As Eliah Drinkwitz enters his second season as the head coach of the Mizzou Tigers, the Missouri football coach wasn’t ranked very highly in SEC head coach rankings. Should he be ranked higher?
The Mizzou Tigers are headed into the second year of the Eliah Drinkwitz (also known as Eli Drinkwitz) era of Missouri football. After some up and down seasons following the departure of Gary Pinkel (and a pretty rough year that capped off the end of the Pinkel era of Mizzou football) this team seems like it’s finally starting to get going in the right direction.
The time between Drinkwitz and Pinkel featured Barry Odom as the head coach of the Missouri Tigers. Odom’s teams were decent, but they consistently fell short when they had moments to be more than just an average team.
Even though Pinkel’s time in the SEC was bookended by a couple of 5-win seasons, the Missouri Tigers tasted plenty of success with him as head coach, so when Odom’s teams fell short, it made sense for the Tigers to move on from him and to Drinkwitz.
Pinkel’s four years in the SEC included 33 wins (a 12-win season and an 11-win season mixed right in there) and a couple of SEC East titles. Missouri won the Cotton Bowl and the Citrus Bowl with Pinkel in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Odom’s four years in the SEC featured a total of 25 wins and losses in the Texas Bowl and Liberty Bowl.
Enter Eliah Drinkwitz.
Missouri football: Has Mizzou Tigers head coach Eli Drinkwitz earned more respect than he’s received in SEC head coaching rankings?
Drinkwitz arrived in Columbia, Missouri after having led the Appalachian State Mountaineers to a 12-1 season and a New Orleans Bowl berth in 2019. Prior to that, Drinkwitz gained plenty of assistant coaching experience at the likes of North Carolina State, Boise State, Arkansas State, and Auburn.
In his first season at Mizzou, the Tigers went 5-5, which was less than stellar, but was against a 10-game schedule that featured opponents exclusively from the SEC.
In the up-and-down 2020 season, Missouri grabbed a couple of wins that were certainly respectable, including a 45-41 win over LSU (the defending national champs) and a 50-48 win over Arkansas.
So, after that season, how was Drinkwitz ranked among his peers in the SEC? Well, not very highly.
Here’s how a group of experts from CBS Sports and 247Sports ranked the head coaches in the Southeastern Conference:
- Nick Saban
- Jimbo Fisher
- Kirby Smart
- Dan Mullen
- Ed Orgeron
- Mark Stoops
- Bryan Harsin
- Lane Kiffin
- Mike Leach
- Eli Drinkwitz
- Sam Pittman
- Josh Heupel
- Clark Lea
- Shane Beamer
(Check out the full list of SEC coach rankings and explanations of their rankings here).
So, despite the fact that Drinkwitz was successful before making it to Mizzou and it seems like he’s capable of leading the Tigers towards plenty of wins in the future, why isn’t he ranked higher on this list?
Mizzou’s Drinkwitz has been pretty successful, but he doesn’t have much head coaching experience so far
Despite the success that Drinkwitz and his teams have seen, he’s actually only been responsible for leading those two teams in a total of two seasons. That’s not a ton of head coaching experience to really examine.
So, Drinkwitz is still something of an unknown when it comes to evaluating his success as a head coach.
When looking at his time as a head coach, it’s also totally worth considering that Drinkwitz inherited an already successful Appalachian State Mountaineers program. It’s not as if he turned Appalachian State into a Group of Five powerhouse, that team was already really good.
So, it makes some sense that Drinkwitz would continue to have to prove himself now that he’s in the SEC.