Mizzou football: 5 candidates Tigers should consider to replace Barry Odom
The Missouri Tigers fired coach Barry Odom on Saturday morning, ending his 4-year run. He finished 25-25, but a look inside that record shows that things were even worse.
Odom went 13-19 in SEC play and 0-2 in bowl games. He had 3 separate losing streaks of 5 games and, perhaps the worst number of all, he went 3-22 against teams that finished the season with a winning record.
In his statement about the decision to fire Odom, Mizzou AD Jim Sterk said the Tigers have “the necessary resources and commitment to compete at the highest level.” Now, we’ll see if he can back that up.
Mizzou’s biggest problem under Odom has been an inability to recruit at a high level. So, when putting together a list of potential candidates, a big personality should be at the top of the qualifications.
Here are a few names the Tigers should consider as they search for Odom’s replacement:
1. Lane Kiffin
I know Kiffin is a very controversial figure in SEC circles, based on his past at Tennessee and how he left Alabama (also with how much attention he gets from the media). However, he’s a solid coach and a great offensive mind.
He’s also a big personality who can recruit at a high level, which is something Mizzou has struggled with under Odom, frequently turning in subpar recruiting classes.
In Kiffin’s first year at Florida Atlantic, he led the Owls to an 11-3 record, a Conference USA title and a bowl victory. He lost OC Kendal Briles to Florida State after that 2017 season, and last year was rougher for the Owls. However, they’re back in a bowl game this year, so Kiffin clearly knows how to coach.
Also, depending on who Florida State hires to replace Willie Taggart, Briles could be searching for a job again, too. Mizzou could hire Kiffin and Briles, hoping they can recapture their 2017 magic, when FAU finished with the No. 8 scoring offense in the country, averaging 40.6 points per game.
2. Mike Leach
Leach almost took the Tennessee job a couple of years ago, before AD John Currie was fired and the search took on an even more bizarre quality. And, after yet another loss in the Apple Cup to Washington on Friday, he might be ready for something different.
That sounds like a guy who is ready for a change, and Mizzou should make a call. Leach made nearly $4 million at Washington State this season, so Mizzou would have to pony up some cash to make him come to Columbia, but that would prove that Sterk is serious about winning.
As a great offensive mind with a big personality, Leach is about as opposite as it gets from Odom in the college coaching world.
3. Willie Fritz
Mizzou fans might be afraid to hire another former Central Missouri coach after the Kim Anderson years in men’s basketball, but Fritz has had success at Tulane, making the jump to Missouri a little less intense.
Fritz has gotten Tulane bowl-eligible each of the past 2 seasons, which is no easy task at Tulane. This year will be the 4th bowl game the Green Wave have played in since 2000.
In 13 years at Central Missouri, Fritz went 97-47 with a conference title. That long stint in Missouri means he knows the lay of the land and could potentially have success keeping some of the top in-state prospects home.
4. Bill Clark
Clark has quietly been doing some great work at UAB. Since the Blazers re-established a football program in 2017, Clark has won 8 games, 11 games and (currently) 8 games this season. That’s impressive.
Plus, he has major ties in Alabama and elsewhere across the SEC recruiting footprint. That’s something the Tigers could use as they continue to try to establish themselves in the SEC.
5. Will Healy
Healy is only in his first year at Charlotte, but he has the 49ers bowl-eligible for the first time (and he had a fantastic celebration in response to win No. 6). He’s only 34, so perhaps he’s still a bit young for an SEC job, but this would be an interesting move for Mizzou.
P.J. Fleck was about the same age when he was hired by Minnesota, and that has turned out really well for the Golden Gophers. Healy has a similar passion and energy to his coaching style and might provide a breath of fresh air in Columbia.
Where will the Tigers go from here? That remains to be seen, but it’s fair to consider that the Tigers could make a splash, as the job is seemingly more stable than either Arkansas or Florida State at this point. This will be an interesting search to follow.