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The stakes are high for Barry Odom & Mizzou against Florida


NCAA Football: Missouri at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t the way any of this was supposed to go.

Barry Odom was supposed to break through with a spike season. Kelly Bryant was supposed to become a Columbia hero after sticking through the postseason ban & leading Mizzou back to relevance. Cale Garrett was supposed to be the next in the line of Mizzou’s defensive stars.

That was supposed to be the story.

But it’s become something completely unrecognizable.

Mizzou’s last three weeks have already clinched a disappointing season. There’s no way of turning that around. These final three games are about preventing a disaster.

Saturday marks Odom’s final opportunity to save himself from some not-so-pleasant think pieces (such as this one).

The conversations about Barry Odom are about to become real, the implications significant. For me, those discussions will begin next week if the Tigers can’t pull off what would be a significant upset on Saturday against Florida.

As my esteemed colleague Sammy Stava recently wrote, this was supposed to be the year Odom broke through. If he couldn’t do it with this collection of talent, when will he?

It’s a fair point. And it’s a point that will be hammered home if this season continues in a downward trajectory.

Odom’s problem is his resume as a head coach isn’t particularly impressive. He turned the defense around this season, sure, but now the offense is failing to reach its expectations. Special teams have been a roller coaster each and every year. His game management has been uneven from the jump.

None of these are fireable offenses. And I’m still not entirely convinced they’ll be fireable offenses even with a collapse down the stretch.

But this is a results-oriented business. And, thus far, the results simply haven’t been there for Odom. A loss on Saturday will lock it in that Missouri will fail to meet expectations once again.

I’m not someone who expects Mizzou to reach double-digit wins every season. I believe this is a program that should live above .500. Most of those seasons should reach the 7-win barrier. Once every few years, there should be an 8-9 win season. And once every 5-7 years, there should be an opportunity to do something special with a double-digit win season.

This was supposed to be that year. The quarterback was in place. The defense was Odom’s. The coaching staff was hand-picked.

Everything was supposed to be in place.

And for six weeks, it looked like it was all coming together. Then the team left Columbia and everything went downhill. I can’t explain it. I won’t try.

It’s inexplicable.

The Tigers return to Columbia on Saturday where they have yet to lose a game. Odom needs a win to prevent serious - and legitimate - questions from being asked.

I’m not there yet. But we’re starting to get close.