FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Head coach Sam Pittman has named his defensive coordinator, picking former Missouri head coach Barry Odom to lead the Razorbacks’ defense.
Odom heads to the Hill after spending the last four years at his alma mater, leading the Tigers to a pair of bowl games and finishing the 2018 regular season ranked 23rd in the College Football Playoff poll. Odom’s Missouri teams were known for their stout defenses thanks to his prowess on that side of the ball. The Tigers ended the 2019 regular season as one of the nation’s top defenses, ranking 14th in the country in total defense (312.0 ypg) and third in the Southeastern Conference. His defense also did not allow many points this past fall, giving up just 19.4 points per game to rank 17th in FBS. The defense was particularly strong against the pass, ranking seventh in the nation and second in the SEC with just 179.3 yards per game allowed. Linebacker Nick Bolton led the way, earning first-team All-SEC and leading the SEC with 107 total tackles.
He became just the fourth coach in Missouri history to lead the Tigers to a bowl game in two of his first three seasons when Mizzou earned a berth in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in 2018. That Tiger team finished strong for the second year in a row, going 4-0 in November including a 38-17 win at No. 11 Florida that was Missouri’s largest road win over a ranked opponent since 2008. His 2017 team won six-straight to finish 7-5 in the regular season and earn a trip to the Academy Sports + Outdoor Texas Bowl. That season saw Odom turn the program around after starting 0-4 in SEC play, winning the next four league games to become the first SEC team to start conference play 0-4 and finish 4-4.
Odom returned to Missouri in 2015 as the program’s defensive coordinator and produced immediately with the Tigers ranking ninth nationally in total defense, allowing just 302.0 yards per game. That defense became the first Mizzou defense to rank inside the nation’s Top 10 since the NCAA started keeping defensive stats in 1978. The same defense ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense (16.2 ppg) & pass defense (169.2 ypg) and second in tackles for loss (8.8 per game).
The Maysville, Oklahoma, native took over his first defensive coordinator duties at Memphis in 2012. In three years with the Tigers, he transformed Memphis into a defensive power. In 2014, his defense ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense (17.1 ppg) and 22nd nationally in total defense (343.3 ypg) to help Memphis go 10-3. That season marked an incredible turnaround for the Tigers’ defense that ranked 117th nationally prior to his arrival. Memphis improved defensively each year under Odom rising from 50th nationally in total defense (383.6 ypg) in 2012 to 39th (370.7 ypg) in 2013 to 22nd in his final year.
Odom’s Missouri roots run deep having starred as a linebacker for the Tigers 1996-99, including a pair of teams that earned trips to bowl games (1997, 1998). He ended his career with 362 tackles and a spot inside the school’s Top 10 all time. He also served as a team captain as a senior in 1999. Following graduation, he worked for the Tiger Scholarship Fund while working on his Master’s in Education. After a brief three-year stint as a high school coach – first at his alma mater Ada (Okla.) HS as an assistant then as a head coach for two years at Rock Bridge HS in Columbia, Missouri – he returned to Missouri as a graduate assistant in 2003. He began his climb in the organization a year later when then head coach Gary Pinkel promoted him to Director of Football Recruiting. After two years, Pinkel again promoted Odom making him the Director of Football Operations in 2006. He moved back onto the field in 2009 when he took over the Tigers’ safeties for three seasons before heading to Memphis.
Odom and his wife Tritia have three children – sons, James Trump and Garyt Robert, and daughter, Anna Lockwood.