Sources: Missouri finalizing deal to hire Eli Drinkwitz as head coach

Eliah Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri's next head football coach and a deal is being finalized, sources told ESPN.

Drinkwitz guided Appalachian State to a 12-1 record and the Sun Belt Conference championship this season in his first year as a head coach.

Sources said Missouri officials met with Drinkwitz in Boone, North Carolina, on Saturday night, hours after Appalachian State defeated Louisiana 45-38 in the Sun Belt championship game.

Once his deal is complete, the 36-year-old Drinkwitz will become the second-youngest coach of a Power 5 school, after Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley, who's five months younger.

Drinkwitz will replace Barry Odom, whom Missouri fired after the Tigers lost five of their final six games to finish the season 6-6. Odom compiled a 25-25 record in four seasons.

Missouri will not be playing in a bowl game after the NCAA last month upheld a postseason ban after a tutor for several Missouri teams admitted to completing coursework for athletes. The same case will force Drinkwitz to open his tenure with scholarship and recruiting restrictions.

Appalachian State had given Drinkwitz a five-year contract a year ago, when the school hired him to replace Scott Satterfield, who left to become Louisville's coach.

The deal earned him $750,000 this past season plus considerable performance incentives. The contract states that he will owe $425,000 for each year remaining if he leaves for another job, meaning a buyout of $1.7 million will be due to Appalachian State.

Under Drinkwitz, the Mountaineers set a Sun Belt record with 11 regular-season victories. They were the only FBS team to have a 6-0 road record, including wins at North Carolina and South Carolina. They finished ranked No. 20 in both the College Football Playoff rankings and AP Poll. Their only loss came in a 24-21 defeat to Georgia Southern on Oct. 31.

"We're very excited about what we're doing at App State,'' Drinkwitz said after the Sun Belt title game, "but at the same time every opportunity, you know, I owe it to the family -- my family -- for my family to see what's something that we're interested in. But I'm not in any hurry to leave. I feel strongly that we're building something special here.''

Drinkwitz coached at two Arkansas high schools, including Springdale High, where current Auburn coach Gus Malzahn once coached. He worked as Arkansas State's running backs coach under Malzahn in 2012 and was the Red Wolves' co-offensive coordinator the next season.

Drinkwitz then worked as tight ends and quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator at Boise State in 2014-15 and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at NC State from 2016 to '18.

Reports had linked Missouri to a series of candidates that included Army's Jeff Monken, Louisiana Tech's Skip Holtz and Arkansas State's Blake Anderson. Drinkwitz was also being pursued by SEC rival Arkansas for its vacancy, before the Razorbacks announced the hiring of Georgia assistant Sam Pittman on Sunday.

Appalachian State plays UAB in the R+L Carriers Bowl on Dec. 21 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.