Missouri closes season with win over Arkansas but many questions remain

It wasn’t pretty or particularly enjoyable to watch but Missouri was able to outscore rival Arkansas 14-7 in the second half to notch its fourth consecutive win in the Battle Line rivalry.

Winning is a feeling that Missouri had not encountered since October 12th and the win over Arkansas did allow the team to limp to a 6-6 season (which would make them bowl eligible for the the third straight season but NCAA sanctions will disallow that).

Obviously this win did little to lessen the blow of the five straight losses that occurred between October 19 and November 23rd. Beating Arkansas, one of the worst Power 5 teams in the country and a team down to its fifth quarterback of the season, does not exactly inspire supreme confidence going forward.

The end of the line for Barry Odom?

Regardless of today’s outcome, many are fairly questioning whether or not Barry Odom should return for a fifth season in 2020. Odom’s current record at Mizzou sits at a dead-even 25-25 after four seasons. His four total wins against Power 5 schools with winning records and unfathomable losses to the likes of Wyoming, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee etc. could be an indicator that a change is needed.

Odom currently is hanging by a thread due to hot finishes in 2017 and 2018 despite winning only one game against a ranked team during that time (at Florida in November of 2018) . Fan apathy, mediocre recruiting and now, an insanely disappointing season are certainly going to be brought to the attention of A.D. Jim Sterk in the next 24 hours as a decision looms.

The numbers game

Schools, like Missouri, that are currently operating a deficit are typically not in a position to fire a coach and hit a home run with his replacement. Missouri will miss out on approx 8 million in bowl revenue due to its postseason ban and recruiting restrictions could be difficult to overcome for a new coach looking to make an impact early on. Can Sterk find the money to buy out the current staff and make a splash of a hire? These factors will, undoubtedly, go into the decision as early indicators appeared to lean towards Odom’s firing as early as this past weekend.

For now, Mizzou fans will have to play the waiting game and cling to a 10-point win over Arkansas (perhaps only second to Rutgers as the worst team in all of Power 5) as the lone positive on the table currently. Promising freshman QB Connor Bazelak went down in the second quarter of the game with an apparent knee injury which brings into doubt one of the only potential bright spots heading in to 2020.

The bottom line

Option 1– You bring Odom back following a disappoint season and allow him to continue to build his program. You will likely see a bevy of empty seats at Faurot Field next season due to the way the 2019 season ended as well as a less-than-inspiring home schedule and the casual fan won’t give the team a chance unless they get off to some crazy hot start.

Option 2– You move on from Odom and take the risk of making a change that will do further damage to a program that can’t incur any further damage. The fanbase may like the change and show up to support the team a little bit more as a result but you are basically starting over likely with an unproven coach from a smaller FBS school. Maybe you get it right and the next coach can be more consistent and get the program back to competing for SEC East titles, but it’s still a huge risk.

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Author: Clint Switzer

Full-time sports fan, part-time contributor to society. GASN Sports co-founder, podcast host, filmmaker and writer.

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