Missouri is narrowing its search for a new offensive coordinator.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday that Utah State offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was leaving to take the same position with the Tigers.
Utah State’s Scout.com affiliate also reported that Heupel would be leaving for Missouri, but MU officials would not confirm the report, saying there was nothing to confirm.
A source told The Star that Heupel is among the candidates for the offensive coordinator position, which became open when new coach Barry Odom opted not to retain Josh Henson. But Heupel is not the only candidate.
Odom, 39, who recently finished his first season as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator, was hired last Thursday as Gary Pinkel’s replacement. Pinkel announced Nov. 13 he had follicular lymphoma and would resign after the season, which ended at 5-7 with a 28-3 loss Nov. 27 at Arkansas.
Odom’s contract is expected to be approved this week, along with a salary pool for his assistant coaches, at a University of Missouri system Board of Curators meeting on the St. Louis campus. No staff contracts can be finalized until after Odom’s hire is made official.
But within hours of his introductory news conference Friday at Mizzou Arena, Odom hit the road to recruit players. It’s unclear how much time he has had to focus on putting together his staff yet.
The offensive coordinator position is considered crucial, because Odom has a defensive background, and it was the offense that held back the Tigers last season.
Missouri ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense and ninth in total defense, but the offense averaged only 280.9 yards per game — the fewest in the SEC by nearly 50 yards (Vanderbilt, 326.5 ypg) — checking in 125th among 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
The Tigers ranked 127th this season in scoring offense at 13.6 points per game, ahead of only a 3-9 Kent State team.
Heupel, who as a quarterback led Oklahoma to the national title in 2000, served as the Sooners’ co-offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2010.
Oklahoma ranked fifth, 12th, 52nd and 24th nationally in total offense during his four seasons as co-offensive coordinator. During that same span the Sooners were 10th, 15th, 40th and 21st in scoring offense before he was fired last January.
Utah State, which dealt with several quarterback injuries this season, ranked 60th in the nation in scoring offense at 29.7 points, but only 92nd in total offense with 370.8 yards per game.
Odom has retained Andy Hill, Cornell Ford and Ryan Walters from Pinkel’s 2015 staff, but it’s unclear what roles those coaches will fill moving forward. Strength and conditioning coach Pat Ivey also will return.
Offensive line coach A.J. Ricker and wide receivers coach Pat Washington will not be back next season, and running backs coach Brian Jones and defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski aren’t expected to be retained either.