The quest for the University of Missouri’s next head football coach has concluded, and after a thorough national search, Mizzou Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades has selected current assistant coach and defensive coordinator Barry Odom to guide the program into the future. Odom has agreed, in principle, to a five-year deal that makes him the 32nd head coach in MU history, with financial details of the contract to be released when approved by the MU Board of Curators at its regularly-scheduled meeting December 10-11.
Odom will be presented publicly in a press conference set for Friday, Dec. 4th at 12 p.m. on the main floor of Mizzou Arena. The event is open to the public, and will be televised live on the SEC Network.
A longtime fixture at Mizzou, Odom, 39, takes over a program he has been immersed in at every level for some 14 years – including six in an administrative capacity (2003-08), four as a coach (2009-11, 2015) and four as a highly-successful student-athlete (1996-99). He has spent the past four seasons as a defensive coordinator, including three at Memphis (2012-14) and one at Missouri, where his units were considered among the best in the nation.
“We are extremely excited to announce Barry Odom as the new leader of the Mizzou football program,” Rhoades said. “We had the opportunity to visit with a number of excellent coaches throughout our search. At the conclusion of that process, Coach Odom was the clear choice to serve as our next coach. He is a man of high integrity and possesses all the qualities you look for in a successful head coach. He has an undeniable passion for Mizzou, a strong track-record of success at each level of his career and a clear vision to mentor our student-athletes and lead our program to even greater heights.”
Odom recently finished up an outstanding season as first-year defensive coordinator for Mizzou and retired coach Gary Pinkel, as his Tigers ranked ninth in the nation in total defense, allowing just 302.0 yards per game. Since the NCAA began tracking defensive statistics in 1978, this marks the first time in MU history that Mizzou has had a top-10 defense. Odom’s defense was also ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense (16.2 avg.), seventh in pass defense (169.2 avg.) and second in tackles for loss (8.8 avg.).
Prior to that, Odom became one of the more highly sought-after coordinators in the country due to three stellar years directing Memphis’ defense from 2012-14. His 2014 defense was a key component of Memphis’ 10-3 season, as his unit finished the regular season ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense (17.1 avg.) and 22nd in total defense (343.3 avg.). That marked an impressive incremental improvement under Odom’s watch, as Memphis ranked 117th nationally in total defense the season prior to his arrival. In his first season at Memphis, the defense improved to 50th nationally (383.6 avg.), followed by a jump to 39th in 2013 (370.7 avg.). Memphis earned a share of the 2014 American Athletic Conference title, giving them a conference championship for the first time since 1971.
“I’m tremendously honored to have this opportunity,” said Odom. “It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time as I’ve made my various stops leading up to this point. I understand the responsibility we have to not only carry on the tradition of excellence that Gary Pinkel has built here, but also to help this program reach new heights. Mizzou means the world to me and to my family, and we couldn’t be more proud and excited to be in this position. There are so many people I am thankful for from throughout my career – they are responsible for allowing me to learn and understand all the facets of building a program – that I couldn’t name them all. I’m grateful to Chancellor Hank Foley, President Mike Middleton, the Board of Curators and Mack Rhoades for their faith in me, and to Gary Pinkel for his support over the years. I can’t wait to get started.”
A true son of Mizzou, Odom, a Maysville, Okla. native, played under former Coach Larry Smith, and starred as a linebacker from 1996-99. He ended his playing career with 362 tackles, which still ranks as seventh-most in school history. Odom was a captain for his senior year of 1999, and was a key figure on the Missouri teams which reached bowl games in 1997 and 1998, ending a 14-year postseason drought for Tiger fans.
Success followed Odom’s career path at each future stop after his playing days. After earning his undergraduate degree in December of 1999, he served as an intern with Mizzou’s Tiger Scholarship Fund while he worked on his Master’s in Education from the University of Missouri (which he would earn in May of 2004). He returned to his home state of Oklahoma in July of that year to serve as an assistant football coach for his alma mater Ada High School, which finished that season as runners-up for a state title.
Odom was quickly back in his adopted hometown of Columbia, Mo., the next spring, as he took over as head coach at Rock Bridge High School. He quickly built the Bruins into a power, as they went 6-4 in 2001, and won a conference championship. He followed with an 8-4 campaign in 2002 that saw Rock Bridge reach the semifinals of the state championship playoffs.
Running a college program became a focal point next, and Odom began that path by joining the Mizzou staff, first as an administrative graduate assistant for Gary Pinkel in 2003. He spent the 2004 and 2005 seasons as Pinkel’s director of recruiting as the staff assembled a core group which would help lead Mizzou to consecutive Big 12 Conference North Division titles in 2007 and 2008 which consisted of 12-win and 10-win seasons, respectively.
From 2006-08, Odom helped run Pinkel’s program administratively as his director of operations. In that role, Odom oversaw coordination of the team’s budget, travel plans (including bowl trips to the Sun, Cotton and Alamo bowls during that stretch), compliance issues, facilities operations and scheduling, as well as assisting with recruiting operations and managing the day-to-day overall operations of the program.
As director of football operations, he coordinated all public relations activities and community service events that required the presence of Mizzou’s football student-athletes, and also played a key role as part of the design and planning team that oversaw the expansion and renovation of the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex, which opened in February of 2008.
Born Nov. 26, 1976 in Lawton, Okla., Odom and his wife Tritia (Tia) were married in July of 2000. Tia is a native of Kahoka, Mo., and is a graduate of MU’s College of Human Environmental Sciences. The couple has three children – sons James Trump and Garyt Robert, and daughter Anna Lockwood.