News broke on Thursday night that the University of Missouri had found its successor to Gary Pinkel in hiring Barry Odom. Odom, who served as Mizzou’s, defensive coordinator last year takes over a Tiger football program that had a down year in 2015 but will be looking to once again become a relevant team as it had in the previous 15 years under Pinkel.
Odom appears to be a good fit for Mizzou. He is a Missouri graduate, having played on the team from 1996-99, before joining the coaching ranks for eight years before moving on to the University of Memphis. Odom was a hot name even prior to this season as he quickly made a name for himself at Memphis as their defensive coordinator, quickly turning around a defense that was among the country’s best. He has worked quickly worked his way to the top of the coaching ranks; beginning with high school coaching ranks, then starting as a lowly graduate assistant and culminating with the head coaching position in Columbia. Odom has the work ethic, the results, and the passion to become a successful head coach for Mizzou.
During the past week many names were bantered about as a possible head coach; from Tom Herman, Sonny Dykes, Mike Bobo, and even Bo Pellini. Some fans were even clamoring for Les Miles, before LSU said they were sticking with him, or Mark Richt. Herman is the only “candidate” I felt may have been better. There was the obvious connection with Missouri Athletic Director Mack Rhoades hiring Herman at the University of Houston before moving onto Missouri. Herman jump started the Houston program, which has been among the nation’s best teams this year, but it was announced over the weekend that he would be signing an extension and staying. Thus closing that door. With that door closed I felt the best choice was Odom.
Dykes, the coach at Cal, has done a fine job in his three years there but nothing overly impressive. Bobo, in his first year with Colorado State, worked with a couple of NFL quarterbacks in Aaron Murray and Matthew Stafford, but had a huge $5 million buyout; which is enormous considering he only has one year of head coaching experience. I refuse to believe that Pellini, most recently of Youngstown State, was a serious candidate and couldn’t believe some of the reports that came out on Thursday saying he had the edge. He is just a flat out a** and I have never liked him, dating back to when he was with Nebraska.
The two biggest and most well-known names (Miles and Richt) were never likely candidates. Even if Miles had become available I am not sure he would have been a better choice than Odom. Miles is 62 years old, just one year younger than Pinkel, and while age was not the reason Pinkel retired at 62 Mizzou would have likely been searching again in a few years if they had hired Miles. Throw in the fact the Miles’ great success has come at LSU, which is in Louisiana, a state that is so filled with standout players he could simply bump into one while walking down Bourbon Street. Richt would have been an interesting hire but Mizzou would never have a chance with Richt’s alma mater, the University of Miami, securing him.
Which brings us back to Odom. Just as Miami hired a former player Mizzou decided to do the same, bringing a former Tiger to take over the helm of the program. As mentioned before Odom has worked his way up from the bottom and I think that will benefit him as he breaks into head coaching. He worked high school ranks, a powerhouse in Oklahoma (Ada) and taking his Columbia Rock Bridge to a state quarterfinals. Odom then joined the Mizzou coaching staff and after spending one year as a graduate assistant was named Director of Recruiting and Football Operations. Under his time the Tigers signed such players as Tony Temple, Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, Ziggy Hood, Will Franklin, William Moore, Danario Alexander, Tim Barnes, Cornelius (Pig) Brown, Jeremy Maclin, and Sean Weatherspoon. Those names seem familiar? Yes those are the core group of players that led Mizzou to some of their most memorable seasons.
Odom can coach, as seen by his work with the defensive side of the ball; and he can recruit, as evident by the players associated with the Mizzou program while he was in charge of recruiting. Odom clearly has the connection to Mizzou which means he will bring passion. Not to say a coach won’t try as hard no matter where he is at but being at your alma mater, instills a little more pride. From the quotes I have seen he also clearly has a leadership style that will connect with players, much in the same mold as Pinkel.
Coaching is difficult. There is never a sure thing as a coach. They have to deal with outside forces and can only do so much before it falls on the players. But Barry Odom certainly has the traits and tools it appears to pick up where Gary Pinkel left off and get the Tigers to roar in the SEC once more. I am happy to see Barry Odom as the Tigers head coach, now let’s hope this #MizzouMade story has a happy ending. Go Tigers!