Missouri gives coach Drinkwitz a contract extension through the 2028 season – Metro US

Missouri gives coach Drinkwitz a contract extension through the 2028 season

APTOPIX Cotton Bowl Football
Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz, bottom left, and quarterback Brady Cook celebrate the team’s win over Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 29, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri rewarded coach Eliah Drinkwitz a contract extension through the 2028 season on Sunday after he led the Tigers to an 11-2 record and a victory over Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.

Drinkwitz’s contract was due to expire after the 2027 season. The extension approved by the Missouri Board of Curators also is expected to include a bump in pay, though the school had yet to announce the financial details.

Drinkwitz was hired before the 2020 season after a single but ultra-successful season at Appalachian State, where he went 12-1 and won the New Orleans Bowl. The timing could not have been worse — the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for him to build the program — and the result was three straight .500 regular seasons and two losses in bowl games.

Despite the relatively mediocre results, Missouri gave the 40-year-old coach an extension in 2022 that took his pay to $6 million per year, and Drinkwitz made it pay off this season. Picked to finish in the middle of the SEC, the Tigers’ only losses came against Georgia and LSU, and they beat rival Kansas State along with Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida and Arkansas.

“You can’t do this alone,” Drinkwitz said in a statement, “and our players, coaches and staff have worked tirelessly and believed in the process of building a championship program. The passion of our fan base, alumni and donors is awesome. We are extremely grateful for the resources they provided and the continued investment from our administration.”

Drinkwitz was The Associated Press SEC coach of the year and finished third in voting for the national award.

The Tigers were considered heavy underdogs in the Cotton Bowl against Ohio State, which barely missed out on a spot in the College Football Playoff. But they rallied in the fourth quarter for a 14-3 victory to cap their season.

They could be in the mix for a playoff spot next year, too, when the field expands to 12. Quarterback Brady Cook, standout wide receiver Luther Burden III and several other key players are expected to return, and the Tigers already have supplemented them with a top-25 recruiting class highlighted by five-star defensive end Williams Nwaneri.

“Coach Drinkwitz and his staff have done a tremendous job in this modern era of intercollegiate athletics,” Missouri athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said. “Continuity is important in implementing a championship culture, maximizing student-athlete potential and recruiting future Tigers. Our program is positioned to continue our momentum into the future.”

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football