Missouri fans are anxious to see what the new Tigers football product looks like this fall.
And while they may not be sure of what to expect from the Tigers on the field, they know exactly where they stand with new head coach Barry Odom.
After 15 seasons with Gary Pinkel in charge, the last of which was clouded by a struggling offense and on-campus unrest, the Missouri program has spent the last several months attempting to create a new identity.
Odom, who played for the Tigers and served as an assistant coach on Pinkel’s staff, has done his part in assuring the fan base that he’s up to the task of working through the race-related issues that nearly caused the football team to boycott a game last season.
“There’s always going to be issues,” Odom said in a recent feature by USA Today’s Dan Wolken. “In life, you have issues. As a family, you have issues. I’m going to hit those head on. I’m not going to backpedal or run from it. Let’s go get better and find a way to make Missouri the best university and athletic program in the country and that takes work. I’m taking a lot of ownership in getting that done. It’s got to happen.”
No matter where you stand on what went down last fall, those are reassuring words from a man that seems determined to make some progress.
Odom also addressed the challenges of making changes to a program that experienced a great deal of success, including back-to-back SEC East championships, in the not-so-distant past.
“There has been some challenges with that because I’ve said a million times I have such great respect for Gary and what he did,” Odom told Wolken. “I’m going to do some of the things he did as a program, but there’s things we’re doing differently. We’re not just wiping the calendar clean and putting a new date on it and saying this is what we’re doing because it’s been done this way for 15 years.”
Odom has done his best to win the offseason with the Tigers, but the real test will be how his team performs on the field this fall.
While the Tigers return Drew Lock at quarterback, they are in the midst of a major overhaul on the offensive line and must find a way to replace tackle-leader Kentrell Brothers at linebacker.
Coming off a five-win season in 2015, the bar for success in 2016 is likely to be set right around the six-win mark, which would earn the Tigers a return to postseason play.