Missouri coach Barry Odom confirmed Wednesday that quarterback Maty Mauk has been reinstated to the football team during a brief session with reporters before the 35th annual Braggin’ Rights game between Missouri and Illinois at the Scottrade Center.
Odom met with Mauk, who was suspended for the final eight games of his junior season, several times as the fall semester drew to a close.
“We had long talks together and understand on both sides of it, I wanted to hear what he wanted,” Odom said. “Did he want to be here? Did he want to get his degree? Does he want to play football? Those were some things that only he and I could work out and talk through.”
Satisfied with those meetings, Odom has allowed Mauk back on the team.
Mauk, who will be a senior in 2016, was originally suspended Sept. 29 for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Missouri was 3-1 and coming off a loss at Kentucky at that time.
Former Tigers coach Gary Pinkel reinstated Mauk on Oct. 25 during a bye week.
Less than a week later, Pinkel did an about-face and suspended Mauk for the remainder of the season after a midweek incident at a Columbia bar only hours after apologizing to his teammates.
Mauk completed 51.8 percent of his passes, going 57 of 110 for 654 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s 17-5 as a starter in his MU career.
“That position, the quarterback position, is so hugely important to having success,” Odom said. “You look at Pop Warner football and you look at the Pro Bowl, the team with the best quarterback usually wins. That’s no different than what we’re trying to do.”
Missouri went 2-6 after Mauk’s suspension with freshman quarterback Drew Lock leading the offense. He completed 49.0 percent of his passes, going 129 of 263 for 1,332 with four touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Odom said there will be open competition for the starting quarterback job and all other jobs when the team returns for the spring semester.
“When we start back in January, all of our players that are choosing to come back on the team, I think it’s important for them to understand they have a chance to earn their right wherever that ends up, whether it’s a starter or a fifth-team guy,” Odom said.