Missouri co-offensive line coach Bruce Walker, who has spent nearly 20 years as a member of Gary Pinkel's staff at both Toledo and Mizzou, announced today that he is retiring from coaching.
"In this business everybody has a time when they need to hang it up, and it’s my time. I’m very proud to have been a part of 102 wins here and all that we’ve achieved, and I’m proud of the legacy I leave behind with all the players I’ve touched over a 26-year career. Mizzou has been a special place for me, I’ve loved my time here and I’ll always be Tiger. I’ve had a great run and now it’s time to go be with my family and do other things. Coaches don’t often get to go out on their own terms, so I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to do it my way."
From the same release, here's Gary Pinkel's statement.
"Bruce informed me last night that he feels the time is right for him to step away from coaching. Bruce has been a very important part of our success here at Mizzou, and I’m very grateful to him and his family for all of the sacrifices they have made to help our program succeed. We’re going to miss him, no question, and we wish him nothing but the best. Exactly what steps we take here to fill this spot, it’s too soon to know, but we’ll get to work on that right away."
A former lineman at Central Washington who served on his alma mater's coaching staff for eight seasons before joining Pinkel at Toledo, Walker served as tight ends and offensive line coach at Mizzou from 2001-08, then moved to his most recent position as OL co-coach with Josh Henson in 2009. He coached tight ends Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman to All-American status in 2007 and 2008, he coached eight linemen to at least honorable mention all-conference status between 2009-13. In 2013, he pulled off one of his greatest feats in turning a line that was battered and beaten in 2012 into one of the best front fives in the SEC. After tearing his ACL late in the 2012 season, tackle Justin Britt rebounded to win all-SEC honors and get drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The timing for this retirement is far from ideal, with the 2014 football season beginning in under two months. But with Henson still on staff and already serving as co-coach of the line, there will be a decent amount of continuity.
Mizzou's line returns five players with starting experience in 2014, including two-year starters and all-conference contenders Evan Boehm (center) and Mitch Morse (tackle).
Good luck, Coach.