Missouri selects Odom as head football coach

Missouri named defensive coordinator Barry Odom as its new head football coach Thursday night.

Barry Odom will be the next head coach of the Missouri football team.

The team announced Odom as its 32nd head coach Thursday evening. Odom, 39, is coming off his first season as Missouri's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

Odom's hire fills the vacancy left by Gary Pinkel, the program's all-time winningest coach. Pinkel announced last month he would be resigning after the season because of a non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis he received in May.

"I'm tremendously honored to have this opportunity," Odom said in a statement. "It's something I've thought about for a long time as I've made my various stops leading up to this point. I understand the responsibility we have to not only carry on the tradition of excellence that Gary Pinkel has built here, but also to help this program reach new heights."

Odom agreed in principle to a five-year deal. Financial details are unavailable until the university's Board of Curators approves the contract at its regularly scheduled meeting Dec. 10-11 in St. Louis.

Odom played linebacker at Missouri from 1996-99, and worked as an assistant for the Tigers from 2003-11 before leaving to be Memphis' defensive coordinator.

"Mizzou means the world to me and to my family," Odom said, "and we couldn't be more proud and excited to be in this position."

Odom's name was brought up by many as a potential replacement when Pinkel's resignation was announced Nov. 13. In Odom's first season as Missouri's defensive coordinator, the Tigers allowed an average of 4.32 yards per play, third in the country. They finished their season seventh in points allowed per game and ninth in yards allowed per game.

Odom's hire brings an end to a coaching search that began for director of athletics Mack Rhoades in late October, when Pinkel said he decided he would step down after the year.

"We are extremely excited to announce Barry Odom as the new leader of the Mizzou football program," Rhoades said in the statement. "We had the opportunity to visit with a number of excellent coaches throughout our search. At the conclusion of that process, coach Odom was the clear choice to serve as our next coach.

"He is a man of high integrity and possesses all the qualities you look for in a successful head coach. He has an undeniable passion for Mizzou, a strong track-record of success at each level of his career and a clear vision to mentor our student-athletes and lead our program to even greater heights."

In its search for a coach, Missouri had to deal with the possibility of Odom leaving for the head-coaching vacancy at Memphis, where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2012-14. Memphis announced Thursday evening it had hired a head coach, and multiple outlets reported it was Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell.

Multiple Missouri players vouched for Odom to be Rhoades' choice, both on Twitter and after the Tigers' season-ending loss at Arkansas. The hire appeared to be a popular one, as a video shared by the athletic department Thursday showed the team bursting into cheers after they were told Odom would be the next coach.

Many players expressed their approval of the hire on Twitter, including former Jefferson City Jay Joey Burkett.

"Excited to have @Coach_Odom as my coach!" tweeted Burkett, who played linebacker under Odom this season. "No one I would rather play for!"

Odom, a Maysville, Okla., native, played under Larry Smith at Missouri and recorded 362 tackles, seventh in school history. He spent a season as an assistant coach at Ada High School in Oklahoma, his alma mater, before returning to Columbia to coach Rock Bridge High School for two seasons - his only prior experience as a head coach.

Odom rejoined the Tigers in 2003 as an administrative graduate assistant, and held the roles of director of football recruiting, director of football operations and assistant athletic director before coaching Missouri's safeties from 2009-11.

Odom was not shy about sharing his career aspirations last month.

"I'm not afraid to say it. I've said it a number of times. I'm going to be a head coach," he said before Missouri's game at Arkansas. "Don't know when, don't know where, but yeah, that's what I want to do. I think every year you set goals on what you want to do, and from a career standpoint, you get into this business, and I want to be the best.

"I want to be the best coordinator there is and eventually someday I want to be the best head coach there is. And so I've always worked that way, that I want to be the best at what I'm doing, and that's not going to change now."

Odom takes the reins from Pinkel, who won 118-of-191 games in 15 seasons at Missouri. His Missouri teams reached 10 bowls, winning six. Five times under Pinkel, the Tigers won 10 games, something they had only done once before.

Odom's leadership style is considered to be in the same vein as Pinkel's, something the new hire considered a positive.

"I've been with Gary for so long, that would be a huge compliment," he said. "Because I respect him, I respect the program that he's built and the things that he's done in the course of 25 years as a head coach. Every time you're around someone that you respect and you have a chance to work with, you're going to adapt and bring some of those qualities with you.

"It would be foolish to say, whatever my next step is, that I wouldn't try to do some of the things that he's done."

Odom will be introduced as the team's head coach at noon today at Mizzou Arena.

Related media:

Missouri players react on social network sites to Odom's hire (via Storify)

Video of Mack Rhoades introducing Barry Odom as new Missouri football coach (via Mizzou Network)