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Some final thoughts on DeMontie Cross’ firing

Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

In addition to the video Tramel took at yesterday’s media gathering, other Mizzou players spoke to media yesterday about defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross’ firing.

Terry Beckner Jr.:

“That was a big caught-off-guard (moment),” defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. added. “We really weren’t expecting that. We just hope everything goes well with this situation. It’s a tough one. … Nobody was looking forward to that happening, but sometimes things happen out of nowhere and you have to run with it.”

Logan Cheadle:

“I took the news not so great,” Cheadle said. “You obviously don’t want to see a man lose his job. That’s his livelihood. That’s how he supports his family. Coach Cross is a good guy. He really wanted us to be great. I hate to see him go.

“But it’s what’s best for the program right now, apparently. If coach Odom or whoever’s higher than coach Odom makes that decision, I fully believe in them, and I trust they know what’s best for our program.”

Terez Hall:

“Coach Odom’s been involved with the linebacker crew. He just got a little more into it, like a couple different drills or something like that he wanted to do. It ain’t really too much changed, it’s just he’s way more involved now. He’s just replacing Coach Cross in everything.”

The good news, as it were, is that this really probably isn’t that big a change for the players themselves, simply because they hear a lot of voices speaking to/yelling at them from day to day.

The defensive coordinator’s voice is probably the one they hear last each day in practice (aside from perhaps Odom’s), and obviously there’s going to be a little bit of a change for those playing the position Cross coached (inside linebackers), but between graduate assistants, analysts, Odom, and others, practice each day is run by a metric ton of individuals. It’s organized chaos.

Beyond that, though, it’s the players themselves that have the biggest impact on other players. As iffy as leadership has potentially been on the ever-changing staff roster, a large portion of leadership and influence comes from one’s peers, and Mizzou’s defense has struggled from that perspective, too. Some are trying to step up; we’ll see if they succeed.

The more I think about Cross’ firing, a) the more sense it makes to me, and b) the less sense it makes to me that it didn’t happen after the season. When Odom cites “philosophical differences,” it sounds very coach-speaky, but there’s simply no question that Missouri’s defensive identity, so much as one has existed at all, has waxed and waned over the first 14 games of the Odom era.

Plus, while some of Odom’s hires seemed to make sense from the perspective of philosophy or continuity, Cross was an outlier. Ryan Walters, for instance, is an Odom protege of sorts who came to Mizzou after working with Odom at Memphis. Chris Wilson, his original defensive line coach hire, was accustomed to the type of 3-4 that Odom ran at Memphis. Greg Brown was a well-regarded journeyman with ties to Walters.

Unless I’m forgetting something, Cross and Odom hadn’t worked with each other since they were both Mizzou athletes. He most recently came from Gary Patterson’s unique (and un-Odom-like) 4-2-5. We initially viewed this disparity as a potentially good thing (difference influences can be great, right?), but in retrospect, things never really clicked. I guess that’s something you never really know in the future tense — only in the past.

More Football Links:

  • Damarea Crockett’s butt is fine.
  • In case you missed it, Nate Strong has left the team. It’s disappointing considering the hope we once had of an East St. Louis pipeline (and considering he was a four-star signee, and Mizzou doesn’t get just a ton of those), but the writing was on the wall from the moment freshman Larry Rountree III passed him on the depth chart. (Actually, it was probably already on the wall from when he got suspended this spring.)
  • While drops were an issue in 2016, Odom was evidently caught off-guard by such issues on Saturday. “We hadn’t really had a day like that [in practice]. Not one day. For that to show up on Saturday was frustrating.”

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