Odom takes charge at Arkansas after Pittman's positive test

By Jeff Gordon
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

That didn't take long: Barry Odom is a head college football coach once again.

OK, his elevation Monday came on an interim basis. Odom, who was fired last year as Missouri's coach, is temporarily standing in for Arkansas coach Sam Pittman – who was shelved after testing positive for COVID-19.

Arkansas (3-3) is one of the SEC's success stories this season. Pittman has rallied a downtrodden program to victories over Mississippi State, Mississippi and Tennessee as the first-year head coach.

The Razorbacks came into this season with a 20-game conference losing streak, so Pittman is a strong candidate for SEC Coach of the Year.

As defensive coordinator, Odom has played a major role in the program's turnaround. Along the way he is rebuilding his personal coaching stock.

The Razorbacks hope that Pittman's test result was a false positive, which could allow him to return quickly. In the meantime Odom is guiding their preparations for Saturday's game against high-flying Florida.

"Practice will be very similar to if I was there," Pittman said. "Once I get my test results back in the morning, we may add a coach. We've got a couple of [graduate assistants] that we could move up. I'm not positive where that would help us to be honest with you. I don't see the head coaching role for Barry being any change really whatsoever until Saturday.

"Barry, right now he's basically at practice. I have the tone setter for practice. And then during practice I run basically all the timing of practice, and oversee every drill and all those things. Barry won't be able to do that, because he has a defense to get ready.

"When we go out to practice, somebody on the equipment staff will run the timing of practice instead of me, and Barry will coach defense. But as far as the voice of the team and those things, that'll be coach Odom. Certainly if I'm not able to go to Florida on Saturday, he'll act as the head coach and he'll do a damn fine job I'm sure."

Elsewhere in the SEC, positive COVID-19 tests in the Mississippi State program forced the postponement of its game against Auburn. An outbreak at LSU is endangering its game against Alabama while Texas A&M is also dealing with a few positive tests.