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University of Missouri

Faurot Forever

Don Faurot’s legacy defines Mizzou athletics.

Don Faurot

Don Faurot had reigned as Mizzou football’s winningest coach from 1942 to 2014. Photo courtesy of MU Archives, C:31/2/12.

Donald Burrows Faurot was always slim. When he arrived in Columbia from his Mountain Grove, Missouri, hometown in 1921, his slight frame discouraged him from trying out for Missouri’s freshman football team.

Now the late Thin Man, following a career as a player, coach, teacher and athletic director, is synonymous with Mizzou athletics.

Faurot’s father was the director of an experimental fruit station where Faurot lost two fingers on his right hand in an orchard farming accident. By his senior year at MU, he had overcome the disadvantage and bulked up to 145 pounds to punt and play fullback for Missouri Coach Gwinn Henry.

On the recommendation of another Mizzou legend, athletic director Chester Brewer, Northeast Missouri State Teachers College (NMSTC, now Truman State University) hired Faurot, BS Ag ’25, MA ’27, to coach baseball, basketball, football and track. Faurot’s football teams in Kirksville went 63–13-3 and won 26 consecutive games before he relocated to coach and direct athletics at his alma mater in 1935.

When the Tigers defeated Texas A&M Nov. 30, 2013, Gary Pinkel and Faurot each had 101 career wins at Mizzou, but it wasn’t the icons’ first important parallel. Both coaches spent significant time at another institution where they compiled the best record in that school’s history. Both implemented prolific offenses at Mizzou.

Perhaps most memorably, Faurot and Pinkel witnessed dramatic safeties to punctuate signature wins against the reviled Kansas Jayhawks. In Faurot’s final game as coach in 1956, Mizzou defensive lineman Chuck Mehrer, BA ’58, tackled Kansas running back Bobby Robinson in the Memorial Stadium end zone for a 15–13 victory. In 2007, with the BCS No. 1 ranking on the line, Mizzou defensive lineman Lorenzo Williams, BS ’07, sacked Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing to seal a 36–28 victory for Pinkel’s Tigers.

Faurot, who died Sept. 19, 1995, and Pinkel are also known for cultivating close relationships with athletes.

Faurot made a point of going to the rooms of many of his players to keep open lines of communication,” former NMSTC player Fred Schwengel told the Chariton Collector in 1986. “He truly cared about his players.”