Eliah Drinkwitz is on a meteoric rise, and he hopes to elevate Missouri football with him.

The 36-year-old coaching phenom cast his vision for his new program Tuesday as he was officially introduced as the 33rd head coach in program history, this just four days after leading Appalachian State to a Sun Belt Conference championship in his lone season there.

“Our purpose is to win, make no mistake about it, but it’s to win the right way,” Drinkwitz declared to a full house inside the Show-Me Club at Memorial Stadium. “Our goal, our stated goal, is going to be to win the Sun Belt … uh, sorry … to win the SEC East, a bowl game, with class, integrity and academic excellence.”

Forgive the new boss for the honest mixup. The teams he has been part of only know winning.

There was Auburn in 2010, which won the BCS National Championship with Drinkwitz as a quality control assistant. There were bowl games with him on staff at Arkansas State and Boise State, then three more at North Carolina State as its offensive coordinator.

In his first year ever leading a football program, he elevated Appalachian State to a conference title and No. 20 billing in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

“Every place he’s been, he’s been a winner and made the place better,” Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said Tuesday of his pivotal hire. “Everyone we talked to, that was the common theme — plus the integrity and character and all the values he represents.”

Tuesday was perhaps the most encouraging day for Missouri football this year, which, taking away from the spirit of celebration, illustrates just how far the 2019 season swooned.

First came the five-game losing streak during Southeastern Conference play. Then Missouri was hit with the upholding of NCAA sanctions, announced four days before the Tigers earned their sixth win — at long last — against Arkansas in Little Rock just 10 days ago. The next morning, Barry Odom was fired after four years leading the Tigers to a 25-25 record over four seasons.

Sterk sensed the need for a new coach because of what he said was a loss of momentum for a program still within its first decade as a member of the SEC and with brand new facilities that help bring it up to par with many perennial contenders around the country.

Drinkwitz intends for the Tigers to reclaim the positive energy right away.

“We must reignite our passion,” Drinkwitz said. “We must unify our purpose. We must restore the pride in Mizzou football. We must all come together, believe in our players, believe in our mission. We must compete every single day to be better today than we were yesterday. If we do that, the future is bright at Mizzou, and I can’t wait to push this program forward.”

“I’ve got a 10-day plan, a 15-day plan, a 20-day plan, a 30-day plan and a 90-day plan on what we’ve got to get done to get moving,” Drinkwitz said later when asked about his first steps. “We’ve got to capture the momentum that we have right now.”

The expectations from university leadership have been made clear: Sterk expects the program to be in the Top 25, churn out winning seasons and be in the national conversation.

Drinkwitz must first assemble a team and staff in short order to compete in 2020, hiring assistants — he plans to serve as his own offensive coordinator, at least initially — and locking up commits by the start of the early signing period Dec. 18.

“We’re looking for the right fit for Mizzou football,” he said of what he looks for in future Tigers. “We’re looking for focused, intangibles, talented and tough. Those four characteristics are the hallmark of a championship football program, and those are the kind of kids that we’re gonna recruit. I know those kids are in Missouri.”

So what’s a realistic expectation for Missouri in Year One under Drinkwitz?

“Well, I don’t live in realistic expectations,” the new coach said. “I shoot for the moon. Realistic, unrealistic, I don’t know what that is. I know the realistic goal is that we’re going to compete every single day to be better today than we were yesterday.”

It’s a formula that has served Drinkwitz well in his short but successful career.

“I don’t apologize for being young,” he said. “It’s not a detriment. It is what it is.”

Drinkwitz is not a finished product, and neither is Missouri. In that sense it’s a perfect match.

Coaching Appalachian State this past season gave him a crash course on configuring a roster, putting together a coaching staff and managing an organization on a day-to-day basis.

“I’ve got a handle on all that, but by no means do I have the book written,” he said. “We’re learning every single day and I look forward to learning what’s going to work best at Mizzou.”

kgraeler@columbiatribune.com