The Mizzou Football program earned quite a bounty of individual awards today as the Southeastern Conference announced that Head Coach Gary Pinkel has been voted by league coaches as the 2014 SEC Coach of the Year. In addition, junior DE Shane Ray (Kansas City, Mo.) has been selected as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, while senior back Marcus Murphy (DeSoto, Texas) has been named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year.
Missouri was given a damn bounty of respect today from fellow SEC coaches. Between this and the rather prestigious Citrus Bowl bid given on Sunday, it's been a difficult week for cries of disrespect in Columbia.
I'm really happy for Ray and Murphy, but among these three, I think I'm happiest right now for Gary Pinkel. Midway through the season, it was justifiable to wonder if Missouri could top about six wins this year. The receiving corps was thin, banged up, and ineffective. Maty Mauk had lost the plot. The offensive line was mistake-prone. Markus Golden was hobbling. A relatively inexperienced secondary hadn't completely come around yet. That this team was able to win six consecutive games and a second straight SEC East title was, as we've said many times by now, the best in-season coaching job of Gary Pinkel's career.
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen was given SEC coach of the year by media, and that was fine, too -- he had MSU at No. 1 in the polls for the first time ever. But Pinkel deserves whatever honors he receives as well. He and his staff did one hell of a job of adapting midseason. Kudos.