Everyone loves a good narrative. You don’t need to tell me: I work for a local TV news station, spending most of my day scrolling through clickbait headlines on major television networks and print-digital publications.
And regardless of what you may think, a large portion of media consumers don’t want real analysis. They want takes, opinions so hot, they’ll singe your eyebrows. People want takes they can argue about, takes that confirm their biases.
But perhaps most understandably, people want takes that make them feel better. If something makes you miserable, it’s a lot easier to cling to an idea that comforts you, or at least promises you some relief.
Sorry, I buried the lede here. What I’m trying to get at is I understand why we’ve been seeing some molten takes rolling out of St. Louis this week regarding the state of Missouri football, namely Barry Odom’s future with the program.
It’s easy to see why someone would have a negative opinion. Missouri football is an absolute mess right now. A Top 10 defense has crumbled and is now crippled with the losses of Michael Scherer and Terry Beckner, Jr. An offense with a wealth of young playmakers flashed a lot of early promise, and has since shown it still has a lot of growing up to do. And while last year was about as bad as a 5-7 season could be, everyone knows this program is just two years removed from being a back-to-back SEC East champion.
It shouldn’t have gone this bad, this quick, campus turmoil and bad luck aside.
But come on.
We’re only a few months removed from the Barry Odom hire being widely praised by pundits, alumni, and former Missouri coaches. He was a hot name on the coaching market and surely would have been scooped up by
Memphis someone if Missouri hadn’t hired him.
Yes, he’s a first time head coach, and his choices at offensive and defensive coordinator have been scrutinized over this first season (particularly the latter). And yes, new AD Jim Sterk can use the excuse of, “He’s not my guy.” (Of course, Sterk made a similar move at San Diego State in 2010, promoting defensive coordinator Rocky Long.)
But what’s the historical precedent for a firing of this sort? The shortest head coaching tenure in the past 30 years at Missouri was Woody Widenhofer, who lasted four years before getting the ax. You could argue that getting results matters now more than ever, but I’d be willing to bet Sterk would rather have some stability for at least a few years.
Barry Odom is a #TrueSon, and was a pretty popular hire as the DC and HC. He and Sterk seem to see eye-to-eye on the south end zone expansion, which is a big priority if the latest donation numbers are any indication.
And as much as I can understand these types of feelings, I’m not exactly sure from where they’re coming. Maybe I’m not inundated enough with Mizzou Twitter, but the general feeling I’m getting from the fan base is, “Why, god, why?” or “Fire Demontie Cross!!!!” I’ve yet to see more than an outlying “Fire Barry Odom” take anywhere, and this is certainly the first time I’ve seen anything of the sort in editorial form.
I recognize I’m probably preaching to the choir, and maybe these types of hot takey articles don’t deserve recognition because of how unprecedented they are at this point.
I also recognize the article in question wasn’t a call to replace the head coach, even though that last line is about as subtle as a kick in the teeth. But if you’re really looking for hot takes to dish, you can do better than going after a coach who, by all indications, is still popular and whose seat is still very cool.