Josh Heupel’s departure to become the coach at Central Florida leaves Missouri coach Barry Odom with two big hires to make: Heupel’s replacement as offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator to replace DeMonite Cross, who was fired earlier in the season.
Heupel ran a very fast-paced and pass-heavy offense, so if Odom wants to run a similar system he has a number of options. He could also look at a former teammate or an in-house candidate. Here are a few:
Joe Jon Finley, Missouri tight ends coach
The popular in-house candidate for the job, Finley has done wonders as the Tigers’ tight end coach as he’s helped make redshirt freshman Albert Okwuegbunam a star and Blue Springs native Kendall Blanton a solid contributor to the offense. Finley played in Heupel’s offense at Oklahoma and helped put it together when he returned to Norman as a graduate assistant. Having worked with Heupel so much, Finley is also considered a candidate to run the UCF offense.
Hugh Freeze, former Ole Miss coach
Freeze left the Rebels program in shambles after multiple NCAA violations but is still allowed to be an assistant coach. There’s no hiding the fact that Freeze knows offense and has a good history of developing quarterbacks, such as Chad Kelly and Bo Wallace. Freeze and Odom have a very good relationship as they share the same agent in Jimmy Sexton. The question with Freeze is whether athletic director Jim Sterk would want a coaching hire with NCAA baggage.
Jimmie Dougherty, UCLA wide receivers coach
Dougherty is a former Missouri quarterback who overlapped with Odom for two years in Columbia. He spent the past season as the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator for the Bruins. He’s also worked at Michigan and San Diego under Jim Harbaugh and at Oregon and Washington. While Dougherty has never been an offensive coordinator, he’s a coach who Odom played with and has plenty of Power 5 experience.
Sonny Cumbie, TCU co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach
Cumbie nearly was hired as offensive coordinator when Odom first took over at Missouri. Cumbie put up big numbers as a college quarterback at Texas Tech in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, which makes him similar to Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. Heupel based Missouri’s offense off a combination of Leach’s and former Baylor coach Art Briles’ spread, so Cumbie’s system wouldn’t be a huge adjustment for Missouri’s personnel. He also has recruiting ties to Texas, which is a state Odom has hit hard.
Graham Harrell, North Texas offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach
Harrell is another disciple of Leach’s who put up big numbers for the Red Raiders as a quarterback. Harrell helped led North Texas to nine wins this season and had one of the top-20 offenses in the country. He also has recruiting ties to Texas. Also, Harrell’s athletic director is former Missouri assistant A.D. Wren Baker. Harrell has also been at Washington State and Oklahoma State. He won a Super Bowl ring with the Green Bay Packers as Aaron Rodgers’ backup.