With Missouri firing head coach Barry Odom on Saturday, here’s a look at who athletic director Jim Sterk could hire next. The general feel is that an offensive-minded and experienced head coach will be Sterk’s preference after Odom’s struggles. (Odom was a career assistant with a defensive background.)
1. Mike Norvell, Memphis – There’s some high cotton in the competition to lure Norvell from other schools. Could he have to decide which roster is a bigger mess? Missouri can’t compete with Florida State, which still looms as a potential Norvell destination. This will likely be his job to turn down.
2. Luke Fickell, Cincinnati – This would take Fickell out of his comfort zone, as he’s never lived outside of the state of Ohio. (Other than a brief stint playing in the NFL with New Orleans.) Fickell is more likely to end up in the Big Ten or wait out Notre Dame, but he’s worth a call for Missouri.
3. Bryan Harsin, Boise State – Harsin is another reach for Missouri who is worth a call. He’s won more than 79 percent of his games at Boise State, but he’s resisted multiple opportunities to leave his alma mater and hometown. Could an SEC gig with a chance to recruit familiar territory in Texas be enough?
4. Willie Fritz, Tulane – He’s led the Green Wave to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in a generation. His roots are much more Missouri than the Bayou, as he won 67 percent of his games in 13 seasons at Division II Central Missouri. (He left in 2009.) Fritz has won in high school, JUCO, Division II, FCS and two FBS stops. No reason that would stop.
5. Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State – He’s the hot name right now, with Appalachian State storming out to a 11-1 start and being ranked for much of the season. Drinkwitz brings the quarterback development and play-calling acumen that’s attractive to athletic directors. Is one year as a head coach enough?
6. Bill Clark, UAB – He’s indisputably done one of the finest coaching jobs in college football, reviving UAB from the brink of elimination to immediate competitiveness. His 11-3 season in 2018 was one of the best coaching jobs at any level in the last decade. The knock comes from his lack of experience in the SEC and outside the state of Alabama.
7. Jeff Monken, Army – His history of recruiting nationally at Army and four seasons at Georgia Southern give him some geographical resonance in SEC territory. Monken’s team has struggled relatively this season. But his turnaround job at Army – including back-to-back double-digit win seasons the last two years – is one of the best in the past decade in the sport. He’s an Illinois native, which helps him regionally.
8. Troy Calhoun, Air Force – He’s consistently won at one of the hardest jobs in the sport for more than a decade. Air Force jumped back to winning territory this season, starting 9-2 and giving Calhoun his chance for a third 10-win season there.
9. Billy Napier, Louisiana – He’s impressed with his ability to immediately get Louisiana back to the upper tier of the Sun Belt. His track record of being at both Clemson and Alabama would be attractive in the SEC.
10. Tony Elliott, Clemson OC – Could this be the job that lures Elliott out of the comforts of Clemson? He’s the top offensive assistant coach available and Missouri will be looking for some level of offensive punch.
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