How Barry Odom coached his way onto the hot seat
On Oct. 8, 2009, I stood in an absolute downpour at Faurot Field as No. 24 Missouri built up a 12-0 lead over No. 21 Nebraska through three quarters.
Much to my horror, I then watched as QB Blaine Gabbert (injured earlier in the game after a sack by Ndamukong Suh) and the Tigers coughed up that advantage by giving up 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to lose 27-12.
Walking back to my dorm room in the still unrelenting rain along with my equally drenched friends, I thought for sure that would be the low point of my Mizzou football experience (the Tigers lost their next two games in blowout fashion for good measure, too).
I was wrong, however, as Saturday’s 35-3 home loss to Purdue was much, much worse.
Let’s be clear: The Boilermakers are good this year, as coach Jeff Brohm has turned the program around in only his first year at the helm.
However, in his second year as Mizzou’s head coach, Barry Odom’s Tigers have taken a huge step backward, and Saturday’s embarrassment was a new low point for his short tenure.
Heading into the season, I was adamant that Odom would at least get a third year as the Tigers’ head coach, even if the team was to finish with another disappointing 4-8 or 5-7 record.
But after watching what transpired Saturday, I’m not so sure Mizzou AD Jim Sterk will put up with many more efforts like that.
Odom still has time to turn things around this year, but it’s safe to say that his seat just got a whole lot hotter after the lifeless blowout.
Here’s a look at how Odom coached his way onto the hot seat against the Boilermakers:
Late in the first half, the Tigers were already in a big hole but were showing signs of life offensively, moving the ball deep into Purdue territory as halftime approached.
A 17-yard pass to WR Dimetrios Mason brought the Tigers to the Purdue 12-yard line with 12 seconds left, but instead of using one of the team’s two remaining timeouts, Odom watched as four seconds ran off the clock before the ball was snapped again.
The next play — an incompletion — took four more seconds off the clock, forcing Mizzou to kick a field goal instead of taking another shot at the end zone.
Taking a timeout in that situation is a no-brainer, but for some reason, Odom chose not to use one. Good coaches don’t make that mistake, and with all the other heat Odom has been taking lately, one he couldn’t afford to let happen to him.
The Tigers gave up on their coach
As the old saying goes, “You can’t win ’em all,” but usually teams play hard to the final whistle even when trailing big. On Saturday afternoon, the Tigers certainly did not do that.
One particular play comes to mind that proves my above point, and it happened late in the fourth quarter.
WR J’Mon Moore, a senior, it should be noted, gets behind the Purdue defender and QB Drew Lock hits him with a pinpoint pass in the end zone. Somehow, though, the ball ends up in the Purdue player’s hands for an interception:
— Adam Spencer (@AdamSpencer4) September 17, 2017
Would that touchdown have made a difference? No, but it’s about pride and heart and that play shows that Moore simply didn’t want to fight for the ball.
Moore certainly wasn’t the only one who didn’t give full effort as the game got out of hand, but that play was the perfect encapsulation of Mizzou’s performance and not a good sign for Odom’s standing with his players.
A huge step back defensively
Following last week’s 31-13 loss to South Carolina, Odom decided to fire defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross. He had already taken over calling plays, so it shouldn’t have been too much of a change, in theory.
However, Odom’s defense didn’t look so good Saturday, giving up 477 yards to the Boilermakers (a very-balanced 272 passing yards and 205 rushing yards).
It’s always important to note when criticizing the Missouri defense that the Tigers once again were crushed in time of possession, spending 43:43 playing defense while getting only 16:17 on offense.
Still, it wasn’t like the Boilermakers wore down Odom’s defense — quite the opposite, in fact. Purdue scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and four of its first six drives.
So, if anything, the Mizzou defense actually got better as the game wore on. That means the Tigers weren’t adequately prepared coming into Saturday’s important contest, which falls entirely on Odom’s shoulders.
As more fans start calling for Odom’s job on social media, it’ll be tough for him to turn the tide back in his favor.
Moving forward, the schedule doesn’t do the Tigers any favors, either. What appeared to be winnable games at Kentucky and at Vanderbilt now look more difficult after hot starts by both teams, and Mizzou still has games at Georgia and at home against Auburn, Florida and Tennessee remaining.
Odom needs to pull off at least a couple of upsets along the way to avoid what could end up being a 2-10 season (or worse) if things don’t start improving quickly.