After just four seasons, Barry Odom is out as the head football coach of the Missouri Tigers. PowerMizzou reported the news Saturday morning.
“As a program, we had tremendous momentum coming into the 2019 season with the opening of the new south end zone facility as well as other strategic investments in our football program,” athletic director Jim Sterk said in a statement released by the school. “However, we lost a great deal of that energy during the last half of the season. This decision was difficult to make but was necessary.”
Taking over for Gary Pinkel after he stepped down following the 2015 season, Odom struggled through the first year and a half of his tenure. From his first game against West Virginia on Sept. 3, 2016, through an Oct. 14, 2017 loss to Georgia, Odom’s record as head coach sat at just 5-13.
But Odom began to gain steam as a coach over the next season and a half, winning the next six regular season games of the 2017 season before losing to Texas in the Texas Bowl and then posting an 8-5 record in 2018.
Odom’s records improved every year, and 2019 was supposed to be the year it all paid off.
Kelly Bryant, a high-profile transfer quarterback from Clemson, decided to finish his college career at Missouri after Drew Lock moved on to the NFL. The Tigers’ schedule was seen as one of the easiest in the Southeastern Conference, as it included four very winnable non-conference games, Ole Miss and Arkansas (two of the worst teams in the SEC West) as their crossover opponents and Georgia and Florida as their only ranked opponents. This was going to be the year Missouri put it all together and made a run at the SEC East title.
A loss in the season-opener at Wyoming was an early gut-punch, but the Tigers bounced back to win each game of their ensuing five-game home stand. Missouri finished the first half of the season ranked in the AP Top 25 and in first in the division.
But the next five weeks were a disaster, as the Tigers lost to Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.
Regardless of what happened Friday against Arkansas, it seemed that the writing was on the wall: Odom was firmly on the hot seat, and the athletic department was looking to make a change.
Though wins against the Bulldogs and the Gators seemed like long-shots, Odom still failed to produce wins against conference opponents Missouri shouldn’t have struggled with. Odom failed to get the Tigers ready to rebound throughout the losing streak, and each week, the “fire Odom” mob grew wider and louder.
Odom wanted to be “the guy.” His players wanted him to be “the guy.” But ultimately, Sterk and the rest of the athletic department decided he wasn’t.
“I want to thank Coach Odom for his contributions to our program,” Sterk said. “He and his staff have worked diligently during the past four years.
“Coach Odom has represented our program with integrity and dedicated himself to developing our student-athletes on and off the football field for which we are grateful. We wish the very best for him and his family in their future endeavors.”