Especially when things get sideways. Seemingly every hour, more news comes about about how Barry Odom and Jim Sterk’s relationship deteriorated, or some Board of Curators members reacting to top coaching candidates like an underwhelming fireworks display, or the latest names surging to the front of the target list.
Of course, the entire experience plays out in the glorious crazytown trash heap of Twitter, where you can bend the facts to fit your narrative, or make up your own facts, like the people saying Barry Odom had the most wins through four seasons of any coach Missouri has had. Shoutout to Warren Powers, who actually holds that distinction, starting his career with a win at No. 5 Notre Dame, beating Joe Montana.
And even that fake stat lacks context. Teams play more games now and an FCS opponent every year. Nonconference schedules were much, much tougher 30 years ago than now. Missouri’s nonconference schedules in the 1970s and 1980s were designed to test the team and fill Faurot Field, not pad coaches’ win records. Not to mention the state of the program changes.
Sterk could’ve given Odom another year, but Odom went 4-23 against FBS teams with winning records, and one of those four was Eastern Michigan. A lot of coaches you’ve heard in connection with the Missouri job could manage that.
Odom did a nice job providing some stability after the chaos of 2015, but now the focus is on what’s next.
Good luck guessing. Blake Anderson at Arkansas State sounds like a front runner. I have no doubt Anderson could’ve gone 6-6 with this Missouri team against this schedule, maybe even better.
But here is where Sterk needs to call in a degenerate like me, and the hordes of college football addicts like me. Those of us who watch Mountain West games on ESPNU late at night when we can’t get enough, or check out Sun Belt football games on random Tuesdays.
What I’m getting at is again we can’t just look at total wins. Arkansas State is sort of a Cadillac Sun Belt job, for what that’s worth. The program was at or near the top of the conference when Anderson took over, and he’s largely kept it running pretty well, even if the Sun Belt now orbits around Appalachian State and Louisiana.
But then take a look at Jay Norvell, who is on the rise at Nevada. Winning seasons at Nevada in the Mountain West are a bigger feat than winning at Arkansas State in the Sun Belt. Don’t look at Norvell’s overall record, look at how he took a losing program in a challenging non-power conference and made it a winner. Or, listen to the professional handicappers who say betting on Nevada is usually a good idea because of their coach. (Full disclosure, I heard such advice and won an “over” bet on Nevada’s win total last year. And bear in mind I’m not a very good gambler.) Norvell has also recruited the St. Louis area successfully, and served on the staffs at Nebraska and Oklahoma, so you’d think he’s at least generally familiar with Missouri. He’s also relatively affordable, and if you could pry him away from the wonderland of Reno, you’d think he’d be interested in an SEC head coaching job.
If you’re not sold, we’ve got options. Consider Will Healy, Charlotte’s head coach, a high energy coaching prospect on the rise, seen dancing shirtless in locker rooms and telling his players that no team will ever have as much fun on a bowl trip as his team will at the Bahamas Bowl. Sure, he doesn’t have a lot of experience, but given Missouri’s station in the college football pecking order, it pays to strike early. They need to gamble and buy stocks early and low to get some payoff. When you’re not the most handsome college football program in the bar, it pays to move early and pick up the attractive coach before the better looking programs show up asking about said coach.
Another name out there is Skip Holtz, who has a decent resume and has won all five bowl games at Louisiana Tech, if you’re into that. His last name is famous in college football; his first name would be a guiding light for Mizzou students deciding whether to go to that morning class.
We’ve also got option coach candidates, like Willie Fritz, the clever Tulane coach, or Army’s Jeff Monken. They satisfy the “if you can’t beat Georgia, at least cut block them into oblivion and knee injuries with an option offense for some measure of satisfaction” quotient.
If you’d like to engage in some hopeless dreaming, there is Memphis’ Mike Norvell or Boise State’s Bryan Harsin. If you just want to be entertained, and you like hopeless dreaming, consider Washington State’s Mike Leach or FAU’s Lane Kiffin.
Or, if you like a up-and-comer coach who seems to be doing the impossible feat of building a winner at Hawaii, thousands of miles from recruits, take a look at Nick Rolovich. He also has the endearing habit of bringing various entertainment acts to the conference media days. One year he brought a Britney Spears impersonator, who went right up to the decidedly buttoned-down Mountain West Conference commissioner and announced, “It’s Britney, bitch.”
So I guess it’s settled, we’re going to get Nick Rolovich… to leave Hawaii… and come to Missouri… in December.
Okay, back to the drawing board.