Gary Pinkel: 'I'm staying' at Mizzou

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel put to rest any speculation about his future Thursday, saying that he plans on staying with the No. 5 Tigers.

Pinkel, who has been rumored to be a candidate for Washington's coaching vacancy after Steve Sarkisian left for USC, told "Mike and Mike" on ESPN Radio that he won't be returning to his coaching roots.

"I coached there [Washington] for 12 years, and Don James is my mentor," said Pinkel, who was an assistant with the Huskies from 1979 to 1990. "I'll be quite frank: I'm staying at the University of Missouri. I, with the administration's help, will continue to build a national program in a quest for a national championship.

"I'm a Missouri Tiger, and I'm going to stay a Missouri Tiger."

Pinkel, who has been the coach at Missouri since 2001, has guided the Tigers to the SEC championship game in just their second season in the conference. Missouri (11-1, 7-1) captured the SEC East title and will play No. 3 Auburn on Saturday for a BCS bowl berth -- possibly in the championship game.

He is 101-62 with the Tigers and is tied with Don Faurot for most wins in Mizzou history.

Pinkel was a tight end for James at Kent State, then joined James' staff after his playing days were over. He left Washington to become coach at Toledo, where he had a 73-37-3 record from 1991 to 2000.