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College Football Recap: Week 14 (Barry Odom Edition)

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You can argue whether Barry Odom was given a fair chance at Mizzou. What’s not debatable is the fact that it’s hard to see him go.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Missouri
No one will ever question Barry Odom’s love for the University of Missouri, but ultimately that loyalty was not enough to compensate for a lack of improvement on the field.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned

The Barry Odom Era Was Neither Good Nor Bad

I had high hopes for Barry Odom. Deep down, I think we all did.

He wasn’t the sexiest choice to replace his legendary predecessor, but that was OK. He was a Mizzou guy, and we took comfort in that.

He wanted to win so badly. That passion was evident, and because of it, he seemed like one of us.

I think Odom’s a fine coach, and I have no doubt he’ll succeed at wherever he lands from here.

That place just won’t be Missouri. And that’s a shame.

Odom didn’t exactly fail here. Let’s face it, the standards here are not — and perhaps shouldn’t be — as high as they are at other places. But he didn’t win much, either. It was just kind of meh.

A .500 record is what it is.

But here’s the obligatory question: How will Odom be remembered? I suppose just as much as any Missouri coach outside of Faurot, Devine, and Pinkel. Which is not saying much.

Or, maybe it’s saying a lot.

Under Odom’s watch the Tigers were really good at times. Others, it was hard to watch. And that’s ultimately how we got here.

For every road win over a top 10 opponent (Florida), there was a Wyoming. We had winning and losing streaks of at least five games. A corner to be turned would be in sight, but two steps back halted progress.

A ‘True Son,’ Odom’s devotion should never be questioned, and it’s entirely possible we haven’t seen the last of him. I, for one, would welcome him back with open arms, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

For now, though, we say goodbye. And do so much sooner than any of us would have preferred.

And that’s a shame.

What We’d Still Like to Know

Where Does Missouri Go From Here?

I don’t envy Jim Sterk. The ball’s in his court.

He wasn’t responsible for hiring Odom, but the onus is on him now to justify his firing.

Time will tell what Sterk has up his sleeve. There’s no way he fires Odom so quickly after the season without a plan in place.

But who is included in that plan? Surely, Sterk has confirmed interest from at least a few candidates.

Despite the challenges presented by the NCAA penalties, Sterk’s playing with house money.

He has virtually no track record in Columbia. He doesn’t have to fret about meeting overly high standards. A majority of the fanbase, whether they’d admit or not, would be happy with eight wins every season.

If I’m Sterk, I throw caution to the wind. Aim high and make people tell me no.

But what approach do you take?

NCAA Football: Auburn at Louisiana State
LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady (right) is sure to be atop many a school’s list of head coach candidates, but would he listen if Mizzou came calling?
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Settle for the safety of a trusted name like Luke Fickell at Cincinnati, who’s not too much of a reach? Or, do you take a flier on the next big thing? Gabe DeArmond at PowerMizzou.com suggested LSU assistant Joe Brady, whose hire would open a lot of eyes across the SEC.

And here’s the rub: Whomever you choose, you have to give the new coach a leash that’s at least as long as the one you gave Odom, if not longer; his predecessor will be taking over with a huge recruiting disadvantage.

No matter the direction that Sterk chooses, the hire must enhance Mizzou’s recruiting profile. Odom was unable to build upon the foundation constructed by Pinkel, and an overall lack of talent played a large role in his termination.

Without an upgrade in personnel, we may be having this same discussion every 4-5 years.

What We’d Like to Forget

The Way This Has Gone Down

The divorce of Mizzou and Odom wasn’t messy.

I’m sure there’s no ill will on either side. There was no scandal, no wrongdoing. Odom represented the university well.

But it still hurts.

When you want someone to succeed so badly and it doesn’t happen, it can be rough.

Odom was supposed to be the guy. He believed he was. We wanted to believe, too.

The passion was there. The results were not, and so we turn the page.

The coach that has Pinkel-like success at Mizzou – if there is ever one – likely won’t be nearly as committed to the school as Odom has been, and that’s OK. We’ll take the wins.

But that doesn’t make this split any less hard.