Fewer than two months ago, after Auburn crushed Missouri 51-14 in Columbia, Barry Odom declared the MU football program a “turnaround” job, and he promised he was the right man to complete it.
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On Saturday, Odom had a chance to secure a $50,000 incentive bonus with a win. A Missouri victory over Vanderbilt would have pushed MU into one of the Southeastern Conference’s Pool of Six Bowls. Those are the Outback Bowl, the TaxSlayer Bowl, the Music City Bowl, the Liberty Bowl, the Belk Bowl and the Texas Bowl.
Odom’s eight assistant coaches — as well as director of football operations Mike McHugh and director of football recruiting A.J. Ofodile — would all receive 6-percent incentive bonuses for the team participating in a bowl that is not in the College Football Playoff rotation of games.
If Mizzou wins one of those bowl games outside of the playoff rotation, Odom will earn a $75,000 incentive bonus. His eight assistants, McHugh and Ofodile will all earn 8-percent incentive bonuses.
Three teams — Alabama (11-0), Auburn (9-2) and Georgia (10-1) — are still in contention for the SEC title. The conference champion will advance to one of the two College Football Playoff semifinal games, the Sugar and Rose bowls.
The other two should then have a chance to play in one of four “access bowls,” which are bowl games that are in the playoff rotation but are not semifinals this year. Those are the Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl.
Other than those three, these are the SEC teams that had won six games to earn an automatic bowl berth or still had a chance at doing so going into Saturday:
▪ Mississippi State (8-3)
▪ South Carolina (8-3)
▪ Kentucky (7-4)
▪ LSU (7-3)
▪ Texas A&M (6-4)
▪ Missouri (5-5) at Vanderbilt, at Arkansas
▪ Vanderbilt (4-6) vs. Missouri, at Tennessee
▪ Tennessee (4-7) vs. Vanderbilt
A Missouri win over Vanderbilt would have prevented the Commodores from crossing the six-win threshold to earn an automatic bowl berth. And Tennessee cannot reach six wins after losing 30-10 to LSU on Saturday.
After the College Football Playoff selects its teams and the access bowls participants are set, the Citrus Bowl gets the first pick of which of the remaining SEC teams it would want to participate in its game on New Year’s Day in Orlando, Fla. Then, the conference — in consultation with the programs and bowls — would match the SEC bowl-eligible teams with Pool of Six bowls.
Representatives for the TaxSlayer Bowl and Liberty Bowl were in attendance for MU’s game against Vanderbilt. Liberty Bowl representatives were in Columbia last weekend, when Missouri beat Tennessee. TaxSlayer Bowl representatives were in Columbia the weekend before that, when MU beat Florida.
Assume Alabama wins the SEC title. If neither Auburn nor Georgia receives a bid to an access bowl, then the SEC would send at least one team to one of the two bowls it has slots for outside of the Pool of Six: the Birmingham Bowl and the Independence Bowl.