COLUMBIA – University of Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel’s worst fears were realized on Tuesday when he accidentally placed a brown paper bag over his head and had no idea how to coach it off.
Pinkel, 57, had placed the empty paper bag on top of the refrigerator to clear space. When he absent-mindedly went to retrieve it, the bag fell, landing on his head. He immediately called for help from his assistant coaches, but with no one around, Pinkel was forced to find his own way out of the bag.
“I tried every coaching trick I could think of to get out of that bag but nothing worked,” said Pinkel. “That took about 45 seconds. After that, I just stopped doing anything and hoped my players would show up to help me.”
After four hours, Missouri football players Blaine Gabbert and Danario Alexander arrived at Pinkel’s house and bailed him out by removing the bag from his head.
“Coach is an awesome guy, and he really knows how to find great talent, but everyone has their struggles, and I guess those paper bags can be tricky,” said Gabbert. “I just feel fortunate we showed up to keep him from being stuck there all night.”
Pinkel, who has led the Tigers to a 63-43 record in eight plus years at Missouri, could have been out of the bag in just 20 minutes, when former quarterback Brad Smith made a surprise visit at the coach’s house. Pinkel, however, spent that time screaming at Smith about his need to become a drop-back quarterback, despite the fact that Smith is currently in more of a flex role with the New York Jets.
“In retrospect, I probably should have just let Brad do what was most natural for him, which was to remove the paper bag from my head,” said Pinkel. “But in the moment, I felt like I needed to team him that lesson.”