Is it 2014 again? I’m in here talking about football so I don’t have to talk about basketball yet. Everything old is new again.
A month or so ago, of course, it was the opposite. Regardless, Monday’s big news was more confirmation than news, I guess: Barry Odom will be back for a third season in 2018.
The man with the power to write the ending has decided another chapter is deserved.
Mizzou athletics director Jim Sterk confirmed Monday what the Tigers’ about-face made almost inevitable.
A bowl trip in the bag means Barry will be back for year three.
“To get to six wins, so you make it to a bowl, is a big step,” Sterk told the Post-Dispatch. “Now, we are able to take it even further, and look at going 7-5, or 8-5 (with a bowl win). Six wins, especially for our program, where it was two years ago and where we are today, we are light years ahead of where we were, in the locker room, and on the field of play.”
I assumed this to be the case when Mizzou got to five wins, honestly, but confirmation is always good.
Mizzou’s football turnaround has either warped or unwarped perceptions of Odom as a head coach. Case in point:
Serious question - could Odom win SEC coach of the year? I mean the default answer is Saban, but what Odom pulled off this year is what coaching is all about. https://t.co/I7ReIA9MMV— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 20, 2017
I’m all for happy Mizzou content, but I struggle with this idea simply because “coach of the year” is coach of the year, not coach of October and November.
For as impressive as Odom has been of late, he was still responsible for Missouri’s miserable start, for its lack of defensive identity over the first half of the season, for the seeming lack of offseason improvement of a lot of key players (guys who have shown tons of improvement in recent weeks), for not firing Demontie Cross months earlier, and for the incredibly miserable, unprepared performance against Purdue in Week 3. That happened this year, so I can’t think of him as the SEC’s best coach of the year.
But that’s okay. He’s had an incredible couple of months, and it’s completely changed the trajectory of the program. Maybe he can win coach of the year next year.
One thing’s for sure: Odom’s got the requisite energy.
“It’s the energy he has,” senior defensive end Marcell Frazier said after the Tigers pounded Vanderbilt 45-17. “I saw the same energy he had as defensive coordinator (in 2015). My first year things started falling apart and he was the same guy. He was emotional and passionate and that fired me up. He’s been the same guy since I’ve been here.”
That same passion spilled over publicly on Sept. 23 during Odom’s impassioned speech following the loss to Auburn. It might have been Odom’s signature moment of the season, though he’s since tried to play down its significance, calling it “probably a little overrated” after Saturday’s game.
“The guys see that side of me all the time, so it wasn’t that unique for them.”
(Agreed about the speech. I haven’t written a lot about it because I don’t think it was any more important than what he did in practice the day after the speech, or the day after that, etc. It was full of symbolism but not a lot of practicality.)
However we got here, we’re here. This team has confidence and togetherness in droves, and it’s fun as hell to watch.
Want more proof of confidence?
Lock said that during Mizzou’s first offensive drive of its game against Vanderbilt, he slid after a run, and a Commodore defensive back told the junior from Lee’s Summit that he’d “be here all night.”
“I looked at him and told him, ‘It’s going to be a long night for you then,’” Lock said.
- Albert O: SEC freshman of the week. I see some freshman All-American honors in his near future as well.
- Mizzou Volleyball’s Alyssa Munlyn won SEC defensive player of the week honors. It is the 10th weekly conference honor of her career. (She’s only a junior, btw.)
- Not really sports, but ... new runway and new flight? Columbia Regional Airport is becoming more like a real airport every year, and I like it.