Former Toledo and Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel was the keynote speaker at an event on the UT campus Thursday. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Former University of Toledo football coach Gary Pinkel looks back on his 10 years and can be proud of what he accomplished, but also how he and his staff went about making the program a consistent winner.
“We went for 10 years, and we did the program the right way,” Pinkel said.
“We didn’t try to get in and get out. When I turned it over, I wanted to make sure that whatever happened, there was a good foundation here.”
Pinkel was back in Toledo on Thursday as part of the KeyBank Global Leaders Summit presented by the University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation. As the keynote speaker, he shared his views on leadership in front of a group of business leaders at Savage Arena.
Pinkel was the head coach at Toledo from 1991-2000 and had a career record of 73-37-3. He was named the Mid-American Conference’s coach of the year in 1995.
“It’s great to back here,” Pinkel said. “All three of my kids graduated from high school here, and two of them graduated from the University of Toledo. It’s such an important part of my life, and I have a bunch of good friends still here. Toledo looks like it is doing great too, so it’s really awesome.”
After leaving Toledo, Pinkel coached at Missouri for 15 seasons until 2015, and he led the Tigers to 10 bowl games.
Pinkel shared what he called the Mizzou Culture, which consisted of an extensive set of guidelines and philosophies he used to help guide that program back into a winner.
“I have a bit of a story to tell, I think,” Pinkel said. “I like doing that. I like talking about leadership. There are so many different aspects of it, and I try to put a few twists on it. This was really well done. I’m very honored that they invited me.”
The leadership seminar was hosted by Clint Longenecker, who is Director of the Center For Leadership and Organizational Excellence in the College of Business and Innovation at UT.
Before Pinkel’s speech, a three-person panel addressed key questions about leadership, including what shaped them into the leaders they are today, who is the best leader they have ever worked with, and why do some leaders fail.
The panelists were Cynthia Thompson, Chair of the Toledo Museum of Art Board of Directors; Charles Packard, President and Chief Financial Officer of Pacific International Capital, LLC, and Mike Anderson, Chairman of The Andersons, Inc.
After the panelists shared their insights, Pinkel was introduced.
“He is obviously really good at attracting talent, both on his staff and on his team,” Jim Hoffman, president of KeyBank, said in introducing Pinkel. “Just as important, he is known as a person who can really develop talent, whether it was at Toledo or at Missouri. It’s not that he had the best players in the country coming there, it’s that he developed them into great players.”
Pinkel touched on all different aspects of leadership, but he addressed one specific quality a leader must possess.
“Don’t be a leader if you don’t want to solve problems,” Pinkel told the crowd. “It’s a problem-solving business. You are going to wake up every day to problems, and you have to have answers, and you have to fix things, and you have to get things right. I never had problems at all, and then when I became a head coach, I had all kinds of problems.
“I had to change my attitude and say, ‘Bring it on.’ I would wake up and say, ‘Bring anything to me, I’m going to kick its butt. I’m going to solve every problem.’ Just changing my attitude did that.”
Pinkel retired from Missouri when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While he continues to battle the disease, Pinkel said his cancer is now in remission.
With more time off, Pinkel said he has been traveling and giving leadership seminars and is in the process of writing a book called The 100-yard Journey. But he still misses certain aspects of coaching.
“The two things I miss the most are the players,” Pinkel said. “Just being around them and hugging them and kicking their butt when it needs to be kicked. That is something I really, really miss.
“And the other thing I miss is when I go on the sideline and I put my headset on, for the next four hours, I was in a zone. I was in a different world. I loved game day. I didn’t like anything before or anything after, but those are the two things I miss the most.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6110.