Barry Odom introduces ideals, staff changes and expectations

Mack Rhoades: “This is a historic day, a great day for the university. It’s the beginning of a new era.”
Barry Odom, Missouri's newly announced Head Football Coach, gives a press conference on Dec. 4 at the Mizzou Arena.

Gary Pinkel and Barry Odom embraced. One historic football coach to his successor, a lengthy hug at Mizzou Arena in front of the most influential members of the Missouri family at Friday’s introductory press conference marked the start of a new era.

On a chilly afternoon, walking in with his family as the black and gold’s new head man must’ve felt different for Odom. A day earlier, on Thursday, Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades announced the hiring of the former Tiger linebacker and defensive coordinator under Pinkel.

The presser led off with an opening statement from Rhoades, who said five coaches were interviewed for the Missouri job. Ultimately, though, it was Odom’s “high football acumen” and “competitive fire” that put him over the top.

“This is a historic day, a great day for the university. It’s the beginning of a new era,” Rhoades said. “Although already a member of our family, please stand and join me in welcoming Coach Odom, his wife Tia and their three children: JT, Garrett and Allen.”

Odom used to dream of hearing such words from an MU athletic director’s mouth. The 39-year-old, who once coached local high school Rock Bridge to a state semifinal game, has given 14 years to the Missouri program — four as a player, four as a coach and six as an administrative assistant.

Returning to Mizzou this past year to man the Tiger defense opened up this opportunity. He’s fired up; he’s motivated. Odom is ready to embark on manning the ship for his alma mater.

“I believe that, for a number of reasons, we’re all brought here together,” Odom said. “Last night, meeting with the football team for the first time, I paid those guys a couple of dollars to make sure they were excited when I walked in the door.”

Thursday night, when Rhoades told the football team that the Tigers’ new guy was ready to introduce himself to the team, one viewing the team meeting video could feel the room’s emotion.

It mirrored the locker room moments that Pinkel shared with his players. That moment was what Rhoades’ coaching search was supposed to conclude with.

And for Odom, it was Rhoades, the players and especially Pinkel who made this possible.

“Everywhere that I’ve been over the past 15 years, I’ve taken notes,” Odom said. “From every one of Gary Pinkel’s staff meetings, from every one of Mike Alden’s departmental meetings and every one of Mack Rhoades meetings so far. As I was going through some of those notes, I saw four words that kept sticking out: you’ve got to have great direction, you’ve got to have great trust, you’ve got to have show great hope and you’ve got to have the opportunity to show results.”

Results will come with change, though, and included in that are the alterations Odom must make to his staff. Throughout the day Friday, many coaches were confirmed to be departing the University of Missouri.

Josh Henson, the interim head coach following Pinkel’s retirement and the Tigers’ offensive coordinator since 2013, will not be returning, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Columbia Tribune also reported that offensive line coach A.J. Ricker would not be returning.

Defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski’s status — a guy who came to Mizzou with Pinkel from Toledo — remains up in the air, while both quarterbacks coach Andy Hill and safeties coach Cornell Ford will return to the sidelines in Columbia, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and, respectively.

"It’s hugely important for us to find the right fit for us moving forward," Odom said. "Those guys have done a tremendous job, have been here for a number of years and done a great job. I don’t want to put a timeline to when I want to put a staff in place.”

With Pinkel in the crowd observing his pupil, questions regarding his former staff had to be slightly awkward. But it’s Odom’s job now — his ideals, his decisions, his program.

And though those ideals may differ and his decisions may be unique, Odom expressed Pinkel’s sentiment that Missouri has what it takes to reach the peaks of the sport.

“Without question,” Odom said, “this is a place where I expect to win championships.”

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