The Missouri Tigers are in the market for a new defensive coordinator after Ryan Walters left for the same job on Bret Bielema’s Illinois staff.

Coach Eli Drinkwitz kept Walters and much of the defensive staff on board when he took over the Tigers program after the 2019 season.

After the Illini made Walters’ hiring official, Drinkwitz released a statement wishing his former assistant well:

“I’d like to wish Ryan, Tara and his family well as they begin a new chapter in his coaching journey,” Drinkwitz’s statement reads. “Ryan is a coach of great character, work ethic and leadership. We are grateful for his contributions to Mizzou and we wish him and his family well in the future. M-I-Z!”

Walters expressed his gratitude toward the Tigers, too, in a statement after being officially announced by Illinois:

“I’m thankful and grateful for the opportunity that Coach Bielema is giving me to coach with him at the University of Illinois,” Walters said in a statement released by Illinois. “Coach B is one of the most respected defensive minds in college football, and, as a young defensive coordinator, this is an opportunity I can’t pass up. Coach B has a proven track record of incredible success in the Big Ten, as well as his years working in the NFL, that will put our program in position to win at a high level. I appreciate the time and opportunity that I had at Missouri, but my family and I are looking forward to the new challenge in front of us as we build a championship football program.”

Can Walters help turn the Illinois program around under Bielema? If he can, he could be a head coach sooner rather than later.