Missouri has seen a 5-1 start wilt into a 5-5 record heading into the club's final two regular season games against Tennessee and Arkansas. The Tigers sit on the bowl bubble in more ways than one as, even if they win both games, the program is currently banned from postseason play this fall, a penalty handed down in January because the NCAA found a single tutor had completed coursework for a dozen Mizzou athletes. Mizzou has appealed, and a decision is expected any day now.
Despite that asterisk-shaped cloud hanging over the program, the natives are restless because, well, #ItJustMeansMore. Barry Odom sits at 24-24 nearly four full seasons in, while following Gary Pinkel and his program-record 118 wins from 2001-15.
Amid those questions, Missouri AD Jim Sterk provided this statement to Power Mizzou.
“Coach Odom, his staff and student-athletes have worked incredibly hard since beginning their journey together back in January, and I know they are disappointed in their on-field performance over the last four games after a 5-1 start vaulted Mizzou into the AP Top 25.
"It is important to note that in the Associated Press Poll era, only two Mizzou coaches, Dan Devine and Warren Powers, have won more games in their first four seasons in Columbia than Coach Odom. He has not allowed the still unknown outcome of Mizzou’s NCAA appeal or key injuries stop him, the staff or players from continuing to build a positive locker room culture within our program, which includes record-setting academic success the past two semesters, and I remain supportive of his efforts.
I look forward to the Tigers becoming bowl-eligible for the third-straight year, something Mizzou hasn’t accomplished in nearly a decade, and sending our 18 seniors out on a high note in our final two regular season games.”
Obviously, that's a lot of words seemingly uttered to distract from the fact that none of those words really answer the question. Perhaps the tell is there -- "I remain supportive of his efforts" -- but, typically, the best response to a direct question is a direct response.
Very few coaches are as invested in their programs than Odom is with Mizzou. Actually, scratch that. There's no FBS head coach more intertwined with his program than Barry Odom, a former Tiger middle linebacker, graduate assistant, director of recruiting, director of football operations, position coach, coordinator and, now, head coach.
In all, the 42-year-old Odom has spent all but three years of his adult life wearing Tiger colors, and it'd be a shame to see the machine that is big-time college football chew him up and spit him out after just four seasons in the big chair.
However, Sterk's response failed to put those fears to bed.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.