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Former Rocket football coach named to MAC Hall of Fame

Gary Pinkel, former Toledo football coach, was among five individuals recently named as 2015 inductees to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame.

Pinkel

Pinkel

The five new members will be inducted Wednesday, May 27, at 6 p.m. during the MAC Honor’s Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.

Joining Pinkel will be Casey Cunningham (Central Michigan, wrestling), Bob Parks (Eastern Michigan, men’s cross country, men’s track and field), Ben Roethlisberger (Miami, football), and George Dales (Western Michigan, men’s cross country, men’s track and field).

Pinkel has a long association with the Mid-American Conference from his time as UT head football coach from 1991 to 2000, to his origins as a Kent State football player and graduate in 1975.

In Pinkel’s 10 seasons as the head coach of the Rockets, Toledo players were named to the Academic All-MAC team or Academic Honor Roll 61 times, more than any other league school during that time period. He coached two Academic All-Americans at Toledo, Craig Dues (1995, 1996) and Todd France (2000).

During his decade at the helm, Pinkel racked up the most wins in school history (73), as well as the highest winning percentage (.659) among those coaches who were on the sidelines for at least three seasons. He also ranks fifth in the MAC in wins, fourth in wins in MAC contests (53), and eighth in winning percentage.

He led his team to a MAC Championship in 1995, as the Rockets went 11-0-1, won the Las Vegas Bowl, and ended the season ranked No. 22 in the final coaches’ poll. He also led UT to MAC West Division titles in 1997 and 1998. In his final season at Toledo in 2000, Pinkel’s Rockets went 10-1, including a 24-6 win at Penn State. His teams ranked in the top 25 in three different seasons — 1995, 1997 and 2000.

He was MAC Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1997. Pinkel left Toledo after the 2000 season to accept the head coaching position at Missouri, leading the Tigers into the top 10 in 2007 and 2008, as well as to SEC East titles in 2013 and 2014. He is Missouri’s all-time leader in wins (113-66), making him the all-time victory leader at two schools.

Pinkel was a three-time letterwinner as a tight end at Kent State from 1971 to 1973. In his senior season, he earned All-MAC and honorable mention All-America honors.

At Toledo, Pinkel established volunteer programs for his team with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity, as well as numerous elementary school outreach programs in the Toledo area. He has the unique distinction of being in the hall of fame at two MAC schools, Kent State and Toledo.

The MAC Hall of Fame was approved by the MAC Council of Presidents in 1987. The charter class was inducted in 1988 and subsequent classes were added in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. After six induction classes, the MAC Hall of Fame maintained 52 members until it was reinstated in 2012. This year’s class brings the number of MAC Hall of Fame inductees to 77 individuals from 10 classes.

Tickets for the MAC Honor’s Dinner — individual tickets for $100 each and a table of 10 for $950 — are available by contacting Julie Kachner at the Mid-American Conference Office at 216.566.4622.