Jim Sterk announces the firing

Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk announces the firing of football coach Barry Odom on Saturday in the Mizzou Arena media room.

The question of whether Barry Odom will be fired has been answered. He was. That means the search for his replacement is underway. How will that process work? That, and other questions need to be answered.

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about a team in transition:

What is Missouri doing to retain its recruiting commitments?

During his Saturday press conference, Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said the school wants a new head coach in place as soon as possible, in order to go to work on retaining MU’s current recruiting commitments.

In the meantime, interim head coach Brick Haley will be tasked with maintaining contact with Missouri’s 17 commits before the early signing period, between Dec. 18-20.

“(Haley will be) going to work on those commitments in place and we want to sign as many of those as we can,” Sterk said.

Not long after the news of Odom’s firing was announced, 3-star defensive end commit Robert Wooten announced he will reopen his recruitment, saying in a tweet that he loved “everything (Odom) was about.”

As part of the sanctions levied by the NCAA, Missouri will have to distribute a seven-week recruiting ban across the year. Sterk said the school will look into potentially using the period without a head coach as part of those seven weeks.

How did the current players find out about the news?

After the Arkansas game, most of the players had dispersed in order to spend time with their families before the team’s postseason banquet Sunday night. That made a team meeting impractical. As a result, Sterk said the players were told over the phone about Odom’s firing.

The news broke before Missouri’s official announcement, but Sterk said he tried to tell the players before word reached them through social media.

“We pulled them together and tried to beat anything out there on Twitter,” Sterk said. “Almost did but it was close.”

Sterk said he and the remaining assistant coaches will keep in communication with the current players, and begin to meet with them in smaller groups, in part to find out what they want in their next coach.

“We want to communicate with (the players) and coach Haley is doing that right now,” Sterk said.

Was poor attendance a factor in firing Odom?

When Sterk fired men’s basketball coach Kim Anderson in 2017, he said one of the reasons was because of lagging attendance. Regarding Odom, Sterk said it was a consideration, though not the ultimate deciding issue.

“It is a factor, and and we want to get attendance up and we want the entire state of Missouri excited about Mizzou football,” Sterk said.

With the construction of the new south end zone, Missouri reduced the capacity of Memorial Stadium from what it was in 2017. But ticket sales had been falling even before that, and Sterk said Saturday that Missouri needs between $5 and $6 million more in ticket sales to get back to where it was in 2014. Maybe a new coach is the solution to the ticket sale problems, but that will be an uphill battle.

“We’ve got work to do,” Sterk said. “The decision today is part of that and getting back to that level.”

Will Missouri use a hiring firm to find Odom’s replacement?

Sterk announced that Missouri is employing the services of Parker Executive Search, the same firm the school used to hire men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin.

In addition to Parker, Sterk said University of Missouri System president Mun Choi and MU chancellor Alexander Cartwright will be involved in the search for Odom’s replacement.

“We won’t have a huge, huge search committee, if you will,” Sterk said. “I’ll keep key individuals involved and informed but we’re going to try to move quickly.”

According to its website, Parker Executive Search is also trying to fill the head football coaching jobs at Texas A&M-Kingsville, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Camille McManus contributed to this report.

  • Liam Quinn is covering Missouri football. He is a senior from New Jersey studying magazine journalism.

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