Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel champions the player development within his program, often referred to with the tagline "Mizzou Made."
It’s fitting that the Tigers are going after a "Mizzou Made" coach to fill a key void at defensive coordinator, tabbing Memphis’ Barry Odom as the successor to outgoing defensive coordinator Dave Steckel.
The Tigers announced Tuesday morning that Odom, who spent the past three seasons at Memphis, will rejoin Missouri to replace Steckel, who accepted the Missouri State head coaching job. Odom is a Missouri grad who played for the Tigers from 1996-99 and spent nine years on the staff as an assistant (2003-11) in myriad roles before joining Memphis prior to the 2012 season.
Steckel will join Missouri State once Missouri completes its season in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Odom will join Missouri after Jan. 1.
Pinkel often aims for continuity and stability in his coaching staff (evidenced by the fact that five of his nine full-time assistants, including Steckel, have been on the staff with him since his Mizzou tenure began in 2001) so it makes sense that he would bring back a familiar face in Odom. That said, Odom is plenty qualified for the position based on his recent success at Memphis.
This season, Memphis ranks 10th nationally in scoring defense (19.5 points per game allowed), 12th in yards per play allowed (4.74), 20th in rushing (121.54 yards per game allowed) and was in the top 25 nationally for third-down conversion rate, red-zone efficiency and goal-to-go efficiency.
Sure, Memphis allowed 48 points to BYU in its 55-48 Miami Beach Bowl victory on Monday, but Odom’s unit came up with four turnovers, including the game-clinching interception in the second overtime. The work of Odom’s defense has been a key part of Memphis’ success as it went 10-3 this season and earned a share of the American Athletic Conference championship.
"We're really excited to have Barry and his family back at Mizzou," Pinkel said in a statement. "He's done an outstanding job at Memphis these past three years. He's coached with us before, and it's great to see someone professionally advance himself and go do such a great job elsewhere. I know he was sought after by several other Power 5 schools recently, so we feel very fortunate to have him with us."
Memphis ranked 117th nationally in total defense before Odom’s arrival in 2012. In his first season, Memphis jumped all the way to 50th in the national rankings. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Odom is the sixth full-time assistant to rejoin the Missouri staff.
"It goes without saying how excited I am to have this opportunity," Odom said in a statement. "I have such a deep respect for the success that Coach Pinkel and his staff have had since I've been away. Transitioning to a new conference is very challenging, and all they've done is get better at everything. ... I'm excited to do my part to continue to add to that, and our family is excited to be part of it again."
Steckel, who was Missouri’s defensive coordinator for six seasons, oversaw a defense that was a critical piece to the Tigers’ back-to-back SEC East Division championships the past two seasons. His unit ranked in the top 35 nationally in scoring defense each of the past two seasons, ranked in the top half of the SEC in most defensive statistical categories this season, and was a turnover machine in recent years. He left big shoes for Odom to fill, but the 38-year-old looks like a good fit for the job.