First-year Missouri coach Barry Odom is thrilled with the announcement last week of a $10 million gift from the Kansas City Sports Trust, which brings improvements to the program’s football facilities nearer reality.
“It’s such a huge positive step and then we got the gift that was awarded last week that puts the thing in motion, which is exciting,” Odom said. “It’s fun for me to be able to sit in and help design the thing on what will make Mizzou football move forward for the next 20 years.”
The idea of a south end zone complex — including a new weight room and locker rooms, offices for Odom and his staff, training facilities and a recruiting area — was shelved under former athletic director Mack Rhoades, who left in July for Baylor.
New athletic director Jim Sterk said it was back on the table and is a top priority for Tigers athletics as the first of three phases of planned upgrades.
“Jim’s got a great idea on things he thinks the facility should be, and it’s been a lot of fun working with him on that project,” Odom said. “As we get things with that really moving, it’s an exciting time.”
Former MU All-American dies
Former Missouri All-American Conrad Hitchler, a two-way star at end for Dan Devine’s teams from 1960-62, died early Monday morning after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Hitchler, 79, led the Tigers in receiving in 1961 and was an All-Big Eight performer as a junior and senior, when he also earned All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America.
He was an Associated Press third-team All-American and Newspaper Enterprise Association second-team All-American that season.
Hitchler’s son, Conrad Goode, was a United Press International first-team All-American at Mizzou in 1983.
Hitchler, who was inducted into the Mizzou Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, and Goode are the first father-son All-Americans in program history.
Hitchler went on to play three seasons with the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders and later was a home-builder in Kansas City.
Goode, who graduated from Parkway Central in St. Louis, is an actor and screenwriter in Los Angeles. He played three seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants (1984-85) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987).
Odom might have some interesting attire for this week’s SEC opener against Georgia at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
It’s Mizzou’s “Tiger Stripe” game, which has fans in alternating sections wear black and gold to create a cool visual in the stands.
“I’m going to wear a black shirt and gold pants to make sure I (wear) both,” Odom said.
Since joining the SEC, Missouri is 2-2 in its conference openers.
The Tigers are 1-4 all-time against the Bulldogs, including two losses by an average of 27 1/2 points in the only previous meetings in Columbia.
Still, Odom is excited for his SEC debut,
“We’re honored with the opportunity to see where we’re at week one in conference play,” Odom said. “I’m excited about having the chance for our team and our staff.”
Senior running back Alex Ross (left ankle sprain) and senior cornerback Aarion
Penton (left shoulder sprain) left Saturday’s victory against Eastern Michigan.
Odom said both players were limited during Sunday night’s practice, but he is “very confident” Ross and Penton will practice Tuesday.
Senior tight end Sean Culkin, who was in street clothes Saturday with a left foot strain, practiced some Sunday and will be “fully activated” Tuesday, according to Odom.
Kickoff announced for Delaware State
Missouri’s third nonconference game against Delaware State, an 0-2 team from the Football Championship Subdivision, was selected for a mid-afternoon kickoff.
The Tigers and Hornets will tangle at 3 p.m. Sept. 24 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia on the SEC Network.
The Star’s Alec Lewis contributed to this report.