There’s a tweet I think about a lot when it comes to being a sports fan. The tweet itself has nothing to do with sports and would only ever be tangentially related, but it’s still funny to think about as a sports fan who’s always trying to keep a level head.
At the risk of getting divisive — the tweet is very political in nature — it won’t be linked here, though you could likely find it without much effort. In essence, the premise involves a lot of people standing around holding hands, chanting, “Better things aren’t possible!”
Trying to maintain a somewhat reasonable head as a sports fan can often feel like this. When you feel dogged passion about something, you want to chase the best possible outcome at any cost, no matter how unlikely or absurd things may get. But there also comes a point when, be it cynicism or fatigue, you come to accept the status quo. Things are the way they are and they will be what they will be until the seas rise and the sun explodes.
It’s especially starting to feel this way when it comes to the conversation around Barry Odom. Now 19-20 in his young head coaching career, the Missouri alum is as divisive as ever. Some people (this writer included) have admitted Odom’s obvious faults as a coach, but point to his clear strengths as a motivator and culture builder (along with some burgeoning skills as a recruiter) as reason to have hope that he can have sustained success at Missouri. Others (fairly) point to his seeming inability to motivate his teams until everyone’s ass is on the line, coupled with the continued struggles with team defense — a development no one could have seen coming back in 2015 — as reason to think that Odom won’t ever get any better than he is now.
The discourse reached Chernobyl levels of toxic after Saturday’s dumpster fire in Laramie. Before the half, people were calling for Odom’s head. They were saying that he should have been fired after year two! Message boards were melting down faster than glaciers! Chaos reigned in Tiger fandom, all at the seemingly unconscious whims of the former Tiger linebacker.
We’re now two full days separated from the disastrous loss in Wyoming, and now that the dust has somewhat settled, it’s time to ask ourselves... did screaming about Odom make us feel any better?
That isn’t meant to be a criticism of those who are critical. As a defender, even I cannot fault those who found reason to be infuriated by Saturday’s result. The team did look unprepared and overwhelmed. The play calling was suspect on both ends of the ball. And, once again, the defense was steamrolled by a quarterback who you will now never forget. Seriously, we’ll all remember the name Sean Chambers — who will no doubt go on to have a lucrative career as the CEO of a mid-level marketing firm — until the day we shuffle off this mortal coil.
But be honest with yourself. Do you really feel better now that you’ve had a chance to say what you really feel about Barry Odom? Did your angry tweets or high-pitched conversations help you digest the horrors of Saturday? If they did, great! No need to read further. You can justifiably leave this site and think of this writer as that idiot who doesn’t get you.
However, it’s probably fair to say that no matter what you felt about Barry Odom coming out of Saturday, it didn’t help you feel better about the direction of the program going forward. Because realistically, we all know that nothing we say or do can change the mind of Jim Sterk. You may think that your voice amongst the mob will reach him in his luxury suite, convincing him to reach down with his mighty hand and banish Odom to the coordinator wasteland once more. But if you think about it, you’ll realize it’s not happening.
It’s hard to end this because there’s not really an end in sight, at least not one that we can see or predict. Those of you who still believe in Barry will move on from Saturday convinced Missouri is still trending up. Those of you who never did will remain convinced of Missouri’s downward spiral until Odom proves himself the way Gary Pinkel did (though even that wasn’t enough for some).
That’s a drab way to walk away from week one, with no clear answers about the future and no clear-cut strategy on how to move on from the disappointment it left.
There is one thing you can know for sure, though. Screaming about a coach you have no power to control — regardless of whether you like him or not — isn’t going make you feel any better about what happened or what will happen in the coming months.