
Bill C.: Coaches often change position units many times throughout a given career. But it doesn't happen that frequently with Gary Pinkel's staff. And it doesn't necessarily happen as late in a career as it has with Andy Hill, the former Mizzou receiver who, after two years as head coach at Hutchinson CC, coached the Mizzou receivers for an incredible 17 seasons (1996-2012). He was in charge of the development of everybody from Kent Layman to Justin Gage to Jeremy Maclin to Dorial Green-Beckham. But with David Yost's departure and Josh Henson's promotion to offensive coordinator, Hill shifts to quarterbacks. We have no idea if this is a great thing or a terrible one, but having Coach Hill associated with this staff for so long has been great for recruiting, great for continuity, and great for Missouri.
MizzouRugby: Hill’s new position and his effects on our QBs intrigues me. Will Hill be able to correct the footwork of basically all of our QBs? Can he help James Franklin still develop into the senior QB this team needs despite him playing hurt for roughly half of a season last year, missing crucial development? Will we see Hill bring better chemistry between Franklin and his targets? I hope every answer is yes.
The Beef: That he is still here after Henson was moved into a role which I believe Hill sought it truly a testament to this man’s love and dedication to the university. How will he impact the growth of the quarterbacks? I would say this is a pretty impactful season for this, as we are likely to lose a senior starter and have a number of people in line to take it over next year. That development has to start now on all levels
countrycal: Coach Hill appears to me to be the most like HCGP of all our coaches. He is steady, he is thoughtful, and he is confident – and has the ability to pass that confidence on to others. That is what makes him a talented recruiter in my opinion. It also made him a good coach for wide receivers. Certainly they have to run good routes, and they have to turn into open field blockers once a teammate comes into his area. But most importantly, a wide receiver has to believe in himself, he has to have the confidence that he will make the catch and then move the ball farther downfield. We have seen some very prolific receivers thrive under the low-key, consistent coaching of Andy Hill. I believe we will see the same influence on our quarterbacks in the next few years until Coach Hill moves on up to the head coaching position when Coach Pinkel is ready to retire – yep, folks, you heard it here first: that is my prediction.
Bill C.: When you think about the recruiting rankings of the running backs Missouri brings to campus, and when you think about their eventual production, I've got to say that Brian Jones might be the most underappreciated member of the coaching staff (and it's possible that recruiting has something to do with that). And he's got quite a few interesting weapons at his disposal this fall.
MizzouRugby: "Get Henry Josey prepared for the SEC" should the only bulletin point on his responsibilities list.
The Beef: He can get Josey ready, do the same with Morgan Steward and Russell Hansbrough behind him, and then he could do a little recruiting. Jones has sometimes been seen as a weak link in that recruiting process, so he may as well add that as a bulletin point if we are making a list.
countrycal: Another longtime Pinkel disciple who just does his job, and does it well. He saw the team change to the spread and didn’t whine or gripe, but just went about helping to build an uptempo offense that has regularly featured backs who made the defense pay if they spent too much time worrying about the pass. I like Jones; I like the run production we have gotten with him as running backs coach even better. This coaching staff is not a group of talented coaches – it is a coaching team that works together like a finely-tuned motor.
Bill C.: "He has coached players like..." is sometimes a silly way to judge an assistant coach; it's not like Peerless Price, Joey Kent, Jordy Nelson, etc., had no talent before he got his hands on them, and it's not like he built them into everything they are. But they still thrived under his watch. And hell, even when he was running backs coach at Kentucky last year, running backs were the best thing Kentucky had going for it. He has been around a lot of talent, and he has made sure those talented pieces do what they're supposed to do. That's basically all we know about him (well, that, and he has a reputation for strong recruiting), but I'll take it.
MizzouRugby: You have three monstrous talents at WR (Dorial Green-Beckham, Marcus Lucas, and L'Damian Washington). If MU is going to have an effective, even prolific offense, these three need to have break out seasons.
The Beef: The man seems to have walked into a pretty stout group of receivers, which also includes Texas transfer Darius White among others. He also appears to have made some immediate strides on recruiting, so you really cannot ask for much more than that. But he will be seriously judged (along with Henson) if DGB and this group don't step up big time this year.
countrycal: Successful SEC experience – three good reasons to give this guy my support. More importantly, he was chosen by Pinkel – looks like a home run to me.
MizzouRugby: Maybe the lack of a Karma Thread this year will make your job a lot easier.
The Beef: With Henson moving to the OC position, does more of the development of the O-line fall on Walker now? I would have to believe it does at some level, so this becomes a big year for him. He should have a lot more to work with than he did last year as Rugby alluded to, but what is done with it will be the focus. Can this line now keep up with the increased pace of play we have seen references to? Will there be enough depth to assist in that endeavor. Who will have to try to block Jadeveon Clowney come late October? Lots of questions, but this group needs to have their best year as a unit in some time for the overall team to be better.
countrycal: We know what he can do with tight ends: nuff said. He also shared the burden, and glory, of three very good offensive lines before last year’s injury-ridden catastrophy. Like the Beef said above, this is a big year for Coach Walker. I think the most important call of the season has already been made, either by him, Henson, Pinkel or the whole group. That is the choice of moving Evan Boehm to center. Last year was the first year in the Pinkel era that we have not had a ultra-quality center who could deliver the ball consistently and handle his blocking assignments as well. Take away the 30-50% of poor snaps and I believe our offense would have performed much better last year. I personally believe we lost two, maybe three games, due to the inability to avoid three-and-outs, and most of the time that could be attributed to the fact we seldom got three consecutive good snaps. Got my faith in Walker, Boehm and this years offensive line.
MizzouRugby: Losing Sheldon Richardson is a big loss to a defense. But Coach Kool may be able to make it up with the development of 2-3 stellar DE’s (Kony Ealy, Michael Sam, Shane Ray) that might have just as much chaotic effect on opposing O-Lines.
The Beef: When I stop to think about it, I suppose I am a little surprised Coach Kul has not received more looks for other positions. The man has been as good as any position coach at Mizzou about getting talent to the NFL, and I think his recruiting has been pretty solid over the years well. That said, with the loss of Richardson, he may have his toughest job ever in trying to make sure this line can stand up to the rigors and style of SEC play.
countrycal: How many Mizzou defensive linemen have made all-conference and/or moved to the NFL? And how long has Coach Kuligowski coached alongside Gary Pinkel? Yep, the SEC is bigger and faster up front than the Big 12 as a whole, but this man knows how to coach defensive linemen into the pros, and that doesn’t happen if you don’t play powerful, consistent defense. I’m looking for Hoch, Ealy and Coach Kul to make some noise this year.
The Beef: I think this group will be fine, but it may be the recruiting which Ford is judged on more this coming season. The few big names this year which the state of Missouri has on the high school level reside in Ford’s territory, and while he has been more than capable in recent and past years, we end up judging the more recent run. Can Ford’s unit key a strong start which may, in turn, help his recruiting efforts locally?
countrycal: Another quality Pinkel-team coach with some experience and untested talent. Looking forward to a more aggressive coverage style this year and a great year for E.J. and the gang. If we don’t happen to get the same rush this year as in previous years with the all-conference players, then the corners are going to have to really step up. Here’s believing they will.
MizzouRugby: With great pieces to work with such as Randy Ponder, E.J. Gaines and some interesting underclassmen, a repeat of last year’s string of missed coverages will be highly disappointing.
The Beef: I feel like Grinch has helped open up some southern doors for us on the recruiting side. On the field, I feel like there are a number of people waiting for Ian Simon to overtake Matt White at one of the safety positions. There are a number of young options back there, it remains to be seen if Grinch can coach them up to help create a solid secondary.
countrycal: This is the group that concerns me the most. It is going to be interesting to watch the deep outfield develop. Is there enough talent there for the SEC? I don’t know, but I truely believe there is enough potential to build a great secondary. Grinch had great success at Wyoming with his d-backs – let’s home he can do the same here in his second year. Go Coach Grinch, Go Mizzou!
Bill C.: All I can say is that in Grinch's first season in charge of the safeties, they held their own much better than I feared they would. That is an incredibly incomplete picture, but hey, 1-for-1 is still batting 1.000.