COLUMBIA, Mo. – It’s been one of the hot topics regarding all of Missouri athletics over the last month.
Ever since the Tigers’ road loss to Vanderbilt, a game where they were favored by 21 points, the job security for Missouri head football coach Barry Odom has been debated.
The Tigers are in the midst of a four-game losing streak where they’ve scored a combined 27 points.
Missouri’s Board of Curators unanimously voted to raise his annual salary to $3.05 million per season through 2024 last December, which also added three seasons to his contract.
The extension did not change the terms of a buyout if Odom is fired without cause before the end of his contract.
Under those terms, if fired without cause, Odom would be paid the remaining base salary ($450,000 per year) on his contract plus any money previously earned in a deferred compensation trust fund. That value is $2.65 million and then $300,000 less for every year after.
The talk of how much time was left in Odom’s tenure at the MU helm, regardless of the extension, first surfaced this year after the season-opening loss at Wyoming, but disappeared after a throttling of West Virginia in Week 2. It looked further away after each of the four consecutive wins that followed the 38-7 victory over the Mountaineers.
Now, as the Tigers’ record is 5-5 and Odom’s is 24-24 as their head coach, he spoke out Tuesday about his job security.
″(Missouri Director of Athletics) Jim (Sterk) and I meet along with (Deputy Athletics Director) Nick Joos, we meet every Wednesday, and we talk about a number of things,” Odom said to start his remarks on his job. “That’s just the standing thing that we do relationship-wise with the head football coach, athletic director and sport administrator, and I look at the body of work that we’ve done at this point. With two games left in year No. 4, we’ve won more games in four years than any coach since I think Warren Powers ... the grade-point average that we’ve produced, the graduation rate, all those things, I know the body of work of what we’ve done.
“Do I wish we would’ve won more up to this point? Absolutely. So does everybody else. But we know the foundation and the culture of the locker room that we have. I’m proud of that. I’m at a really good spot on knowing what we got in the staff room, what we’ve got in our locker room and what we can do here over the next two weeks or 10 days and what that’s going to springboard us into next year.”
Joos was present for Odom’s statement while Sterk was not. Missouri senior defensive back Richaud Floyd said the team is cognizant of what’s being said of their head coach.
“We got to fight for Coach Odom, he fights for us every day, especially on Saturdays,” Floyd said. “If you don’t fight for Coach Odom, you’re a bad person to me because he’s straightforward, he’s transparent, he’s going to give you everything he’s got. So why not? You owe that to him and you owe it to yourself to give everything you’ve got.
Floyd added that fans have been speculating about Odom’s tenure since he took the helm in 2016, meaning this specific noise is nothing new.
Nothing new on appeal
Odom said Tuesday that Missouri has not received any updates about the ongoing NCAA appeal of sanctions that included a one-year postseason ban.
The NCAA sanctions were originally handed down in late January with Missouri’s appeal being processed in March. The NCAA heard MU’s appeal in person in July.
The sanctions also include postseason one-year bans for the Missouri softball and baseball programs as well as scholarship limitations.
Should the Tigers defeat Tennessee on Saturday or Arkansas on Nov. 29, and a decision hasn’t been publicly rendered by Dec. 8, the day most bowl-eligible programs will find out where their season-ending destination is, any ban would carry over to the 2020 season.
“It’s impactful for not just Mizzou, but for the landscape of intercollegiate athletics,” Odom said of the appeal’s verdict. “I know it’s an impactful decision that they’ve got to make. Everybody will be watching what the decision is. Not just the people that follow Mizzou and are impacted by that, it’s going to impact everybody.
Sterk told the Tribune last month that he’s been expecting a ruling every week since late September. Yet, no contact from the NCAA has shown up.
“Unfortunately, it’s wasted time at this point thinking about it,” Odom said of when the Tigers will learn their fate.
Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley isn’t one to mince words, even with the Tigers recent struggles.
MU’s offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in its last nine quarters and put up only six points during that span.
“We’re kind of, a little bit, in football hell right now,” Dooley said. “What’s the quote? When you’re marching through hell, keep going.”
No inferno is expected to appear at Faurot Field on Saturday in Missouri’s penultimate game of the season.
The chances of discontent from the home fans in attendance only grows with each possession that Missouri can’t find the end zone. The Tigers haven’t done so in 30 consecutive possessions.