Columbia, Mo. You can scratch Gary Pinkel's name off any other school's wish list.
Missouri's coach has become a bit of a hot commodity in his seventh season, leading the Tigers to No. 1 before losing in the Big 12 championship game. But Saturday, as the team returned to practice for the Cotton Bowl, Pinkel said he was staying put.
"I'm going to stay at Missouri," Pinkel told the AP. "I'm very committed here. We've made a lot of gains this year, and I'm just going to try to keep working hard and keep building the program."
Pinkel, 55, said he'd like to end his career at Missouri.
"I would hope so," he said. "You never know. Generally in this business they get rid of you, you don't get rid of them."
Pinkel is seventh among Big 12 coaches in terms of salary at $1.3 million and is in line for a raise after the bowl game that could significantly boost his compensation. He said he hadn't reassured players he was not looking to jump ship for a bigger payday, and players said they didn't need him to say anything.
"He's on the same mission that he sold us on when he was recruiting us," senior tight end Martin Rucker said. "I definitely didn't think he would leave. He's got a great thing going here, and he's a very loyal guy."
Pinkel was on the latest list of candidates for the Michigan job. Quarterback Chase Daniel, a junior, said that's the kind of thing that goes with the territory.
"He's a hot name out there," Daniel said. "You take a Missouri team to 11-2 and why wouldn't your name be thrown out there with the elite jobs?
"It's great to hear it, but we weren't too worried about that."
Pinkel's profile reflects patience. He was at Toledo for 10 years before Missouri hired him in 2000. He's 48-36 at Missouri, totaling 19 wins the last two years, and won the school's first Big 12 North title by beating Kansas. The Jan. 1 Cotton Bowl matchup against Arkansas will be the school's fourth bowl berth in five years and is a significant step up in prestige despite Missouri's plunge from the BCS picture.
"The Cotton Bowl is a great bowl," Pinkel said. "This is a great way to finish the season. We're 11-2, and there's a lot of stuff out there."
The school averaged more than 60,000 fans, its best showing since 1981.