I’ve seen variations on this question/talking point throughout Missouri’s 8-4 trip through the 2018 schedule: How much of this year’s success can be attributed to the players Barry Odom brought to the team and how much is attributed to Gary Pinkel recruits?
It’s usually brought up in tandem with concerns over how much possible dropoff Missouri can expect next year — when the roster will be basically all “Odom Guys” — and discussions over Odom’s value to the program. The latter discussion thread has been especially prevalent in the wake of Odom’s brief (perhaps agent-floated?) flirtation with Louisville that the coach brusquely shot down with a text, and with an extension and raise all but in the works and assured.
So how much of this year’s team is Odom’s? And how much is still Pinkel’s?
The short answer is it’s all Odom’s. He’s the head coach and the leader of the program, who sets the course that the players, coaches, graduate assistants, media relations professionals, etc., follow.
But the short answer is never the fun answer. And, contrary to what I said last week, I don’t kill all fun. Just most of it.
So how do we quantify “Odom Guys” versus “Pinkel Guys?” I’ve come up with three different ways, ranging from a measurement that will probably be favored by the Never Odomers to one that will probably be embraced by the Forever Odomers if either side is looking to bolster its argument.
Or if anybody from either side is even reading this...
Odom Guys -- players who committed to Missouri since the day after Odom became head coach (Dec. 4, 2015).
Optimist Outlook Odom Guys -- those players, plus the rest of the 2016 signees who committed under Gary Pinkel but signed under Odom. This adds Albert Okwuegbunam, Trystan Colon-Castillo, Tre Williams, DeMarkus Acy, Christian Holmes and Tucker McCann. They are denoted by * in the spreadsheet.
Mega Optimist Outlook Odom Guys -- all the Odom Guys and Optimist players, plus defensive players who committed to or joined the team after Odom came on as defensive coordinator (Dec. 23, 2014). This adds Franklin Agbasimere, Terry Beckner, Tyrell Jacobs, Terez Hall, Jacob Trump and Dominic Nelson. They are denoted by + in the spreadsheet.
Drew Lock, for example, can in no way faithfully be considered an Odom recruit. Terez Hall, for example, is up for debate, as he committed to Odom’s defense after Odom came on as coordinator, and Odom put in serious work on signing day eve to make sure that commitment stuck.
But, also, recruits are usually judged by the head coach they are committing to at the time. Usually. It’s a matter of philosophy.
Given these three definitions, let’s see how what percentage of this year’s team is made up of “Odom guys” in starts, snaps and total players who saw the field on offense, defense or kicked on special teams (sorry, long snappers...). Going contrary to what I usually do, I actually counted McCann and Corey Fatony as “starters” for this study, and estimated their snaps — kicks for McCann, punts and placekicks for Fatony, as he was McCann’s holder.
Odom Guys: 62.3
Optimist Odom Guys: 70.1
Mega Optimist Odom Guys: 77.9
Odom Guys: 36.5
Optimist Odom Guys: 56.6
Mega Optimist Odom Guys: 64.9
Odom Guys: 47.5
Optimist Odom Guys: 63.5
Mega Optimist Odom Guys: 70.2
So, depending on how generous you want to be to the Tigers’ current ballcoach, players he ushered into the program have been responsible for 37 to 65 percent of the team’s starts this year and 48 to 70 percent of the team’s snaps.
It’s a large variance, yes, but I think it’s also instructive in that now we at least have a somewhat normalized set of facts from which to make these arguments for or against in good faith. I’ve seen, for instance, some estimate that three-fourths of the team’s starters are “Odom Guys.”
Which is not true. In the least. As Odom cannot lay much claim (if any) in the recruitment of Lock, Johnathon Johnson, Emanuel Hall, Paul Adams, Kevin Pendleton, Brandon Lee, Cam Hilton or Fatony. That means 16 of 24 “starters,” or 67 percent, on this year’s team are “Odom Guys” in the most generous reading.
Per our previously laid-out definitions of “Odom Guys,” that is, as all players on the team are actually “Odom Guys” because he is their head coach and they, for the most part, all seem to genuinely enjoy playing and striving for him.
I don’t want this post to be misconstrued as some wrongheaded accounting of who is and is not loyal to the current regime. They’re all loyal. We’re not studying that. We’re studying how many of them came to the team under the auspices of the current head coach.
In that vein, let’s also check out the number of “contributors” to this year’s team that are “Odom Guys” versus “Pinkel Guys.” I’m defining a “contributor” as someone who participated in at least 10 percent of the team’s total snaps: so 93 snaps for the season for offensive players and 81 for defensive.
Odom Guys (26, 55.3%): Larry Rountree, Damarea Keener-Crockett, Tyler Badie, Jalen Knox, Kam Scott, Dominic Gicinto, Daniel Parker, Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, Yasir Durant, Case Cook, Hyrin White, Chris Turner, Akial Byers, Nate Anderson, Trajan Jeffcoat, Walter Palmore, Jordan Elliott, Kobie Whiteside, Rashad Brandon, Cale Garrett, Nick Bolton, Adam Sparks, Terry Petry, Khalil Oliver, Joshuah Bledsoe, Tyree Gillespie
Pinkel Guys (21): Drew Lock, Johnathon Johnson, Emanuel Hall, Nate Brown, Richaud Floyd, Albert Okwuegbunam, Kendall Blanton, Samson Bailey, Paul Adams, Trystan Colon-Castillo, Kevin Pendleton, Tre Williams, Terry Beckner, Terez Hall, Brandon Lee, Ronnell Perkins, DeMarkus Acy, Christian Holmes, Cam Hilton, Tucker McCann, Corey Fatony
If you add the six “Optimist” Odom Guys, that percentage goes up to 68.1. If you add in the “Mega Optimist” Guys, it’s 72.3.
Another argument we’ve seen in Odom’s favor is that the cupboard was more bare than we originally thought when he took over, and he’s had to complete this course correction with a disproportionate number of his players, players he brought into the program.
How do we measure whether that’s true or not? There is no perfect way, but I’ve come up with an imperfect one.
It has been 2,086 days since the first commit out of all the players who were contributors on this year’s team: Blanton, on March 13, 2013.
Odom has been head coach for 1,091 of those days, or 52.3 percent. So, by that measure, he has disproportionately had to rely on his players by a factor of 3 percentage points, or about 5.74 percent.
Under the Optimist definition, Odom has had control of this team from the time the first 2016 signee who contributed this year committed: Colon-Castillo, on April 20, 2015. So he’s been in control 1,319 days, or 63.2 percent of the time between the Blanton commitment and now. By that measure, he’s had to disproportionately rely on his players by a factor of 4.9 percentage points, or about 7.75 percent.
Under the Mega Optimist definition, Odom has had control of the defense or team for 1,437 days, or 68.9 percent of the time between the Blanton commitment and now. By that measure, he’s had to disproportionately rely on his players by a factor of 3.4 percentage points, or about 4.93 percent.
But that’s just one way of looking at it.
If we’re paring those three “program control” percentages — 52.3, 63.2 and 68.9 — with the start and snap counts from this year, then he’s actually disproportionately relying on Pinkel’s recruits, for the most part.
The bare-bones control percentage (52.3) pairs with 36.5 percent of starts and 47.5 percent of snaps, or a Pinkel over-reliance of 30.2 and 9.18 percent, respectively.
The Optimist one (63.2) pairs with 56.6 and 63.5, for a Pinkel over-reliance of 10.4 percent on starts and an under-reliance of 0.47 percent.
The Mega Optimist one (68.9) pairs with 64.9 and 70.2, for a Pinkel over-reliance of 5.81 percent on starts and under-reliance of 1.89 percent on snaps.
Now let’s look outside the program for a second. I find Will Muschamp and South Carolina a pretty good measuring stick for the whole Odom era.
They’re both defensive-minded coaches in the SEC East, taking over for legends and coming off a fairly depressing end to their predecessors’ runs. There’s also the fact that their overall and conference records since 2016 — 21-16, 12-12 SEC for Muschamp, 19-18, 10-14 for Odom — are pretty dang similar.
So let’s get a cursory glance at how much South Carolina had to rely on “Muschamp Guys” this season. I don’t have snap data, but I did use total players who started and total number of starts. And Muschamp only has one shade of grey to his measures — his version of the “Optimist” outlook — and none of those added guys started this year. So his regular and “Optimist” measures are the same, in other words.
Here’s what we got.
Players Who Started
Muschamp Guys: 62.5
Odom Guys: 41.7
Optimist Odom Guys: 58.3
Muschamp Guys: 63.3
Odom Guys: 36.5
Optimist Odom Guys: 56.6
Muschamp has had to make do with his guys more than Odom, so I’m not sure the “having to get by without much help from the predecessor” argument really holds up all that well. You could make it further down the line as far as depth, with some of Pinkel’s later signing classes being decimated by early departures, but not as far as actual guys playing actual snaps on the field. Not yet, at least.
And you could say that a sample size of one is not really a fair one to pit Odom against. That would be a very fair criticism of my method. Maybe Muschamp and Odom both are having to rely on their own players rather than holdovers at a disproportionately high rate.
But if we’re taking the Optimist perspective, Odom has controlled the levers of power when it comes to player personnel in the Missouri program for three years and seven months. That’s a fair amount of time to expect someone to field a team consisting of mostly one’s own players instead of his predecessor’s.
I don’t really know what the point of this post was. I often see my role as the nag who says “yeah, but...” to both sides of every argument involving Missouri football.
I hope, at least, this was some food for thought.
Here is my work: