University of Missouri

Mizzou names Barry Odom new defensive coordinator

Barry Odom played at Missouri during 1996-1999.
Barry Odom played at Missouri during 1996-1999.

Missouri’s search for a new defensive coordinator didn’t take long.

The Tigers announced Tuesday morning that Memphis defensive coordinator Barry Odom, a former MU linebacker, had been hired to replace Dave Steckel.

Odom, 38, who coached Memphis on Monday in the Miami Beach Bowl, will join coach Gary Pinkel’s staff after the Citrus Bowl.

“We’re really excited to have Barry and his family back at Mizzou,” Pinkel said in a release from MU Athletics. “He’s done an outstanding job at Memphis these past three years. He’s coached with us before, and it’s great to see someone professionally advance himself and go do such a great job elsewhere. I know he was sought after by several other power five schools recently, so we feel very fortunate to have him with us.”

Odom played linebacker for Missouri during 1996-99 under former coach Larry Smith, graduating as the program’s fifth-leading tackler, and later worked under Pinkel during 2003-11.

“It goes without saying how excited I am to have this opportunity,” said Odom, who still ranks seventh in Tigers history with 362 tackles.

He started as an administrative graduate assistant for one season before serving as MU’s director of recruiting for two years.

Odom was promoted to director of football operations from 2006-08 before joining Pinkel’s full-time staff as safeties coach for three seasons.

Three Tigers — Kenji Jackson, Jarrell Harrison and Jasper Simmons — earned All-Big 12 honors at safety during Odom’s tenure.

“He’ll be an awesome fit,” said former Missouri star and current Chiefs backup quarterback Chase Daniel. “He knows the guys, he knows the area, he recruits really well. His work is done for him at Memphis, a Top 25 defense that past few years, so it’s an exciting time.”

In addition to his role as defensive coordinator, Odom will coach MU’s linebackers.

“Coach Odom’s a cool coach,” junior defensive end Shane Ray said. “He’s a younger guy, so he’s had good relationships with his players, especially the guys in my class when we got here. … I think he’s definitely a great fit. He’s coming back home.”

Odom, a Maysville, Okla., native, has served as Memphis’ defensive coordinator and safeties coach for the last three seasons.

The Memphis defense improved greatly under Odom, jumping from 117th nationally in total defense in 2011, the year before he arrived, to 50th in his first season.

This season, Memphis was ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense (17.1 points per game) and 22nd in total defense (343.3 yards) entering the postseason.

After college, Odom became a high school assistant in Oklahoma, his home state, and in 2001 became the head coach of Rock Bridge High in Columbia. He coached two teams, both making the playoffs, and his 2002 squad reach the state semifinals.

“It’s always tough to leave a place that’s been as good to me as Memphis has, and I can’t thank coach (Justin) Fuentes enough for the opportunity he provided for me,” Odom said. “Being a part of this building process for the last three years has made me a better coach, and I’m proud to know that it’s in better shape now than what we came into.”

Led by its defense, Memphis earned a share of the American Athletic Conference championship, the program’s first conference title since 1971.

Memphis, 10-3, defeated BYU 55-48 in double overtime Monday in Miami, Fla.

“He was one of the nicest coaches here, so if he was to come back I would be happy to play for him,” Missouri junior linebacker Kentrell Brothers said.

Details of Odom’s contract still are being finalized.

Steckel, who was introduced Dec. 14 as Missouri State’s head coach, will remain as defensive coordinator until after No. 16 Missouri, 10-3, plays Minnesota, 8-4, in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlairKerkhoff.

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