What's next for Mizzou assistants?
As Missouri prepares for what could be the final two games of the Gary Pinkel era, depending on whether or not the Tigers make it to a bowl, the Mizzou assistants find themselves in the unenviable position of not only working hard to game plan, but also wondering about their future when the season ends.
Pinkel’s announcement that he would retire for health reasons at season’s end came as a surprise and disappointment for just about everyone associated with the Tigers, but for the assistant coaches it likely means uprooting their families and moving on to new schools when this season ends.
One possible exception might be if a current assistant is picked to replace Pinkel as head coach. The most likely candidate would appear to be Barry Odom, the defensive coordinator who has turned the Tigers into one of the toughest teams in the nation to score against. Odom is in just his first season at Mizzou but is the hottest prospect in terms of landing a head coaching job.
One major benefit to keeping Odom on would be possibly keeping the continuity of the staff, which has gotten into a groove recruiting and could help ease the transition for players and everyone else involved.
But of course, it’s at least equally likely Missouri looks outside the program, and in that case one of the hottest candidates around is Memphis coach Justin Fuente. Fuente, after back-to-back outstanding seasons at Memphis, will likely be a name tossed around in regards to just about all of the many Power 5 conference jobs opening this offseason, but Mizzou would make a certain level of sense for Fuente.
His background as an Oklahoma native and former TCU assistant gives him credibility in Texas recruiting circles, and with his success at Memphis he’s become a household name in the traditional SEC footprint.
When a new coach comes in, it’s not uncommon to keep on at least one or two assistants from the previous staff to aid in the transition and provide some insight into the ins and outs of the program and the area. It stands to reason that Odom, who was an assistant at Memphis before taking the job at Mizzou this year, would be a potential candidate to stay on, which would be a great coup for the Tigers.
It’s also quite possible that if Fuente leaves Memphis, Odom gets a look at the head coach job there.
But what about other Missouri assistants? Some, such as quarterback coach Andy Hill, have been at Mizzou longer than even Pinkel. Hill is a Missouri alumnus and native of nearby Trenton, Mo., and is in his 18th year on the Tigers’ staff.
Hill has coached a variety of positions in his time in Columbia, notably having much success with wide receivers during much of Pinkel’s tenure. However, his transition to quarterback coach hasn’t gone smoothly with both Maty Mauk and Drew Lock struggling mightily this season.
What becomes of longtime Mizzou assistants such as Hill, not to mention the hot commodities such as Odom, will be one of the intriguing side plots as the Tigers enter the coaching carousel season for the first time in nearly 15 years.