COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -Gary Pinkel was rewarded for Missouri's success with a second contract extension in two years and a raise that puts him among the top paid coaches in the Big 12.
The prize for Pinkel's top assistants could be new jobs as head coaches elsewhere.
Offensive coordinator Dave Christensen and defense coordinator Matt Eberflus, both longtime Pinkel aides, have been mentioned as candidates for coaching vacancies around the country.
Christensen's name has been linked to Washington, New Mexico and Wyoming, while Eberflus is believed to be among the top choices at Toledo, where he started at linebacker under Pinkel and later served as an assistant.
Pinkel, who expects to sign a new $2.5 million deal as early as this week, is rooting for both of them.
``Shoot, I want my staff to advance,'' Pinkel said. ``I think it's very healthy. You want them to have their shot, because it's so hard to get a job.''
two seasons. Missouri (9-2, 5-2 Big 12) and rival Kansas (6-5, 3-4) play Saturday in Kansas City. Win or lose, Missouri has already earned a spot in the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 6, also at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Pinkel knows he couldn't keep enhancing his bottom line without the contributions from his staff.
``Certainly, this isn't a one-man band,'' he said. ``It's about what we've done to try to build this program.''
Christensen said he hasn't been contacted by any school and downplayed such chatter, noting that ``anybody can put anything on the Internet and it's supposedly the gospel.''
Of course, he'd like some of it to be on the money.
``If a great opportunity came and the season's over, I would be interested in listening to them,'' Christensen said. ``Everybody wants to advance their career and I'd like to be a head coach some day.
``But we've still got three games to go and I've got to put my focus on the job that I have. Which is an unbelievable job.''
Eberflus echoed those remarks.
``Every coach I've been around is able to focus on things,'' Eberflus said. ``They don't let those kind of things, even if they are positive things, distract them in any way.''
Pinkel's name was prominently mentioned for the opening at Washington, where he was a longtime assistant under Don James, adding to his leverage at Missouri.
n here,'' Christensen said. ``I don't know of too many things that would be better than what he's got going here right now.''
Pinkel is making his own breaks now, although he recalls the good fortune that launched his college coaching career. After unsuccessful interviews at Bowling Green and Kent State, Pinkel joked that a friend told him, ``If you can't get hired there, you'll never get hired.''
Pinkel's helping hand came from Nick Saban, who was leaving Toledo to join Bill Belichick's staff with the Cleveland Browns. Saban arranged for Pinkel's interview.
``If Nick Saban's not there, I'm not standing here,'' Pinkel said. ``So many things have to happen right just to get the opportunity.''
Christensen has been mentioned for openings in the past, given his role in Missouri's no-huddle, spread offense. The Tigers are fourth in the nation with a 45-point average, sixth in total offense at 514 yards per game, fourth with 351.5 yards passing per game.
Missouri's defense has been disappointing despite 10 returning starters. The Tigers are 89th in total defense, allowing an average of 393 yards.
Eberflus' career has a parallel to that of Pinkel, who played for James and then coached for him before striking out on his own.
``He's done a great job, a very smart guy and has a good relationship with the players,'' Pinkel said. ``He's got a great, great future.
``The problem is, you can be good enough to get a job, and it just doesn't fit.''

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