COLUMBIA, Mo. – Gary Pinkel is 61, at the top of his profession, in the middle of possibly the best coaching year of his life.
But when asked about possible interest in the just-vacated Washington job, the former offensive coordinator under Don James, Missouri's coach would not answer directly.
“Press conference is over,” Pinkel said Monday after being asked by CBSSports.com one-on-one about Washington.
The national coach of the year candidate had just left the podium for his weekly remarks to the media prior to Saturday's SEC title game. He indicated the question should have been asked then.
Pinkel spent 13 years as Washington as coach of the tight ends, wide receivers and offensive coordinator (1976, 1979-1990). He has said repeatedly he attempts to run his program the same way as James, his mentor, who passed away Oct. 20. Pinkel became emotional at that time when talking about James after his passing.
Asked to compare the Washington job now to when James was there, Pinkel said, “Phil Knight wasn't doing anything at the University of Oregon.”
Oregon is one of Washington's biggest rivals.
Asked later about Pinkel and Washington, Mizzou AD Mike Alden told CBSSports.com, “We haven't talked to anybody. We don't know any of that. Our focus is on the Auburn game. However, when those kinds of things come up. If there is any speculation that's just recognition of the success you're having at your place.”
Pinkel isn't thought to be a top candidate at Washington and seems fairly entrenched at Missouri. Bruce Feldman published a comprehensive list of Washington candidates on Monday.
On Saturday, Pinkel tied Don Faurot for most wins in the school's history (101). He was named a Maxwell Award national coach of the year finalist on Tuesday. The Tigers are in a conference title game for the third time in seven years. In their second year in the conference they are playing for the SEC championship on Saturday.
Still, Pinkel did not address possible interest in Washington when asked directly.
He is in his 13th year at Missouri, has a contract that runs through 2017.
“I'm looking forward to working with him for a long time,” Alden said.
Pinkel visited James in Seattle before his death.
“I saw their [Washington's] facilities, pretty awesome,” he said of Husky Stadium's $250 million upgrade.