Barry Odom and Gary Pinkel are forever linked.
Pinkel is the most successful Mizzou football coach of this era. Therefore, every coach that comes after him will find himself attempting to live up to Pinkel’s standards.
This is where Odom finds himself right now, drowning in the overwhelming shadow left by Pinkel.
It’s not easy to live up to Pinkel’s standards. He found a way to do the impossible, building Mizzou into a nationally relevant program despite obvious disadvantages.
Odom is now expected to do the same.
Is it fair? Maybe not. But Odom knew what he was getting himself into when he took the job. He was given three years of reasonably low expectations. Higher expectations officially arrived this season.
Thus far, his team has fallen short.
The bye week is a good time for reflection. It’s a good time to take stock in where this team finds itself relative to where we thought it would be. It’s clear they haven’t lived up to our expectations.
But why is that?
One of the main reasons is becoming clear: Odom has failed to find his Chase Daniel.
Maybe that seems unfair. I get that. It’s not easy to find one of the most productive college football quarterbacks of the last 15 years. But if we’re going to hold Odom to Pinkel’s standards, we need to look back on how Pinkel reached his peak years.
Pinkel got things going in the right direction with Brad Smith the same way Odom got things back on track with Drew Lock.
The difference is in how they followed up those seasons.
Brad Smith’s senior year was in 2005. That just so happened to be Chase Daniel’s freshman year. When Smith left, Pinkel had his natural successor, a sophomore quarterback ready to take the country by storm.
The same wasn’t true for Odom.
When Lock left, there was no obvious replacement. Odom did as well as he could by bringing in Kelly Bryant, but this was always going to be a one-year stop gap.
Who is going to be the next answer at quarterback for Mizzou? We really don’t know the answer to that question.
And that’s where the fork in the road comes for Odom vs. Pinkel discussion.
Pinkel and Odom were both able to get their respective programs started with two of the more exciting quarterbacks in program history. But Pinkel took that start and built on it by recruiting one of the best quarterbacks in program history in Chase Daniel. Daniel was able to take the foundation that Brad Smith had built and turn it into something special.
That’s the missing link for Odom.
I’ll never criticize Odom for landing Kelly Bryant. Given the circumstances, it was Mizzou’s best option at the most important position on the field.
But where is the next answer at quarterback? Is it Taylor Powell? Is it TCU transfer Shawn Robinson? Maybe it’s Connor Bazelak? I’m not sure. You’re not sure. And that’s part of the problem.
Pinkel’s greatest strength as a head coach was always having an answer at quarterback. He seamlessly transitioned from Brad Smith to Chase Daniel to Blaine Gabbert to James Franklin to Maty Mauk and finally to Drew Lock.
Pinkel understood the importance of the position and always had an answer before he needed one.
Odom found a fill-in answer at quarterback for 2019. It hasn’t gone as planned, but it was the best-case scenario given the options.
He’s still missing his Chase Daniel.
At this point he might be happy to settle for a Blaine Gabbert.