Barry Odom’s dream job was no longer a dream as of 8 p.m. Thursday.
That’s roughly when Missouri announced that Odom, 39, would succeed Gary Pinkel as the 32nd football coach in program history, a decision that was greeted with raucous approval from the Tigers’ players.
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“We are extremely excited to announce Barry Odom as the new leader of the Mizzou football program,” first-year MU athletic director Mack Rhoades said in a news release announcing the hire. “We had the opportunity to visit with a number of excellent coaches throughout our search.
“At the conclusion of that process, Coach Odom was the clear choice to serve as our next coach. He is a man of high integrity and possesses all the qualities you look for in a successful head coach. He has an undeniable passion for Mizzou, a strong track record of success at each level of his career and a clear vision to mentor our student-athletes and lead our program to even greater heights.”
Missouri, which finished 5-7 and announced earlier in the week it would not request an NCAA waiver to play in a bowl game, has agreed in principle to a five-year deal with Odom.
The terms will be released after they are approved during a regularly scheduled University of Missouri System Board of Curators’ meeting Dec. 11-12 at Missouri-St. Louis.
“I’m tremendously honored to have this opportunity,” Odom said in a statement. “It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time as I’ve made my various stops leading up to this point. I understand the responsibility we have to not only carry on the tradition of excellence that Gary Pinkel has built here, but also to help this program reach new heights. Mizzou means the world to me and to my family, and we couldn’t be more proud and excited to be in this position.”
Odom will be formally introduced Friday during a noon press conference at Mizzou Arena, which is open to the public and will be televised on the SEC Network.
During a mandatory team meeting at the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex, Rhoades told the Tigers he’d settled on a new coach and the players mobbed Odom when he walked into the auditorium.
“He’s a true Missouri Tiger,” senior left tackle Connor McGovern said. “He will continue coach’s great legacy and make an even better one on his own. He’s truly a great coach and an even better person.”
Senior safety and captain Ian Simon was among several players, including junior linebacker Michael Scherer, who had championed Odom for the job.
Simon called it a “great hire” and said Odom was the “best man for the job.”
Another defensive player, who will be returning next season, also cheered Odom’s hiring, telling The Star, “I would have been extremely disappointed had it not been him.”
On Twitter, freshman quarterback Drew Lock, a Lee’s Summit graduate and the reigning Simone Award winner (until next week), said he was “extremely excited for the future with Coach Odom.”
Odom, a 1999 MU graduate, served on Pinkel’s staff at Missouri in various capacities from 2003-11 before spending three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Memphis.
Odom also had interviewed with Memphis, which announced Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell as Justin Fuente’s successor about an hour before Missouri announced Odom as its head coach.
Odom, a Maysville, Okla., native, also spent time as an assistant coach with his alma mater, Ada (Okla.) High School, in 2000 and was the head coach at Rock Bridge in Columbia from 2001-02.
His hiring also was welcome news for several recruits, who’d committed to Missouri before Pinkel announced Nov. 13 he had follicular lymphoma and would resign after the season.
Hogan Prep wide receiver DaRon Davis, a 2017 MU commit from Kansas City, and Cypress Falls linebacker Trey Baldwin, a human projectile missile from Houston, were among the commits quick to approve of the Tigers’ hire.
Odom returned to his alma mater last December after former defensive coordinator Dave Steckel accepted the head coaching job at Missouri State.
Odom, who graduated as the No. 5 tackler in MU history and still ranks seventh with 362 career tackles, was the architect of a defense this season that ranks No. 7 in scoring defense, allowing 16.2 points per game, and No. 9 in total defense, allowing 302 yards per game.
The Tigers also rank 28th in rushing defense at 132.8 yards and No. 7 in passing defense at 169.3 yards during Odom’s first season at the helm.
It’s unclear what this means for Missouri’s assistant coaches, but safeties coach Ryan Walters seems like a lock to stay after following Odom from Memphis last season.