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Winningest Rocket football coach to sign books Sept. 16

Former University of Toledo head football coach Gary Pinkel will return to campus to sign his new book, “The 100-Yard Journey: A Life in Coaching and Battling for the Win,” Saturday, Sept. 16.

He will be at the Barnes & Noble University Bookstore at the Gateway from 2 to 4 p.m.

Pinkel also will be among the honorees of Toledo’s 100-year football anniversary celebration at halftime Saturday night when Toledo takes on Tulsa at 7 p.m. in the Glass Bowl.

He co-authored the memoir published by Triumph Books with Dave Matter, who covers the University of Missouri for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Few college football coaches earn the distinction of becoming their programs’ winningest, but Pinkel has done it twice.

From 1991 to 2000, he coached the Toledo Rockets, leading the team to 73 wins, the most in school history. Pinkel also has the highest winning percentage (.659) among UT coaches who were on the sidelines at least three seasons. In addition, he ranks fifth in the Mid-American Conference in wins, fourth in wins in MAC contests (53), and eighth in winning percentage.

He led Toledo 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. Pinkel was MAC Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1997.

Pinkel

He 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 Southeastern Conference East titles in 2013 and 2014. Missouri received a No. 1 Associated Press ranking at the end of the 2007 season, and Pinkel took home SEC Coach of the Year honors in 2014. In 15 seasons, he and the Tigers won 118 games — the most by a Mizzou football coach — and reached 10 bowl games.

Pinkel’s success on the field was accompanied by personal and professional challenges, including a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which prompted him to step away from coaching in 2015.  

In the 272-pages of “The 100-Yard Journey,” the football leader reflects on meeting and overcoming the unexpected.

The book follows the 1975 Kent State University graduate’s coaching career, including serving as an assistant at the University of Washington from 1979 to 1990. And it begins with his days on the gridiron. From 1971 to 1973, Pinkel played tight end for the Golden Flashes; his senior season, he earned All-MAC and honorable mention All-America honors.

In 2009, the Akron native was inducted into UT’s Varsity ‘T’ Hall of Fame, and six years later, into the MAC Hall of Fame.

Pinkel now is a special consultant to the University of Missouri and its Athletic Department.

Copies of “The 100-Yard Journey” will be for sale at the event for $26.95.