New Missouri head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz is stepping into "an opportunity of a lifetime," as he puts it, but it's one that will have its fair share of immediate challenges.

In November, the NCAA upheld sanctions on MU football, softball and baseball stemming from an investigation of violations by tutor Yolanda Kumar, who publicly claimed allegations of academic fraud against the university. The sanctions include three years probation for the entire athletic department; a 5% reduction in scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year; recruiting restrictions; and a fine of $5,000 plus 1% from each program's budget.

Drinkwitz also inherits a program struggling to establish an identity after two consecutive bowl losses and a middling year that barely ended with six wins. Three top players from former coach Barry Odom's tenure, defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam and offensive lineman Trystan Colon-Castillo, are heading to the 2020 NFL Draft and forgoing remaining eligibility.

And yes, with a $4 million contract, expectations from fans are bound to run pretty high.

But those obstacles did not deter the first-year Appalachian State coach from taking the position. In fact, during his introductory news conference Tuesday, Drinkwitz presented a persona of confidence and assurance in his ability to make the Tigers a presence in the highly competitive Southeastern Conference.

"He told me that when this job opened, this was the one he wanted," Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said.

"This wasn't just another job," Drinkwitz said.

Drinkwitz addressed the challenges ahead of him and expressed his eagerness to get started.

The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Reporter: How did you negotiate for this position the same day as the Sun Belt Conference Championship?

Drinkwitz: "My daughter had The Nutcracker at 7 p.m. ... (Appalachian State) won the Sun Belt championship, and representation said, 'Hey, Missouri wants to meet with you tonight.' And I said, 'Well, I have The Nutcracker at 7 p.m.,' and they said, 'We'll wait for you.' So I snuck out of The Nutcracker and drove to a Hampton Inn in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. That's really where it started. And it was final this morning at 8 a.m."

What put coming to Missouri over the top for you?

"What put this place over the top was the leadership's commitment to the football program. Their vision for what they're trying to do matched our vision. I felt there was a synergy within that, and I felt like that was something I could really be a part of. Talk is talk, but actions show you where they're really aligned, and (Sterk, Chancellor Alexander Cartwright, UM System President Mun Choi and the Board of Curators) were aligned in the right way. (Choi) was very direct about what the expectations of Mizzou football are and how we needed to go about accomplishing those."

Have you made any decisions on your coaching staff?

"Right now, (I'm) deciding what's important and what's urgent. The most urgent thing for us is to be on the road recruiting. So I'm taking my time on making those decisions. I will be making those decisions today and tomorrow as I'm on the road recruiting. ... When we're talking about hiring men, we're talking about hiring people of high character who live the truth that they speak of, who have integrity. The most important characteristic for me is low ego, high output. I'm looking for a defensive coordinator who's gonna work with our players and push them to have the best performance."

How do you plan to recruit with the NCAA recruiting sanctions in place?

"I understand that (recruiting with sanctions) will be a tough task, and we'll face it together. I'm in the process of reviewing the roster and figuring out where we can manage the holes in the roster with just having 81 scholarships, which is a very difficult thing to do. It's going to be hard. But I like the challenge."

What do you expect transitioning from the Sun Belt to the SEC?

"I don't fear failure, I attack success. No matter where my family and I have been, we've been able to rise to the occasion, to compete, to do it better than it's ever been done before."