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MU Notebook: Pinkel on ballot for College Football HOF

Eric Blum
The Examiner
Former Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel, center, puts on his Missouri Legends jacket before giving a speech last year for being enshrined into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame as a Missouri Legend. Pinkel is now on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame.

For the first time, former Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel now appears on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot.

Pinkel is one of seven coaches on the ballot, with voters getting the chance to select two of the nominees.

Coaches joining Pinkel on the ballot include former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, Troy’s Larry Blakeney, former South Carolina and Texas Tech coach Jim Carlen and Memphis’ Billy Jack Murphy.

Pinkel coached at Toledo from 1991-2000 and at Missouri from 2001-15 and is the winningest coach in the history of both schools.

He led the Rockets to the 1995 Mid-American Conference title and won nine conference division titles in his career.

Pinkel posted a 7-4 postseason record and was named the Big 12 Conference coach of the year in 2007 after leading the Tigers to their first No. 1 national ranking since 1960.

The 68-year-old Pinkel recorded an overall coaching record of 191-110-3, going 118-73 at MU. Starting with the 2002 NFL Draft, Pinkel has coached 26 players selected, including seven first-round choices from 2009-15.

Among the other coaches on the ballot, Pinkel is in fourth in terms of all-time winning percentage (.633) but is the leader in wins. He also had the longest tenure of any head coach nominated, with 25 seasons leading an FBS team.

Okongo enters transfer portal

Missouri men’s basketball center Axel Okongo has entered the NCAA transfer portal, a team spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday.

Okongo spent one season with the Tigers, playing in a backup role to both Jeremiah Tilmon and Reed Nikko.

Okongo appeared in eight games at MU, but only saw the floor for 30 total minutes. He’ll leave Columbia with a perfect shooting percentage, having made both of his attempts with the Tigers.

Missouri now has one open scholarship spot for the 2020-21 season should all three players in the NBA Draft process (Tilmon, Xavier Pinson and Mitchell Smith) return to school.

Denmon, Gant to participate in TBT

The Basketball Tournament released its 24-team roster for its annual $2 million showcase, featuring players who have completed college play and aren’t on NBA rosters.

Among that group were Missouri men’s basketball alumni Marcus Denmon and JaKeenan Gant.

Denmon will play for Team Hines, while Gant will suit up for Power of the Paw.

Gant, who played for MU from 2014-16, is currently a member of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA’s G-League, while Denmon, who suited up for the Tigers from 2008-12, is a member of the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association.

TBT is a single-elimination tournament that will take place from July 4-14 in Columbus, Ohio.

eblum@columbiatribune.com