Barry Odom replaces Pinkel as Missouri football coach

Barry Odom MU

JANUARY 2016 – Barry Odom might not have been the first choice to replace Gary Pinkel as the Missouri football coach, but he appears to be a popular choice

Pinkel, who spent 15 years at Missouri, is the winningest football coach in the university’s history, but he resigned in November after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May.

Pinkel went 23-5 and won back-to-back Southeastern Conference East Division titles in 2013-14. From 2007-10, the Tigers won at least 10 games under Pinkel’s tutelage. He set the Missouri bar high, although his teams never won a Big 12 or SEC championship.

But last year, the Tigers went 1-7 in SEC play, tied for last in their division. There was racial tension at the school and in early November the football team boycotted practices and threatened to boycott games if Missouri president Tim Wolfe did not resign. The football players were supporting graduate student Jonathan Butler, who went on a hunger strike until Wolfe was removed. A swastika was drawn with human feces on a college dorm’s white wall.

Amidst that turmoil, Pinkel announced his resignation on November 13 due to health reasons.

It was not until Dec. 3 that Barry Odom, who was on the Missouri staff as the defensive coordinator, was selected to be Missouri’s 32nd head football coach.

Meanwhile, Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades was interviewing head coaches at other schools.

He went to Denver, where reportedly he talked to California coach Sonny Dykes, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, Utah State coach Matt Wells and Colorado State coach Mike Bobo.

Dino Babers of Bowling Green, Matt Campbell of Toledo and Matt Rhule of Temple were also linked to Missouri interviews.

With Pinkel coaching the school to naïve heights in the rugged SEC and the campus racial unrest, most established coaches wanted no part of the Mizzou job. Five Pinkel recruits de-committed after he announced his resignation.

Odom is a Missouri alumnus, a linebacker from 1996-99 when Gary Smith was the head coach. While Missouri struggled offensively last year, Odom’s defense ranked ninth nationally.

So Rhoades turned to Odom.

“We had the opportunity to visit with a number of excellent coaches throughout our search,” Rhoades said in a university release. “At the conclusion of that process, coach Odom was the clear choice to serve as our head coach. He is a man of high integrity and possesses all the qualities you look for in a successful head coach. He has an undeniable passion for Mizzou, a strong track-record of success at each level of his career and a clear vision to mentor our student-athletes and lead our program to even greater heights.”

One of Odom’s first steps after being named was reinstating starting quarterback Maty Mauk, who was suspended for eight games last season.

“The foundation that is in place with Mizzou football and the athletics department is on really solid footing,” Odom said at his introductory press conference. “I’m looking forward to trying to take Mizzou football forward and to new heights. I know there’s going to be bumps along the way. I embrace that.

“My vision, without question, will be championships in all walks of life. I’m not afraid to say that out loud.”

The players surrounded the 39-year-old Barry Odom and chanted “Bar-ry! Bar-ry! Bar-ry!” when he agreed to a five-year contract.

“I’m tremendously honored to have this opportunity,” Odom said. “It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time as I’ve made my various stops leading up to this point. I understand the responsibility we have to not only carry on the tradition of excellence that Gary Pinkel has built here, but also to help this program reach new heights.

“Mizzou means the world to me and to my family, and we couldn’t be more proud and excited to be in this position.”

The Tigers have a dozen football commitments, but only one – Dallas South Oak Cliff High defensive end Marvin Terry – since Barry Odom was named head coach. The 2016 recruiting class is highlighted by four-star players – Columbia Rock Bridge High defensive end Tre Williams and Hinds (Mississippi) junior college running back Natereace Strong. Entering January, Rivals ranks Missouri’s 2016 recruiting class 14th and last in the SEC, so there is plenty of work to be done.

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Article by Alan Eskew

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