If you’ve been hunting for the answer to the question of whether or not Barry Odom is the answer at head coach for the University of Missouri (and haven’t already made up your mind one way or the other) the last two weeks haven’t provided clarity. Fans like clarity because it’s far easier to deal with.
Clear is obvious and easy to see. Clear is you’re good or you’re bad. The Path is the right one or the wrong one. Missouri is either a bad team or a good one. The problem is college sports, or even more specifically college football, are rarely if ever clear. Missouri is now 5-4, but yesterday they went into the Swamp and torched the #13 ranked Florida Gators.
How did a team turn the disastrous finish against Kentucky into a thorough ass-whipping in one of the toughest college football venues versus a top 15 opponent? The only answer I can come up with is: Culture.
Culture is hard to define but it is definitive for a football program. Culture is something players attach themselves to in good times and in tough times, and it’s clear the culture Barry Odom has worked to build over the last few years might be settling in because it’s the only thing which helps a program turn the page on what many had deemed a soul-crushing loss.
Missouri was as calm and calculated as it’s been in the last half-decade. This was a 2013 throw-back game. This was an offense, playing within itself and its game plan, using short passes and the run game to keep Florida guessing before hitting Todd Grantham’s blitz-heavy defense with haymakers in the second half.
Missouri in 2013 was really the Tigers last great team. They followed up the 2014 with another trip to the SEC Championship game but let’s not kid ourselves that the Tigers that year were anywhere close to a complete team. They took advantage of a flawed SEC East and rode an elite defense to several wins.
Since 2014 it’s been a steady road back and the road hasn’t been fast enough for many Tiger fans and to a degree I get it. But if you can’t see a difference between the way this team has played this year, even when they’ve been disappointing, and the last two seasons, well I’m not sure what to say.
Hopefully the culture Barry Odom is building can help you find some clarity on the future
This isn’t to say I think Barry Odom is the answer. To be honest I’m still not sure. But the full slate of evidence we have before us must be taken into account. The program wasn’t in great shape when he took over. He started off by making some bad coaching hires. He has since, along with the program, solidified his hires and it’s reflected in a more consistent product. The Tigers aren’t great, and they’ve been a flawed football team all season and still are. But they’ve got one of the nations toughest schedule and now have the marquee win they needed.
From here the schedule opens up, if only a bit. There are still some tough games ahead, but none the Tigers shouldn’t be favored to win.
Ok, some game stories:
I know what many of those who have made up their mind will say. If Barry was better he’d have the Tigers at 7-2 instead of 5-4, right? Maybe that’s true. But sometimes you have to enjoy the ride. Yesterday was a lot of fun. And this season still has a whole lot of room for fun left.
I guess all this makes me an apologist, which is fine if that’s what I need to be called. But I feel like I’ve seen the program improve under Barry Odom, and this feels like a corner. Missouri had to get over the hump, Florida was merely the hump in the way this week. Next week it’s Vanderbilt.
Drew Lock on the return of Emanuel Hall: “When you’re growing up you have your blankie, I was sleeping and I was freezing for like four weeks but the little blankie came back and made some plays for us.”— Alex Schiffer (@TheSchiffMan) November 4, 2018
Florida's punter is the REALEST punter out there— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) November 3, 2018
Florida's "I Won't Back Down" > Bama's "Dixieland Delight"— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) November 3, 2018
Yeah, I said it.
Mammoth day for #Mizzou football. Can’t know what it takes to beat the big dogs until you do it. Now Odom and his Tigers know. This team should win out.— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) November 4, 2018
- Mizzou women's volleyball dropped a game to South Carolina on Friday dropping their overall record to 20-5, and 10-3 in the SEC.
The SEC had a day, even if it was pretty quiet:
- Alabama 29, LSU 0
- Georgia 34, Kentucky 17
- South Carolina 48, Ole Miss 44
- Auburn 28, Texas A&M 24
- Tennessee 14, UNC Charlotte 3