Examining who could replace Barry Odom at Missouri
Missouri has fired Barry Odom, ending a four-year run as the program’s head coach. The Tigers finished the 2019 season with a victory over Arkansas to end the year with a 6-6 mark. Odom’s tenure began with a 4-8 record in 2016 but went 7-6 in ’17 and 8-5 in ’18. Missouri underachieved with a 6-6 mark and 3-5 mark in SEC play this season.
Who could replace Odom at Missouri? Here are 12 names to watch in the coaching search:
12 Coaching Candidates to Replace Barry Odom at Missouri
Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, Air Force
Calhoun’s name popped up for this job in 2015. He’s 96-69 at Air Force (his alma mater) and has just four losing seasons since 2007. The Falcons have eight bowl trips under Calhoun’s watch and won the 2015 Mountain West Mountain Division title. He also has experience from stops as an assistant from time at Wake Forest and Ohio and in the NFL with the Texans and Broncos.
Bill Clark, Head Coach, UAB
Clark seems entrenched at UAB, but Missouri would be wise to see if he’s interested in the job. The Alabama native had spent his entire coaching career in the state at the high school level or as South Alabama’s defensive coordinator (2008-12) before taking the head-coaching job at Jacksonville State in 2013. The Gamecocks went 11-4 and earned a trip to the FCS playoffs in Clark’s only year at the helm. UAB went 6-6 in Clark’s first season, but the program was disbanded from 2015-16. Clark rebuilt the program from scratch and guided the Blazers to a Conference USA title in 2018. UAB is 33-17 under Clark’s watch. UAB will have a shot at the C-USA West Division title with a win in Week 14.
Tony Elliott, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Elliott is due for an opportunity to run a Power 5 program. He’s worked at Clemson since 2011 and assumed the co-coordinator role after Chad Morris left to be the head coach at SMU. Elliott is the team’s play-caller and has been instrumental in the Tigers’ recent success.
Luke Fickell, Head Coach, Cincinnati
Fickell’s stock is on the rise with a 25-12 record since taking over at Cincinnati in 2017. Even more impressive, Fickell is 21-4 over the last two seasons, including an AAC East Division title this year. Fickell has extensive ties to the state of Ohio, as he played for the Buckeyes and later worked as an assistant coach in Columbus.
Willie Fritz, Head Coach, Tulane
Fritz has some ties to the state of Missouri after working as the head coach at Central Missouri from 1997-2009. He went 97-47 in that span and later went 40-15 at Sam Houston State from 2010-13 and 17-7 at Georgia Southern from 2014-15. Fritz has brought significant improvement to Tulane since taking over in 2016. After back-to-back losing seasons, Fritz is 13-11 over the last two years and is 176-95 overall as a head coach.
Alex Grinch, Defensive Coordinator, Oklahoma
Grinch is a name familiar to Missouri fans, as he worked as a graduate assistant with the program in 2002 and later as a defensive assistant from 2012-14. The Ohio native has never been a head coach but has assembled a strong resume from stops at Washington State (defensive coordinator), Ohio State (co-defensive coordinator), and Oklahoma (defensive coordinator). Grinch has brought improvement to the Sooners’ defense in 2019 and is a big reason why this team is in the mix to return to the College Football Playoff.
Will Healy, Head Coach, Charlotte
This might be too early for Healy, but his stock is on the rise after turning things around at Austin Peay in the FCS ranks from 2016-18 and leading Charlotte to a 6-5 mark in his debut this season. The Governors went 0-11 in Healy’s first year but went 13-10 over the last two seasons. And under Healy’s watch this fall, the 49ers are bowl eligible for the first time in program history.
Josh Heupel, Head Coach, UCF
Heupel has ties to the program, as he worked as Missouri’s offensive coordinator from 2016-17. The former Oklahoma quarterback is off to a strong start at UCF, going 21-4 over the last two years. He guided the Knights to a New Year’s Six bowl in 2018 and could win double-digit games with a victory in the bowl this year.
Lane Kiffin, Head Coach, FAU
Kiffin’s name has already popped up for the current opening at Arkansas. Could other programs (including Missouri) interview him after the 2019 season ends? Kiffin is 24-13 since taking over at FAU in 2017 and has the Owls on the cusp of winning Conference USA’s East Division. Prior to taking over in Boca Raton, Kiffin had a successful three-year run as Alabama’s offensive coordinator from 2014-16. Kiffin went 7-6 in his only season at Tennessee (2009) and finished 28-15 before his dismissal at USC during the 2013 season. Kiffin’s overall record as a coach is 59-34.
Mike Leach, Head Coach, Washington State
Leach has been mentioned as a potential candidate at Arkansas this offseason. It’s no secret Leach is one of college football’s top minds on offense and has a track record of success from stints at Texas Tech and Washington State. He went 84-43 at Texas Tech from 2000-09 and is 55-46 with the Cougars since 2012.
Billy Napier, Head Coach, Louisiana
Napier is a coach on the rise since taking over at Louisiana in 2018. He’s 16-9 over the last two years and has guided the Ragin' Cajuns to back-to-back Sun Belt West Division titles. Napier previously as an assistant at Clemson (under Dabo Swinney), Alabama (under Nick Saban), Arizona State, and Colorado State.
Mike Norvell, Head Coach, Memphis
Norvell’s name has popped up for openings at Arkansas and Florida State and could be mentioned for this opening. He’s 24-8 since taking over at Memphis in 2016. The Tigers have won three consecutive AAC West Division titles and sit in the driver’s seat to win a trip to a New Year’s Six bowl in 2019.