(Photo by Bob Haynes/Star-Telegram)
As soon as Barry Odom got hired as head coach on December 3rd, he quickly got to work on retaining some of the old coaching staff, and clearing room for his own guys.
Safeties coach Ryan Walters, QB coach now WR coach Andy Hill, and CB coach now RB coach Cornell Ford are all holdovers from Gary Pinkel’s staff. The two biggest positions, offensive and defensive coordinator, weren’t chosen until the past two days.
It was expected since Odom got the job that he would hire Utah State offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, and Missouri announced just that on Thursday afternoon.
The defensive coordinator didn’t have nearly as much speculation as the offensive coordinator did, because let’s face it: Barry Odom is now the CEO of the Missouri program, but he will have his hands in some capacity, whether major or minor.
The job is going to TCU co-defensive coordinator and TrueSon of Missouri DeMontie Cross. In my estimation, Barry Odom hit this one out of the park.
Heupel is more than a solid choice to run the offense, as his Utah State Aggies averaged over 30 points per game this past fall, and that was largely without their stud QB Chuckie Keaton.
Before that, Heupel was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, where he was a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2000. Under his tuitalige as the QB coach Jason White and Sam Bradford won the award he came so close to winning. In addition to that, he sent Landry Jones to the NFL.
I’ll write a more in-depth feature in the weeks to come, but the marriage between Heupel and Drew Lock could be a match made in Heaven.
As far as Cross is concerned, this was an excellent choice by Odom. Cross played safety at Missouri from 1994-96, and still ranks as the Tigers all-time leading tackler with 415.
Now the co-DC at TCU, his Horned Frog defense ranks in the top half of the Big 12 in scoring defense, something that does come at a premium in that conference.
He’s an innovative, young mind that still can learn a lot. I think Odom can help bring him along with having his hands on the defense as well. What maybe the most important attribute he can bring right away is the ability to recruit the St. Louis area.
He himself is a St. Louis native and graduated from Hazelwood East back in the early ’90s. It’s no secret Missouri has a tough time recruiting that area as top recruits like CBC’s Tre Bryant, Chaminade’s Roderick Campbell, and Lafayette’s Brandon Scales are all set to play their college ball elsewhere, and that’s just this year.
This may seriously come into play come 2018, where the area is just going to be absolutely loaded with top-end talent.
Now that Odom took care of the head coaches on both sides of the ball, he still has to find defensive line coach, as Kuligowski is all but gone, and an offensive line coach. Those could very well be heavily influenced or chosen by Heupel and Cross.
The main trend to take away from these hires are, Missouri is going for younger, sharper football minds. Barry Odom is a young coach and if all works out this core can stay together to make Missouri a top-notch job in the SEC.