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Breaking Down Barry

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Being quarantined sucks so let’s take our minds off of it....by looking at Barry Odom’s coaching career at Mizzou?

Missouri v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Whether it’s the cabin fever or curiosity, I was wondering the other day (it was a Thursday) about Barry Odom’s situational record. You know...overall record, conference record, division, rivals (the rivals who aren’t afraid to play us, anyway)...just to see how he did in his four years in charge. There’s really nothing else to do, so why not? So my curiosity is now your reading material.

2016 season
Breakout records

Man...if you ever forgot how bad the 2016 season was, here’s your friendly reminder. The forced youth-movement of 2015 wasn’t great either, but that team went 5-7, ranked 65th in SP+, had the 123rd ranked offense and 3rd ranked defense and was super close to making a bowl game anyway. Odom took over and then....splat. You could argue that they were in a position to beat Georgia and Middle Tennessee, but 1.) they didn’t and 2.) this was just a terrible team, even if they did win. In fact, in 15-year existence of SP+, the 2016 team is the worst ranked team, a full point worse than the national average as far as expected performance points go. So, congrats on the achievement, Barry!

The problem in 2016 was multi-faceted:

  • The recruiting classes of ‘13/’14/’15 never fully delivered, and part of that is the Pinkel staff moving away from Texas and into Florida. The diamonds in the rough from the Sunshine State never gleamed like their Lone Star brethren, with 11 guys from the 21-man ‘13 class leaving the program, 13 such defections from 28-man ‘14 class, and 10 from the 25-man ‘15 class. That’s 34 of 74 not sticking around for four years...and yes, that’s bad.
  • Coaching regime change. Yes, Odom was an internal hire. But he never got along with Craig Kuligowski and sent our one-man defensive machine packing. He removed Dr. Pat Ivey as the strength and conditioning coach, something I believe still hurts the program to this day. And while Josh Heupel and his offensive staff were able to make something with the raw pieces on his end, the hires Odom made on the defensive side didn’t work out, forcing more hires even in that first year.
  • Philosophy change. The offense went to a warp-speed air-raid-ish offense and the defense went to a read-and-react 3-4 hybrid. The offense succeeded because of Drew Lock; the defense did not, and they had to move back to a 4-3 style in the middle of the year.

So yeah, 2016 was a mess! Let’s keep going.

2017 season
Breakout records

2015 was disappointing. 2016 was embarrassing. The first six weeks of 2017 were hardly any better. In fact, the only time I really wanted Barry Odom fired was after the pantsing of the Tigers done by Jeff Brohm’s Purdue Boilermakers. But by the end of the year, despite a five-game losing streak, Mizzou was the proud owner of a 6-game winning streak and in a bowl game against former Big XII bully Texas. The winning streak came to an end, sure, but the Tigers improved from 70th to 28th in SP+ with an offense that improve 30 spots and a defense that improved 24 spots. Mizzou didn’t beat a ranked team or even a team with a winning record, but everything was looking positive with a young cast of dynamic play makers lead by a Heisman-candidate quarterback.

2018 season
Breakout records

The third best all-time SP+ Missouri squad won 8 games. Yes, 2008 was #1, 2007 was #2, and 2018 was #3. Except the first two teams won their division and double-digit games. 2018 should have been so much more, but a weather-delayed breakdown against South Carolina and an uncalled offensive pass interference against Kentucky robbed the Tigers of two more wins. The 2018 schedule was absolutely brutal, facing six teams ranked the SP+ Top 25. But they did sweep the six teams ranked worse the 25th and even upset a Top 10 Florida in the Swamp. This was the season that, despite more being on the plate, proved to almost everyone that Odom was the man for this program and the Tigers headed in the right direction. Man, those were great days, huh?

2019 season
Breakout records

Yeah, I think we all remember this season. The Tigers came in with all the apparent talent and good vibes a team could possibly have, plus a super navigable schedule featuring only two-teams ranked the SP+ Top 25 and a whopping six teams ranked 51st or worse. Despite all of this, Odom yet again went an entire season without beating a team with a winning record, once again had a 5-game losing streak, and - as an extra turd in the punch bowl - decided to lose to two teams ranked 51st or worse. These Tigers certainly didn’t meet lofty expectations with the easiest schedule in the SEC, and while that’s not fireable offense after the progress Odom had made, it’s not enough to keep your job when you butt heads with a boss who didn’t hire you.

So there’s your season recap. Let’s dive into the numbers a little more:

Overall Record: 25-25 (.500)

Isn’t that the most perfect Barry Odom record? 25 wins actually ranks 8th in school history. He’s eight wins below Larry Smith (1994-2000) and nine wins above Henry Schulte (1914-1917). His win percentage ranks 6th in school history, slightly below Gwinn Henry’s 51.94% (1923-1931) and slightly above Al Onofrio’s 48.10% (1971-1977).

Conference Record: 13-19 (.406)

For context, lets look at the five gentlemen who preceded Odom and their conference records:

  • Warren Powers (1978-1984): 24-22-3 (.490)
  • Woody Widenhofer (1985-1988): 8-20 (.286)
  • Bob Stull (1989-1993): 8-27 (.229)
  • Larry Smith (1994-2000): 19-25 (.432)
  • Gary Pinkel (2001-2015): 64-57 (.529)

Out of this six-man sample, Odom ranks fourth. There aren’t a whole lot of conference championship-level coaches at Missouri, but of those who did it in the Big 8/12/SEC — Pinkel (.529), Devine (.685), Faurot (.589) — they had overall winning conference records. Odom did not. Again, that’s not enough to get you fired, especially in just four years, but it’s not great.

Division Record: 8-16 (.333)

For my money, this is a big reason why Odom was viewed negatively. Even in a division with Georgia and Florida, you have to win more than 33% of your division games. Odom never beat Georgia. He also never beat Kentucky. He was 2-2 against Tennessee and Florida, 1-3 against South Carolina, and even decided to lose to the worst Vanderbilt team of the decade. Wins over Georgia and Florida are luxuries; games against peer programs Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina should be at least 50% winning percentage, not a combined 3-9. And Missouri should never, ever lose to Vanderbilt, a school that so obviously cares very little about the sport of football. Not being able to consistently win games against teams with equal resources and talent is probably the main thing that doomed the Odom regime.

Home Record: 18-10 (.643)

Four years, 28 home games, 18 wins. A 64% winning percentage sounds good to me, but losing at home always sucks, no matter the opponent. Here’s who beat Odom at Faurot Field:

  • Georgia twice
  • Middle Tennessee
  • Kentucky twice
  • South Carolina
  • Purdue
  • Auburn
  • Florida
  • Tennessee

For comparison, Gary Pinkel went 66-28 (.702) at home overall, 17-10 (.630) at home in the SEC. Interesting that the SEC home records between Odom and Pinkel are nearly identical.

Road Record: 7-13 (.350)

Four years, 20 road games, 7 wins. Teams tend to play better at home than on the road, but this is a pretty stark difference. Once again, here are the teams that humbled the road Tigers:

  • West Virginia
  • LSU
  • Florida
  • South Carolina twice
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky twice
  • Georgia twice
  • Alabama
  • Wyoming
  • Vanderbilt

Again comparing to Pinkel, ol’ GP went 34-35 (.493) on the road overall, 13-6 (.684) on the road in the SEC. We’ll file that under “noticeable difference”.

Record Against Ranked Teams: 1-9 (.100)

Finding out your team doesn’t play as well against ranked teams than against non-ranked teams is not exactly breaking news, I get that. But an SEC schedule tends to have at least two ranked teams on it, and a head coach certainly needs to beat a few, especially if they are ranked in the 20s. Here are the ranked teams that felled the Odom Tigers:

  • #16 Georgia (2016)
  • #18 Florida (2016)
  • #15 Auburn (2017)
  • #4 Georgia (2017)
  • #2 Georgia (2018)
  • #1 Alabama (2018)
  • #12 Kentucky (2018)
  • #6 Georgia (2019)
  • #11 Florida (2019)

67% of losses to ranked teams are from Georgia and Florida, and as mentioned previously, those are luxury wins. But guess what? You have to play those teams every year; it’s a good idea to figure out how to beat them more than once in ten tries.

Record Against Teams with Winning Records: 4-26 (.133)

If the conference record is Exhibit A on why Odom is not viewed favorably, his dismal record against teams with winning records is Exhibit B. Again, your team doesn’t play as well against really good teams, but a winning record doesn’t necessarily mean that a certain team is better than yours. And Odom only beat four teams that ended up at 7 wins or better. Those wins are:

  • Eastern Michigan (2016): 7-6
  • Arkansas (2016): 7-6
  • Memphis (2018): 8-6
  • #7 Florida (2018): 10-3

That’s it! Two G5 schools, the one good Arkansas team of the past five years, and a random beat down of Florida. If an Odom team had an athletic advantage over a team, they could win the game. If they didn’t, they had a 13% chance of winning. And that’s Barry Odom’s tenure in a nutshell.

Record Against Power 5 Opponents: 15-23 (.395)

More of the same. A losing record against programs from peer conferences. Other than the SEC competition, West Virginia and Purdue got to claim a Missouri scalp in P5 on P5 non-conference action.

Record Against Group of 5 Opponents: 6-2 (.750)

The best performance Odom ever had against a single group were the G5. But, of course, Middle Tennessee and Wyoming are waving hello.

Record Against Teams Group by Final SP+ Rank

1-10: 1-7

11-25: 0-5

26-50: 7-7

51-75: 7-3

76-100: 3-2

100+: 3-1

I’m really just beating a dead horse at this point, but it’s a nice visual to hit home. No chance in hell against Top 25 competition (.071), dead even against peer programs (.500), flexing on teams ranked worse with a few hiccups thrown in (Vanderbilt 2019, uggggggghhhhhhh).

Conclusion

Do I think Barry Odom should have been fired? Based purely off of the four year record, no, I do not. Based on expectations and the alleged off-field spat with Jim Sterk, I certainly understand doing so. But he was a first-time head coach at the college level and learning how to be the head guy in the toughest conference in the country. I would have given him at least 2020 to see what happened, possibly 2021. There were some obvious flaws (staff hiring, player development) that I would want to see improved, just like what Gary Pinkel had to go through. But he’s gone, he’s not coming back, and I’m excited for the Drinkwitz era to begin...whenever it will begin....