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Odom’s Mizzou ‘candidacy’ can’t be based on one game

Barry Odom

(T.J. Moe played wide receiver at Missouri from 2009-12. He was an All-Big 12 selection in 2010 and a team captain as a senior in ’12.)

Friday’s game with Arkansas is no job interview for Barry Odom.

To call the game a job interview would be to completely ignore 15 years of experience and success at every position and every level. If we’re going to penalize Odom for not having head-coaching experience, fine. If that’s your requirement to be qualified, I won’t argue with you. But to call one game against a good Arkansas team a job interview? That’s a bit shortsighted.

Let me explain.

Odom played for Mizzou from 1996-99. He once told me a story about the time he lined up at linebacker against Texas, looked into the backfield and saw Texas’ running backs: Priest Holmes and Ricky Williams.

It’s certainly not a requirement to play high-level division I football, but I think we can certainly agree that he understands what it’s like to be a Mizzou football player. That seems beneficial if those are the guys he’s going to be leading.

Check.

How about this for a resume builder? He was coach at Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge High from 2001-02 before being hired at Mizzou. Think that gives him a better understanding of recruiting? I do.

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In 2003, Odom decided he wanted to be a college coach. Gary Pinkel hired him as a graduate assistant. For anyone who doesn’t understand what that requires, it may be the single most time-consuming job in all of football. Not only are you expected to attend class, but you must meticulously chart of every yard gained, every first down surrendered and all of the tendencies of the opposing offense.

After one season, Pinkel gave him a promotion.

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From 2004-05, Odom served as Missouri’s director of recruiting. Remember that magical ’07 season at Mizzou, the one that saw the Tigers ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1960? Remember the players on that roster — Will Franklin, William Moore, Tony Temple, Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, Ziggy Hood. That’s a Heisman finalist, an All-American and an NFL first-rounder, second-rounder and third-rounder. Those guys were recruited during the two years Odom oversaw the department.

Check.

In 2006, Odom was promoted to director of football operations. That may be the most all-encompassing job in the entire industry. Here’s just a few of the primary duties: day-to-day management of the football program, handling team travel, budget manager, overseeing summer camps and clinics, overseeing the summer jobs program, overseeing the summer housing program, football alumni coordinator, bowl game management and basically meeting all the needs of every coach and staff member.

After doing that job at such a high level in 2006, Odom was awarded the title “assistant athletic director,” which essentially gave Mizzou a reason to raise Odom’s salary for his excellent work.

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Odom’s first season as a position coach at Missouri was 2009; he coached safeties. That was also my first season as a Mizzou player. The day I walked in that door, he exuded more confidence than anyone in the building. Instead of a first-year guy, you’d have thought he was a 20-year veteran. He held that position for three seasons and remained a player favorite until taking the defensive coordinator job at Memphis.

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The season before Odom took over at Memphis, in 2011, the Tigers’ defense ranked 105th nationally in scoring defense. Three years later, Memphis finished the season 11th in scoring defense. Show me another guy that has done that in that amount of time. You won’t find many.

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After Dave Steckel’s departure to Missouri State after the 2014 season, Odom was promoted to replace Steckel as Mizzou’s defensive coordinator. He took over a unit that was good in 2014 and made it dominant. The 2014 Tigers ranked 19th in scoring defense, allowing 21.1 points per game. This season, the Tigers are seventh in scoring defense, allowing only 15.1 points per game. Oh, and he also coaches the team’s linebackers. This season, he’s taken Kentrell Brothers and turned him into a national name.

Check.

There’s really no other way to say this: Odom has been tested at every level and passed with flying colors. He’s been there, done that. To call one single game a job interview? Well, that’s just not fair. It’s not fair to him and it’s not fair to Mizzou fans, the fans that deserve a coach and a man like Barry Odom.

(You can follow T.J. Moe on Twitter @TJMoe28)
(Feature photo COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI)

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