COLUMBIA — The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved a contract extension for head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz through the 2028 season, Director of Athletics Desireé Reed-Francois announced Sunday.
Under Drinkwitz, the 2023 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, the No. 9 Tigers finished the 2023 season 11-2 with Friday’s 14-3 victory over No. 7 Ohio State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas — the program’s first appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl game during the College Football Playoff era. Friday’s win clinched Mizzou’s seventh double-digit-win season in program history and the program’s first since 2014.
“My family and I want to thank the Board of Curators, President Choi, and Desireé Reed-Francois for their faith in me as the head coach,” Drinkwitz said. “You can’t do this alone, 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, and we are proud to represent them. We are extremely grateful for the resources they provide and the continued investment from our administration in Mizzou Football. All of it has allowed us to get to where we are. Why stop now!”
Drinkwitz was one of five finalists for the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award and finished third in voting for the Associated Press’ national coach of the year award. Drinkwitz was named the SEC Coach of the Year by both the league coaches and the Associated Press and was tabbed the American Football Coaches Association Region 2 Coach of the Year. He is the first MU coach to receive the SEC Coaches’ honor since Gary Pinkel in 2014.
Drinkwitz’s teams have clinched bowl eligibility in each of his four seasons at Mizzou. His 28 wins are the most for a Mizzou head coach through his first four seasons since Warren Powers from 1978-81. Drinkwitz’s 17 victories in Southeastern Conference play are the most conference wins for a Mizzou head coach through his first four seasons since Dan Devine from 1958-61.
“The University of Missouri and Mizzou Athletics continue to ascend on an upward trajectory in the Southeastern Conference, and the Board of Curators is excited to see Coach Drinkwitz continue to build on the foundation he has established,” UM Board of Curators Chair Michael Williams said. “A thriving Mizzou Football program is important to our state, our university, and our Department of Athletics, and the 2023 season has demonstrated the immense value Coach Drinkwitz and his program bring to the University of Missouri.”
“Well before the Cotton Bowl, the opening of the transfer portal, and the early signing period, the Board of Curators decided to reward Coach Drinkwitz with a raise and an extension,” 2024 UM Board of Curators Chair Robin Wenneker said. “The Board of Curators, alongside President Choi and Athletics Director Reed-Francois, are proud to support the future of Mizzou Athletics with this new contract. This contract puts Coach Drink where he belongs, in the upper echelon of SEC head coach salaries. To continue in championship style, keeping Coach Drink and his staff together was the number one priority for the Board of Curators and its administration. Under the leadership of Coach Drinkwitz and his staff, Mizzou Football continues to raise its standard of excellence on the field, in the classroom, throughout the community, and on the recruiting trail.”
Earlier in December, Drinkwitz signed his third Top 25 recruiting class in the last four years, including securing the commitment of the top-ranked player in the state, five-star defensive lineman Williams Nwaneri from Lee’s Summit. Nwaneri became the second five-star prospect to sign with Mizzou in the last three years, following 2022 recruit and 2023 All-American wide receiver Luther Burden III. Mizzou’s 2024 recruiting class also features 11 four-star prospects, the most MU has ever signed in a single class.
“Mizzou Football and Mizzou Athletics are on the rise, and it is crucial for the university that we sustain our success on a national level and build on the momentum that Coach Drinkwitz, his staff, and Director of Athletics Desireé Reed-Francois have captured,” University of Missouri President Mun Choi said. “The incredible 2023 season and the Cotton Bowl victory reflect the excellence that Coach Drinkwitz and our athletics department have created for our university and the state. We will continue to invest in the future of Mizzou Football and Mizzou Athletics. This is an investment for Missouri and Missourians”
Under Drinkwitz’s watch, Mizzou has produced the SEC’s rushing leader in two of the past three seasons, including 2023 team captain and consensus All-American Cody Schrader, who won the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation’s best player who began his career as a walk-on, and who finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting, the program’s highest vote-getter since Chase Daniel finished fourth in 2007. Schrader broke Mizzou’s single-season rushing record this year with 1,627 yards. Quarterback Brady Cook was named the SEC’s Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and has enjoyed his best collegiate season this fall, throwing for 21 touchdowns and 3,317 yards — eighth-most in team history. Burden, a first-team All-SEC choice and All-American enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons by a Mizzou receiver with 86 catches for 1,212 yards, which rank sixth and third in program history, respectively.
In the classroom, six football student-athletes recorded perfect 4.0 GPAs during the Fall semester, while 35 posted GPAs of 3.5 or better. Nine football student-athletes earned their degrees in December.
For the second straight season, Mizzou led the SEC in attendance growth year-over-year with average attendance up 10.4% from the 2022 season. MU sold out each of the season’s final five home games, the most consecutive home sellouts for Mizzou since 1980. Earlier this month, Mizzou sold its entire Cotton Bowl allotment of 13,000 tickets in 18 hours.
“With Coach Drinkwitz’s innovative leadership, Mizzou Football has taken major steps to become a championship contender on college football’s national stage,” Reed-Francois said. “Coach Drinkwitz and his staff have done a tremendous job in this modern era of intercollegiate athletics. 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. I want to thank our fans and our entire state for the powerful support they’ve shown our team during this magical season and cannot wait to see them back at Faurot in 2024.”