This season has been a unique emotional roller coaster for college football programs and fans around the nation. Moving week-to week feels both nerve-rending and exciting, with anticipation for a game that may not even happen.
Mizzou has had its fair share of ups and downs, yet nothing will be more significant for a large portion of the roster than Saturday’s match up. That’s when they’ll get to square off against the man who brought them to Mizzou in the first place — Barry Odom.
When considering how this could affect the game, it’s important to remember that Coach Odom did not make the decision to leave Mizzou. For players who had the pleasure of playing under him, as well as the few coaches left behind, they certainly want to win, but they also don’t have any animosity for their former colleague. It’s widely known that Coach Odom was adored by his staff and players. At the end of the day, Coach Odom’s time at Missouri was a growth process, and he struggled with consistency. For current players and coaches that know him to this day, it should serve as a pleasant reunion — but it’s still rivalry week all the same. Rest assured, Coach Odom won’t be taking it easy on his former school and alma mater. The distraction may be present, but the plan remains the same.
Say what you must about Coach Odom’s coaching and record at Mizzou, but he did make some strides in his recruiting, bringing in many of the big names that Coach Drinkwitz and his staff inherited. It’s a similar team with a different general. Under Coach Drinkwitz, we’ve watched Coach Odom’s young guys continue to grow, and on Saturday, we’ll get to watch them face the man that, “raised,” them.
While it will certainly be great for some Tigers to see that familiar face, both sides are mature enough to understand what’s at stake. These are two teams looking to make a statement on who they are and who they plan on becoming. This rivalry is now much more personal and should be treated as such. The focus is and always should be, “Do your job.” If the Tigers can do this, they’ll send their seniors out the right way.
As for Coach Odom, he returns home to destroy a little bit of what he helped build. In the interest of competitive football, that’s what will make this game more fun.