Missouri taps Barry Odom as head coach

Odom played at Missouri in the 1990s, was an assistant coach in the mid-2000s and was the Tigers’ defensive coordinator this past season.
Barry Odom holds up the jersey that Athletic Director Mack Rhodes gave him at his announcement of becoming Missouri's new head coach Dec. 4 in Mizzou Arena.

Following days of suspense, Missouri defensive coordinator Barry Odom has emerged as the Tigers’ new head football coach. Odom succeeds Gary Pinkel, who announced his retirement last month.

"We are extremely excited to announce Barry Odom as the new leader of the Mizzou football program," athletic director Mack Rhoades said in a statement. "We had the opportunity to visit with a number of excellent coaches throughout our search. At the conclusion of that process, Coach Odom was the clear choice to serve as our next 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."

Odom has an extensive history at Missouri. He was a standout linebacker from 1996 to 1999 under Larry Smith, after which he coached at a number of high schools, including Columbia’s Rock Bridge. In 2003, he returned to Mizzou and held various assistant coaching positions, until 2009, when he became the Memphis Tigers’ safeties coach, and their defensive coordinator in 2012.

His return was celebrated last year, as he took over for Dave Steckel as the Missouri’s defensive coordinator. Despite a tough season, going 5-7 and missing a bowl game, the Tigers finished the 2015 season ranked 9th in the country in total defense under Odom, allowing only 4.32 yards per play and 302 yards per game.

Many fans and players alike seemed to favor Odom throughout the process.

“Me, personally, I feel like Coach Odom needs to be the head coach,” senior safety Ian Simon said after the Tigers’ last game. “I feel like he’d be perfect for the job. He’s a Mizzou man. Played here, graduated (from) here — I feel like he fits. The team would take on his mentality, just like the defense did this year.”

The rumor mill seemed out of control on social media throughout the week while Rhoades and Mizzou Athletics interviewed candidates before making a decision. Other possible coaches included in the gossip were California’s Sonny Dykes, Houston’s Tom Herman, Utah State’s Matt Wells and Temple’s Matt Rhule.

Odom will have to fill big shoes. Pinkel amassed a 118-73 record in his 15 years at Mizzou. He announced his retirement last month due to a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis he received in May.

"I'm tremendously honored to have this opportunity," Odom said in a statement. "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. There are so many people I am thankful for from throughout my career — they are responsible for allowing me to learn and understand all the facets of building a program — that I couldn't name them all … I can't wait to get started."

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