By: Nate Smith
The Tigers’ victory over Arkansas to close out the season wasn’t enough for Barry Odom to retain his job. Odom was dismissed on Saturday morning, ending his four-year stint as the Tigers’ Head Football Coach. University of Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk held a press conference at 4 PM on Saturday afternoon and spoke at length about the dismissal of Odom. “This decision was not an easy one, but necessary, and supported by Chancellor Cartwright and President Choi. As you know, Coach Odom has been a big part of Mizzou football for almost 20 years, and all of us really appreciate what he’s done and contributed to the university and to the program. Mizzou is really thankful for his contributions. I know how hard he and his staff have worked this past season and the previous three (seasons) to make our program better. Coach Odom has dedicated himself to developing our student-athletes, on and off the field, for which we are really, really grateful.” Sterk added that the decision was also especially tough because he knows Odom “bleeds black and gold”.
When asked what ultimately led to Odom’s dismissal, Sterk responded, “I felt we lost momentum as a program and that it would be difficult for us under (Odom’s) leadership to continue to move forward.” Sterk wouldn’t fully commit to the when the precise time was that the decision to fire Odom was made, but did give a time range, admitting that it was discussed prior to the Arkansas game. Sterk said, “the decision was actually made in the last 24-48 hours, with President Choi and Chancellor Cartwright.”
As for the timeline of finding a new head coach, Sterk says Mizzou will “try to move quickly”. Sterk added that “hopefully in the next week and a half (or) two weeks, (we will) have a good idea who can be our next coach.” “Things have really changed as far as the football landscape with the early signing period (December 18th-20th), with the transfer portal (and all of) those things, (so it is) important that we move swiftly and hire the right person.” Sterk confirmed that the athletic department will consult ‘Parker’, an executive search firm that helped the Tigers net Men’s Head Basketball Coach Cuonzo Martin. The vacancy is already garnering interest, with Sterk saying, “I know we’re gonna have a lot of interest, we already have a lot of interest, and we’ll be looking to hire the right person.” “If we can go out and hire someone with a lot of experience, then we’re gonna look at that. We’re gonna look at coaches that have been successful,” Sterk said. Sterk also wants a candidate who is “truly interested”. “I don’t want to talk to somebody that’s just trying to leverage it for a better contract.”
When Missouri does ultimately hire someone to fill the position of Head Football Coach, they will have a “great opportunity”, according to Sterk. The Missouri Athletic Director says that Mizzou “has the resources to be a (top 25 team), consistently in the postseason, to compete for championships. (Former Tigers’ Head Coach Gary Pinkel) showed that a couple (of) times when he went to the (SEC Championship). I think with the investment that we’ve made recently in our South End Zone project, it puts on us a level, as far as (athletic facilities) that are second to none.” Sterk repeatedly praised the university’s athletic facilities, also calling them “a recruiter’s dream”.
Sterk said he will not be available for further comment until after the hiring process is complete. In the meantime, Missouri fans should take note of Sterk’s plan to move swiftly and hire an experienced and successful coach. “I’m excited about the future. I think we have a great opportunity moving forward, we have a lot of good players in our program that we want to build upon, and get the right person in here—a really good coach to come in and take over.”