Gary Pinkel coached Missouri to two division titles in the Big 12. His 2007 Tigers, ranked No. 1, lost 38-17 to OU in San Antonio. His 2008 Tigers, ranked 20th, lost to OU 62-21 in Kansas City.
But now the Tigers are in the SEC and are the surprising champs of the East Division. They play Auburn on Saturday in Atlanta for the SEC title and a possible Big Bowl berth.
These are heady times for Mizzou. Most predicted Missouri would struggle in the SEC, and indeed MU went 5-7 last season in its maiden voyage.
But now Missouri has trumped South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, the trio that has dominated the division in recent years. And Missouri, 11-1, could stay on track to post its best season ever, surpassing 1960, when the Tigers went 10-1 and won the Orange Bowl.
Opportunities like this don't come Missouri's way often. Pinkel needs to take advantage.