Type "Fire Gary Pinkel" into your Google search bar and you get 91,500 returns. There are websites and Twitter accounts dedicated to the ouster of Missouri's head coach. "Put the man on the hot seat already," FirePinkel's bio reads. "We're grateful he took us to this level, but he'll never won on it."
You could see their thinking, however shortsighted it may have been. Missouri was in the S-E-C now and needed to play a style that could win in the S-E-C with a coach that knew how to win in the S-E-C. The Tigers' quote-unquote finesse running game wouldn't cut it, and Missouri's 5-7 debut campaign proved that. While fellow newcomer Texas A&M instantly became the conference's new star pupil, Missouri was stuck at the back of the classroom. In a 14-team league, they were Team 14.
Of course, it wasn't that simple. It never is.
Of Missouri's seven losses, three were by a touchdown or less. A 5-7 mark could've just as easily been an 8-5 finish. And then there were the injuries. The Tigers played the entire season without starting running back Henry Josey, starting quarterback James Franklin spent the heart of the season going in and out of the lineup, and the offensive line lost four contributors for the season.
A year later, everything about Missouri's luck turned on its head. After ending on the wrong end of too many close games, Mizzou simply stopped playing them. Ten of their 11 wins are by 14 points or more. All 11 are by at least a touchdown. Outside of one awful quarter - when the Tigers blew a 17-0 fourth-quarter lead at home versus South Carolina - Pinkel's bunch joins Florida State as the most consistently dominant team in college football. Injuries haven't been near the problem they were last season - only one player has been lost for the season, and redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk performed admirably in Franklin's stint on the injured list.
Pinkel was never as bad as it looked last season, and he's benefitted from good fortune this season. And he knows it.
Who else knows it? Pinkel's boss, Mike Alden. After winning at least a share of three Big 12 North titles from 2007-10, Missouri is in the SEC title game - shocking everyone by beating fellow Big 12 refugee Texas A&M to Atlanta - and Pinkel will be a finalist for each and everyone one of the 61 national coach of the year awards (give or take a few).
That Fire Pinkel Twitter account? Not a peep this season.
There were 31 head coaching changes last season, and perhaps the best move was the one not made.