Winning sure does bring out the bandwagoners and assorted hangers-on, don't it? It's been quite awhile since the spirit has moved me to do one of these but it's nice to see our beloved Tigers looking like a so-called Power Five team with a real live professional coaching staff engaged in coaching rather than (allegedly) fighting the players.
The coverage of the Florida game here at RMN and throughout the Mizzou online universe has been quite good. So I will try not to be too repetitive.
1. Big Ups to J'Mon Moore - I've been as harsh in my criticism of Moore as any college player I can recall (certainly since Reggie Ball, whose game I really, really hated--kinda like the way older people hate Jeff George), and not without some justification. That play at the end of the Purdue game, when the DB ripped a meaningless TD out of his hands, was the worst. So I'm as happy as anyone to see his season have a bunch of big catches at big moments, with opportunities for more. The best part of his ongoing maturation is that his rep is that of a diligent worker who doesn't always see it pay off on gameday. He has clearly benefited from Hall's emergence pulling some defensive attention away from him, but that's just context he didn't create. What he's done is take advantage of it. And seriously, good for him. If professional college sports has ANY redeeming feature it's that sometimes you get to be there in the audience when the light comes on for a young person after they've struggled and struggled (mostly with themselves). Few things are more legitimately humanity-affirming.
2. Odom has done enough to stay - I think Kirby Smart said it best: people don't stop them they stop themselves. That might be Spurrier-quality damning with faint praise but the in-game performances starting with Kentucky should intrigue any honest fan enough to say, "If he can get these kids to cut the mistakes in half they might have a bowl run in them." If your inclination is to ignore the three recent wins based on opponent quality I'd argue that's not the kind of shortsightedness Missouri can afford. Weak opponents are a bigger part of college sports than dominant ones. Reasonable people can disagree over the proper way to discount a weak schedule. But they should also be able to agree that the proper discount rate is not 1. You cannot outright ignore a three game winning streak with substantial stretches of dominant play over five games because the wins came against bad teams. That's just intellectually dishonest.
I look for three things to signal "stick it out" with an early tenure coach: (1) accountability, (2) breakdowns, and (3) talent usage. I'd argue the jury is very much out on Odom's penchant for taking accountability, which is necessary to learn from your inevitable mistakes. I've heard more of a penchant for excuse-making. That's not necessarily a fatal flaw. Nor is it a surprise coming from a young coach with very little equity. So lets just call that one to grow on. In terms of breakdowns, it's undeniable that we have seen a lot fewer mistakes recently. Florida was the best game of the year. A few plays aside, players were just in the right place at the right time. You cannot overstate how big that is. In terms of talent usage, this is near impossible to assess from outside. So much is in flux. Yet we have seen numerous examples of changes--both personnel and scheme changes--that have put players in better positions to succeed. Consider Hall's emergence, putting Floyd on punt returns and Rountree on kickoffs (and asking less of Johnson), Prewitt's move to full-time safety and Sherrill's recent solid play, the TE passing game, and quietly, Acy's gotten much better.
None of this means Odom makes the leap to being a coach that can threaten for division titles when the moons align (which is really all you can expect outside the royalty programs). It means we definitely don't know he won't. The Smart Money(TM) says ride it out and see.
Get the latest Missouri Tigers news with Rock M Nation