Missouri coach Barry Odom takes stage at SEC Media Days without a boss

Missouri coach Barry Odom speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Wednesday, July 13, 2016.
Missouri coach Barry Odom speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Wednesday, July 13, 2016. AP

Missouri coach Barry Odom had a long night the day before arriving in Hoover for his first go-around at SEC Media Days.

Odom spent the late hours on the phone with athletic director Mack Rhoades delievering the news he was planning on accepting the same job at Baylor.

“Mack and I got together last and had a long discussion,” Odom said. “He’s got an opportunity that he thought is best for him.”

Rivals reporter Gabe DeArmond, who covers Missouri, was the first to report Rhoades decision an hour before Odom was set to step onto the stage at the Wynfrey Hotel. Odom said he had no clue Rhoades was considering leaving the school before the telephone conversation the two had on Tuesday.

Rhoades stint in Missouri was memorable yet brief with the athletic director handling a football boycott, basketball sanctions and Gary Pinkel retiring during his lone year on the job.

“We have worked on a lot of things the last eight months together,” Odom said Wednesday referring to the tumultuous events.

Rhoades promoted the Tigers former defensive coordinator in December agreeing with a five-year deal to replace the university’s all-time winningest coach.

Odom, a former Missouri linebacker, spent nine years on Pinkel’s staff in various roles from 2003 to 2011. He returned for the 2015 seasons to coach the defense after three years as Memphis’ defensive coordinator.

“We had the opportunity to visit with a number of excellent coaches throughout our search,” Rhoades said in a statement announcing the hire. “At the conclusion of that process, Coach Odom was the clear choice to serve as our next coach. He is a man of high integrity and possesses all the qualities you look for in a successful head coach. He has an undeniable passion for Mizzou, a strong track-record of success at each level.”

Missouri is still hasn’t filled the vacancies left by chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and president Tim Wolfe, who both stepped down in November in response to student protests over race. Odom reaffirmed his commitment to the university despite the lack of leadership at the top.

“The things we have done the last eight months have set us up for the next 20 years,” Odom said. “The University of Missouri has been around since 1839. It’s going to be around a long, long time.”

Baylor officially announced the move while Odom was on the stage in the main ballroom at SEC Media Days. Rhoades also issued a short statement about his decision and will be introduced by the school on Monday. Missouri announced Wren Baker to serve as the school’s interim athletic director.

“I am very grateful to the people I’ve worked with and come to know throughout the state of Missouri. The experience has helped galvanized a commitment to my core values and to the values I want to infuse into an athletics program,” Rhoades said. “I look forward to the opportunity to join Baylor University at this important time in its history.”