Missouri played a game on Black Friday that couldn’t have meant any less than it did. Arkansas came into the game at 2-9. Missouri game into the game at 5-6 with its bowl ban upheld earlier in the week.
There was nothing on the line. Arkansas’ roster was riddled with players dealing with the mumps. Missouri’s roster was decimated by injury with more going down throughout the game.
Two teams playing for nothing with backups galore scattered across the field.
What a rivalry game!
Regardless, the game was played, Missouri won, and Barry Odom’s future now comes into focus. My top five takeaways from Missouri’s 24-14 win over Arkansas.
Arkansas is terrible
You won’t see many worse power five teams than what we watched today. Arkansas can’t pass. It can’t defend. The Razorbacks are okay at running. The last time Arkansas won a conference game was October 28, 2017. They do nothing well and were ready for the season to come to an end.
You’ve gotta feel for Connor Bazelak.
Bazelak finally got an opportunity to show he can be the quarterback of the future. And he looked pretty good! He started out completing 7 of 9 pass attempts for 80 passing yards. When he had time, he looked pretty good.
And then his day abruptly came to an end when he stepped the wrong way and - according to the team - sprained his knee.
I don’t know if Bazelak is the answer moving forward. But he at least showed signs of promise as a true freshman thrown into a game at the end of the season. That’s really all you can ask for.
Kudos to Taylor Powell and Barrett Banister for stepping up.
The Fayetteville High School teammates came to Missouri together and connected Friday to help Missouri beat Arkansas. It wasn’t a pretty game and it ultimately amounts to very little. But don’t tell that to two kids who grew up in Fayetteville, who were not offered scholarships to play for Arkansas, and beat their hometown team. That’s a pretty cool way for them to end the season, regardless of how they got there.
It’s also worth noting that Banister has emerged as the most consistent receiver in recent weeks. He has 17 receptions for 157 yards in Mizzou’s last four games. That’s pretty darn impressive for the former walk-on.
It was disappointing to see this senior class go out like that.
Demarkus Acy, Kelly Bryant, Johnathon Johnson & Cale Garrett didn’t play due to injury. The rest of this senior class finished its season on Friday despite getting to the six wins necessary to reach a bowl due to the NCAA upholding the Tigers’ bowl ban. It’s a disappointing end for a senior class that included so many potential game-changing players.
Richaud Floyd was a great punt returner. Yasir Durant and Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms were two of the better Mizzou offensive linemen in recent years. Ronnell Perkins made some unbelievably big players in his time at Missouri. The aforementioned Acy, Bryant, Johnson and Garrett were hugely important pieces to what Odom tried to build.
It didn’t work out. But those seniors should be commended for what they brought to the program, the community and the team.
Alright, on to the part you all wanted to read: what this means for Odom.
I think the correct answer should be nothing. If Jim Sterk is the athletic director I believe him to be, he should have known prior to Friday’s game against Arkansas if he believes in Barry Odom as a quality SEC football coach.
If he does, he should retain Odom. If he doesn’t, he should let Odom go.
It’s really that simple. Or, at least, it should be.
College athletics aren’t always that simple, though. There are politics to play, people to please and a fanbase that craves an answer.
The stands aren’t getting any more full. The schedule isn’t getting any easier. There doesn’t appear to be a significant light at the end of the tunnel right now.
Who are the answers next year at receiver? What’s the plan at quarterback? Is this defense going to improve without Acy, Garrett and (possibly) Jordan Elliott?
It’s hard to make those arguments in favor of Odom right now. I don’t know what the future holds at Missouri.
A decision is on the horizon. Mizzou didn’t live up to expectations. Odom is four years into his tenure at Mizzou. It’s no longer early. He’s had a full recruiting cycle. Yet, the same issues appear to be present today that existed in year one.
Will Sterk make the move? I’m not sure. Should he? The answer sure seems to be pointing toward yes.
I don’t take any pleasure in writing that. I liked the Odom hire at the time. I thought he was a qualified candidate that made sense for the job at the time. It hasn’t gone as expected.He’s 24-25 in four full seasons as the coach at Missouri.
Is that good enough? I don’t think it is for me.
We’ll find out soon if it’s enough for Jim Sterk.