University of Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel has tabbed former Mizzou player and coach Barry Odom to become his next defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, as announced Dec. 23rd. Odom, 38, will join the team after the first of the year, as he takes over for Dave Steckel, who will leave to be head coach at Missouri State following the conclusion of Mizzou’s season. Details of Odom’s contract are being finalized, and will be released when available.
Odom has been defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Memphis for the past three seasons, where he has orchestrated an impressive body of work by the Tiger defense. Memphis just concluded a 10-3 season that was fueled largely by Odom’s defense which ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense (17.1 ppg) and 22nd in total defense (343.3 ypg) heading into bowl season. That marked an astounding incremental improvement, as Memphis ranked 117th nationally in total defense in 2011 prior to Odom assuming the reins. In 2012, Odom’s first year, the Tiger defense improved to 50th nationally in total defense (383.6 ypg), followed by a jump to 39th in 2013 (370.7 ypg). Memphis earned a share of the 2014 American Athletic Conference title, giving them a conference championship for the first time since 1971.
It’s a homecoming for Odom as he returns to his alma mater, where he starred as a linebacker for Mizzou from 1996-99 and later returned for a nine-year stint (2003-11) in a variety of roles for Pinkel’s staff. He first came back in 2003 as an administrative graduate assistant, and after one year in that role, Odom moved to director of recruiting for the 2004 and 2005 seasons and then served three years (2006-08) as director of football operations.
In 2009, Odom moved to the coaching side of the ledger, as Pinkel’s safeties coach for three seasons where he developed Kenji Jackson, Jarrell Harrison and Jasper Simmons into All-Big 12 performers for Tiger teams which won 26 games in those three years. Odom also played a significant role in recruiting, as he was the lead on many highly-regarded prospects who chose to attend Mizzou.
“We’re really excited to have Barry and his family back at Mizzou,” said Head Coach Gary Pinkel. “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 five schools recently, so we feel very fortunate to have him with us,” Pinkel said.
“It goes without saying how excited I am to have this opportunity,” said Odom. “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. When you look nationally at winning percentage, APR, graduation rates, Mizzou is the total package and it’s absolutely one of the top football programs and athletic departments in the country. I’m excited to do my part to continue to add to that, and our family is excited to be part of it again,” he said.
“It’s always tough to leave a place that’s been as good to me as Memphis has, and I can’t thank Coach (Justin) Fuente enough for the opportunity he provided for me,” said Odom. “Being a part of this building process for the last three years has made me a better coach, and I’m proud to know that it’s in better shape now than what we came into,” he said.
Odom, a native of Maysville, Okla. who graduated from Ada High School, was a four-year letterman at linebacker for Mizzou from 1996-99. He was a key player on MU squads that went to bowl games in 1997 and 1998, and he ended his career ranked 5th on the school’s career tackles list, with 362 stops.
Odom graduated from MU in December of 1999, and served as a development intern for the Tiger Scholarship Fund, assisting with various fund raising projects for Tiger Athletics while earning his Master’s in education from MU. He returned to his home state of Oklahoma in July of 2000 to serve as an assistant coach for Ada High School, which finished that season as runners-up for a state championship.
Odom returned to Columbia in the spring of 2001 as head coach of Rock Bridge High School, and he quickly built the Bruins into a power, as they went 6-4 and won a conference championship that fall. He followed with an 8-4 campaign in 2002 that saw Rock Bridge reach the semifinals of the state championship playoffs.
Born Nov. 26, 1976 in Lawton, Okla., Odom and his wife, Tritia, were married in July of 2000. Tritia is a native of Kahoka, Mo., and is a graduate of MU’s College of Human Environmental Sciences. The couple has two sons – James Trump Odom and Garyt Robert.