HOOVER, Ala. — News of Mack Rhoades’ departure shocked Missouri fans on Wednesday afternoon, but coach Barry Odom didn’t have much of a heads up, either.
The new Tigers coach learned of his (now former) athletic director’s plans on Tuesday night, the eve of Odom’s SEC Media Days debut.
“I found out last night and didn’t have any clue before then,” said Odom, who didn’t acknowledge the move in his opening monologue, but spoke on it in response to specific questions about Rhoades. “I respect Mack calling me and having the conversation.”
Rhoades is headed to Baylor, and Odom is now left without several key areas of full-time university leadership: president, chancellor and athletic director. Oh, and he’s tasked with improving a 5-7 football team that few pundits expect to make a bowl game.
When a new athletic director is hired, he or she will be the third in fewer than two years. And with several stadium and facility-related projects planned, such turnover has thrown a wrench in the progress — although Odom put a positive spin on it Wednesday.
“If it gets held up because of this, it won’t be for long because the plan that’s in place that I’ve set with (Rhoades) over the last couple of months, we spent a lot of time on getting things ready to go,” Odom said. “And so obviously out of respect on who the new hire will be, we’ll get that okay, and then (get) excited about building some facilities at Mizzou that leads us into the next 15 years of great success.”
Odom was collected throughout his lengthy interview session, giving Missouri fans as many optimistic messages as he could.
“I absolutely know that we’ll get a great director of athletics in there and the things that we’ve done in the last eight months are going to set us up for the next 20 years,” Odom said. “And University of Missouri’s been around since 1839, and it’s going to be around a long, long time.”