Missouri reached the season's midpoint at 5-1, seemingly poised to increase its win total for the third consecutive year under coach Barry Odom. Seven weeks later, Odom is out of a job and the program is at a crossroads.
Odom guided his alma mater through a tough stretch, both for the university and for the program, which received a postseason ban after a tutor for several Missouri teams admitted to completing coursework for athletes. The ban was upheld earlier this week, drawing strong criticism from athletic director Jim Sterk and others.
But a 1-5 finish doomed Odom, who played at Missouri, began his career in recruiting and operations for the program, and spent all but three seasons as a college coach with his alma mater. Missouri was Odom's dream job, but the school opted to fire him Saturday after a 25-25 record (13-19 in SEC play). It didn't help that another AD (Mack Rhoades) hired Odom.
Assessing the Missouri job is a challenge, as the Tigers reached the SEC championship game in two of their first three seasons in the league but finished no higher than third in the East Division in four of the five other seasons they've been in the league. Although the East is the easier division to navigate, Missouri usually will be behind Georgia and Florida, and fighting with Tennessee and others to move up. Former coach Gary Pinkel's incredible run from 2007-14 -- five 10-win seasons, five top-20 finishes, two top-5 finishes -- will be tough to replicate.
Sterk didn't hire Odom and lacks long-term ties to the school or the region. His coaching hires at Washington State (Bill Doba, Paul Wulff) didn't pan out, although he wisely promoted Rocky Long to lead San Diego State's program. It's likely Odom's replacement will have a background on offense.
Here's a look at whom Missouri could consider to replace Odom.