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Nothing New for Mizzou

By Matt Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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Not coincidentally, the Tigers first head coaching hire in a decade-and-a-half came from within the program in the form of longtime assistant coach Barry Odom.

When you play in college football’s toughest conference and you aren’t a program known for its recruiting dominance, you have no choice but to take a slightly different approach to winning football games.

For the University of Missouri, the key to finding success in the Southeastern Conference has all come down to one word: Stability.

For the better part of two decades, the Tigers were one of the most stable programs in the nation. Gary Pinkel served as the team’s head coach for 15 seasons, becoming one of the longest-tenured coaches in the FBS.

Simultaneously, the Tigers also made it a point of emphasis to attempt to, as best as possible, maintain continuity within the entire coaching staff.

That decision to strive for maximum continuity on the coaching staff very well could pay dividends for Missouri this fall, as the Tigers are turning to a new head coach for the first time since prior to the start of the 2001 campaign.

Not coincidentally, the Tigers first head coaching hire in a decade-and-a-half came from within the program in the form of longtime assistant coach Barry Odom.

A former linebacker for Missouri during the program’s days in the Big 12 Conference, Odom was one the staff in Columbia for ten of Pinkel’s 15 seasons at the institution. He served in various capacities during that time, most notably as defensive coordinator during last season.

Having spent over a decade within the program in a coaching role, Odom is obviously intimately familiar with the principles that made Missouri so successful under the direction of Pinkel.

And while he will naturally put his own twist on things now that he is the man in charge, the Missouri players say that they haven’t noticed too much of a difference in how things are being run since Odom took over.

“Coach Odom taking over was pretty smooth,” junior defensive end Charles Harris commented at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama. “There has not been that much of a difference. He has been coaching us as who we are, as individuals and as a team. Our identities are still there, we just have some position changes.”

If anything, perhaps that biggest difference between Odom and Pinkel up to this point doesn’t have as much to do with philosophies or organization as it does with personality.

“I think the main difference you see is Coach Pinkel kind of interacted with the coaches and coached them how to coach us. He was quiet when it came to practice and other things. Coach Odom is a very passionate guy,” stated junior linebacker Michael Scherer. “He’s been coaching on the field for a very long time and he can’t get over not still doing that. You’ll see him running around the practice field at different positions. He’s very involved when the time comes when it’s needed. He is just a very passionate guy and you can see it on the practice field every day.”

Of course, the decision to, more or less, maintain the status quo was a simple one for Odom as he became a head coach at the collegiate level for the first time. Pinkel leaves Columbia as the program’s leader in head coaching wins, and he was always widely respected as one of the best coaches across the country.

Having the luxury of seeing Pinkel’s success up close and personal, Odom developed an admiration for what he was able to accomplish during his time with the Tigers.

“He had such great success,” Odom said of his former boss. “The things I admired about him were his consistency and his ability to recruit and develop kids. We’re going to maintain a lot of the structure that he had, but we are going to do a few new things as well.”

Coaching changes are usually tumultuous because of the inherent changes that take place from one regime to the next.

In the case of Missouri, however, things feel about the same around the program even with the absence of the team’s most accomplished coach in history.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at matt@southernpigskin.com.