BREAKING: Missouri fires Barry Odom
Missouri has officially fired football coach Barry Odom. PowerMizzou first reported the news this morning, and the school has now confirmed the firing.
In a statement, athletics director Jim Sterk thanked Odom for his diligent work and said Odom "represented our program with integrity," but he cited the Tigers' slide during the second half of this season as the reason for relieving Odom.
"As a program, we had tremendous momentum coming into the 2019 season with the opening of the new south end zone facility as well as other strategic investments in our football program," Sterk said. "However, we lost a great deal of that energy during the last half of the season. This decision was difficult to make but was necessary."
Odom, who worked his way up the ranks from graduate assistant to defensive coordinator at Missouri, took over as head coach when Gary Pinkel retired following the 2015 season. He went 4-8 in his first season and started his second year 1-5. But Odom's team reeled off six consecutive wins before a loss in the Texas Bowl to finish 7-6. The Tigers followed it up with an 8-5 campaign and a Liberty Bowl berth in 2018, though they had chances to win at least two more.
Missouri lost its season opener 37-31 to Wyoming this year, but bounced back to win five straight home games and enter the Associated Press top 25 on Oct. 13. Then the wheels fell off.
A 21-14 loss to Vanderbilt started a five-game slide in which Mizzou got progressively less competitive. The Tigers lost 29-7 to Kentucky, 27-0 to Georgia and 23-6 to Florida. The went nearly ten full quarters over that span without an offensive touchdown.
Tennessee dealt Missouri its fifth consecutive loss, 24-20 in Columbia, last weekend. The loss dropped the Tigers to 5-6 this season and 24-25 in Odom's tenure. A 24-14 win over Arkansas moved him to .500 overall in 50 games, but wasn't enough to save Odom's job. After he met with Sterk Saturday morning, Odom's firing was announced.
In all, Odom has spent 18 seasons at Missouri. His 25 wins represent the most by any Missouri coach in his first four seasons since Warren Powers from 1978-81. He is also the first coach to be fired by the school after finishing .500 or better in each of his final three seasons. However, Odom finished with a 13-19 mark in conference play and only beat three FBS teams that finished the season with a winning record. Odom won just one game against a ranked team, beating No. 11 Florida last season.
According to Odom's contract, Missouri will owe him $2.85 million in buyout money. No decisions have been publicized about the future of his assistant coaches. In his statement, Sterk said a national search is underway to find Odom's replacement.
"Mizzou enjoys a winning football tradition and has the necessary resources and commitment to compete at the highest level," Sterk said. "We strive to achieve excellence, and we expect to compete for Southeastern Conference titles, consistently play in the postseason and represent Mizzou the right way on and off the field.
"A national search is underway and confidentiality during the process is critical. Thus, I will have no further public comments regarding the search process until the announcement of our next head football coach is made."
PowerMizzou.com will have wall-to-wall coverage of the Tigers' coaching search starting with our initial list of candidates to fill the position.