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July 18, 2018

Barry Odom

Atlanta, Georgia

BARRY ODOM: Good afternoon. Really good to see you guys. Thanks for sticking around. I was visiting upstairs, and some of the media folks said we're in the fourth quarter of this week. So thanks for sticking around for a Wednesday afternoon session.

It's an honor to be here and an honor to be representing the University of Missouri, the state of Missouri, our athletic program, and obviously an honor to be the head football coach at the University of Missouri.

I am lucky to be in a situation with our Director of Athletics, Jim Sterk, who has provided leadership and counsel and direction for all of our athletic programs, but specifically for me on continuing to build our program and provide our kids and our student-athletes the needed resources that we need to go be successful, not only on the football field but in life.

Before I get started into some of the football ideas and philosophy and ways that we're moving, I want to pay respect to Mike Slive. I know that's been brought up a number of times, but what he did for college football, what he did and transformed our conference and the ability to work with so many folks, he was huge and instrumental in getting Mizzou into the Southeastern Conference. And what a great mark he left on so many people. And we're very, very appreciative of his family.

Also, fortunate enough to spend some time most recent with Commissioner Sankey and his guidance and vision and leadership and the direction that he's provided for all of us, all of our institutions, all of our sport programs, and the way that he's gone about his business and our business on moving our great conference forward, I admire and respect greatly and appreciate the leadership that he's provided.

The SEC, every time that the SEC puts their brand on an event, you know it's going to be done first class and the best of everything that could be done, and this event is no different.

Thanks to the College Football Hall of Fame on allowing us and providing the opportunity to be in this great building, and the great city of Atlanta. It's been a lot of fun.

I flew in with our players this morning, and just seeing what goes into put pulling one of these events off, it's very impactful and respectful, because of all of the passion and fan base and fanfare that goes into our conference is unmatched. And I'm very, very thrilled and excited to be a part of it.

I know you get into a Wednesday afternoon, and there's a lot of things that have happened the first couple of days. I did -- I had -- it's a little different. I had a new pair of custom-made Jordans that I was going to wear up here, but that was already done. So you have to get new material, right? So I left those at the house.

But the thing that you look at on having an opportunity to lead our program and to lead our team, you took -- look at and talk about, and I do with our guys all of the time, about the game of football and how that correlates in direct day-to-day living of life.

Once I have a chance to recruit a kid and get him in our program from the age of 18 to 22, I look at the opportunities that the game of football provides, that it provided for me coming in as a student-athlete. Played at linebacker in the University of Missouri in the late '90s, and it changed my life forever.

The game of football changed my life. The opportunity that it provided changed the outlook I had on the opportunities. Having a blank slate when you walk into our place, the opportunity to surround yourself with great people, achieve and get a college degree, and then go on and have a platform to go be successful the next 40 or 50 years of your life, that's my focus as the head coach at Mizzou.

You talk about work ethic, commitment, the ability as a team and individuals to strain and come together with great values and fight and tenacity and trust. The things we talk about in our locker room all of the time are individual accountability and honesty.

When you build your program that way, around those values, and you provide your guys and your team and your student-athletes with opportunities, you give them a chance when they graduate and football's over, they get a chance to go out in the real world and make our society better. They're better husbands, better fathers, better brothers, better dads, better sons.

And at the end of the day, when I look at that and I got players that come back and they realize the impact that Mizzou had on them and our football program, I know that we're moving in the right direction.

I think at the end of the day, it's about people. You have to surround yourself and be surrounded by great people the. And I made plenty of mistakes, but I have an unbelievable staff that every day of the week they've helped our program move in the right direction.

It's the best staff harmony that we've had since I've been the head coach. I'm grateful for them. There's plenty of mistakes that I've made that they helped us get it right. When I put the staff together, I didn't want a group of "yes" guys around me. We have conversation to make Mizzou better.

And we've all got the approach, when we drive into work every morning, that we have to make Mizzou football and the University of Missouri and our athletic department better today than it was yesterday. And if you keep that simple mindset and that simple approach on serving your players and serving your student-athletes and providing them all of the resources they need to go be successful, whether it's sports medicine, Academic Resource Center, our equipment operations, food and dining services, sports information, all of the different areas that touch your players' lives, if you get everybody on the same page within your organization and you have the same belief and same mindset, then you capture something that is really special.

And the people are what makes it work. We're building a new South End Zone project that will be open next year, next June, so we'll be moved into it, and it will be one of the finest in the country. And the thing -- yes, I'm so excited about that. It's going to transform our game day atmosphere, it's going to transform our fans, the ability -- the game day environment for our team. It's going to be one of the finest facilities in the country.

The thing I'm most excited about that are the people we're going to have inside that building.

There's a lot of great things going on at Mizzou. The pursuit of building our program with constantly consistent approach day-to-day. The kids, the student-athletes, the young men that we brought here today are guys that value being a Missouri Tiger. They want to represent our place the right way. They are tremendous on the football field and in the community, and they've done a great job over their course of the first three years of their career on playing at a high level.

Terry Beckner is a senior from East St. Louis High School. He will be a guy that has started really every year of his career. He's played a lot of snaps.

Terez Hall from Atlanta here, a local guy, that plays will linebacker for us. Will be a senior, and had a tremendous junior season. Anticipate him having a great year, graduating at the end of the year.

And then our quarterback, Drew Lock. From Lee's Summit High School in the Kansas City area.

All three of those guys, if you look at the last three years of Mizzou football, they've played as many snaps as anybody collectively. They represent our program the right way. They have approached since our season was over last year with a direct mindset and attitude, built within the culture of our locker room on leading our program, and I'm excited for you guys to spend time with them today.

I do want to thank you guys for the job that you do covering our football team, covering the Southeastern Conference, doing stories about our student-athletes. I know your job is hard. I know there's a lot of times guys like me are difficult to work with, and for you guys to break the story or get the information.

I respect the job you do and thank you for allowing our kids to be able to tell their story, you be able to tell their story in a way that only you guys can do with the talent that you have.

I'll open it up to questions now, and I look forward to talking about our football team.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach, for your opening statement.

Q. Coach Odom, I remember after the Auburn game last year you were very emotional what you wanted out of the Mizzou program and what you wanted to build there. I know that you guys lost the next two, but then you won six straight. What changed for your program and your team to get the program to finish strong like they did? And then also, with Drew Lock, I know his development is very important. What were you looking for when you were replacing Josh Heupel when you chose Derek Dooley to run your offense?
BARRY ODOM: Thanks for your question. The thing last year, after a tough start to the year -- and I said it a number of times, I wouldn't recommend anybody starts out 1-5. That's not a lot of fun or healthy for anybody. But we were getting close, and we didn't play -- we didn't play very well on Saturday afternoon or Saturday nights for three and a half hours. We weren't playing consistent enough to win a football game.

We were doing some really good things at times, either offensively or defensively, but not really putting it together and playing smart football together. We were turning the ball over too much. We weren't getting it back near enough defensively. We weren't playing consistent.

But our guys stayed the course. They stayed -- because our practice habits were pretty darn good. Our preparation leading up to the game, things trending in the right direction. I knew we were close.

The emotional side of that evening after that game, our players see that side of me often, and I've -- I'm usually fairly reserved in a setting with media and don't show that side of me, but that's more of my personality.

I thought at that point in the season, at the time that they needed -- they needed to see that. I needed to stand up for them a little bit publicly, because I knew we were getting close. I knew we were going to continue to get better. If we could just hold tight together and continue to show the family that we knew that we had in our locker room and knew we had on our football field and in the classroom, the things we were doing collectively together, then we were going to have a chance. But if we fractured at any moment and we didn't show togetherness, then obviously we would have fell apart from there.

So I credit to them -- I'll remember in lessons learned always, but I'll remember that group on some of the things that were done that next week, even though we didn't win the next game, we played better, we played better the next week and then started playing with a little more confidence. Luckily, and fortunately for them, there was some success that came because of the work they put in.

I think with Drew, he's physically as talented a quarterback as there is in the country. I'm really happy he's my quarterback and our quarterback. There will be a lot of comparisons and looking at stats and numbers and all of the different things that we're able to do offensively the last couple of years, and I give Coach Heupel credit. He did a great job and will do a great job in his new position.

When we knew that position was going to open up, and I talked to a number of guys, I talked to a number of people that I was interested in and leading our offense. We got ten returning starters back on offense. Obviously, for Drew to play well, we need him to play well, but we need ten guys around him to play better than they did a year ago.

Our line of scrimmage with the offensive line coming back, and Brad Davis is coaching them and doing a great job. All five of those guys started about every game last year, so there's a collective grouch there. So we got a good, strong foundation of what we're going to be offensively.

When we hired Derek, I wanted to make sure that we're able to maintain some of the things we've done with success the last couple of years, but also as head coach there were things I wanted to move to offensively that gave us a chance in either third downs or red zone or second and short, the different situations you get in football on some different ways to play.

The tempo is always going to be there for us. We'll play times as fast as we can play. There will be times that we vary the huddle and the speed of how we're going to attack the line of scrimmage and how we're going to play it.

So Derek really hit every checkmark for me on what I wanted in that position. He also -- because he was a head coach in this league, it's been good for me to be able to bounce some things off of him, just like the rest of my staff. And he's sitting in the chair. He's been in some of those opportunities to make decisions, learn from some things that he did right, learn from some things that he didn't do right. And I'm appreciative of the approach he's taken.

The thing with Derek, once he got the job and stepped on campus, I admire the way that he approached building relationships with our kids. And he dove right in and hasn't one day thought he has all of the answers. He's reached out and learned and built it together, and I'm excited to see how we keep moving that forward in the fall.

Q. I was wondering why you decided to change up your defensive coordinator and what you were looking for in those qualities?
BARRY ODOM: Well, Coach Walters is our defensive coordinator, Ryan Walters. We were together at Memphis, so we've been together a long time and I was able to get him hired at Missouri when I made the move to be defensive coordinator.

So there's a lot of similarities he and I have collectively on that side of the ball with the staff that they've got. It's a group that's working really well together. They're building the defense together. I'm going to assist how I can and help out. Ryan's going to call it on game day, and I'm excited about that moving forward.

I think we've got structurally everybody on the same page, which helps. We've been able to be really good teachers this spring for our student-athletes, for our kids. We've been able to do more defensively, because we've got a number of guys back on that side of the ball.

And together, with Coach Walters working as the defensive coordinator, that side of the ball has made a lot of progress since the end of the year last year.

Q. I kind of had a multiple question.
BARRY ODOM: Hang on, Bob, real quick. You have got a longer tenure than a lot of coaches that are here. Me, included. I'm glad to see you're back for another year.

Q. Okay. I wish I made as much money as you guys did. I mean that respectfully. But Damarea Crockett, how has he looked coming off his injury? What do you anticipate for him this season? And I know Drew considered the NFL. How big was it that he came back? And as good as he has been, what do you expect from him this year?
BARRY ODOM: Yeah. With Damarea, he's had a tremendous freshman year and had a great start last year and then had a shoulder injury and was out for the rest of the year. The transformation he's had within -- from the time he came back going through winter conditioning, spring practice, and now his summer development, he's as good as I've seen Damarea look.

He's really healthy. He's gained an extra step. To me, quickness and being able to put his foot on the ground and get north and south, the vision part of it is coming together with some power and explosiveness. I think he's got a chance to be a really good back in this league.

Also the guy that came on in his absence last year, Larry Rountree, both of those guys at that spot with our offensive line, that's one challenge we've got as a staff. We have to be creative enough and find ways to run the football. We have two backs like that who we'll have a chance to be able to draw up some things that we think can be an advantage for us, because those guys have got the ability to be really good backs in this league.

With Drew, I think you look at some of the things skill set-wise that he's able to do. I think since January, working with the staff that he's got, working on his footwork, working on the timing with the receivers, working on the understanding of reading the defense and maybe putting us in a better play call with what we're getting on that side of the ball, the understanding of how all ten other moving parts work, along obviously with his position. He's grown so much as a football IQ since January. Things have slowed down for him a great deal.

So take that combined with the physical set that he's got, he's got a chance of being -- having a special year.

Q. Barry, you obviously hired Josh Heupel to be your offensive coordinator last year. What sort of traits did you see in him, and what sort of traits do you think he'll have moving on to be head coach at UCF?
BARRY ODOM: I knew when -- Josh and I have known each other for a long time. And when we were able to get him hired, I really didn't think he would be there probably very long because I knew he was going to be a head coach.

He had had an opportunity a few years back maybe to move into that role and decided it wasn't the right time. So I appreciate the work that he did. He's a great leader. He's got a good football mind. He understands the scope of how one decision affects everybody around him. My guess is he'll have great success.

Q. When you think back of when you first took over this program, how would you describe the challenge of being a first-time head coach in the SEC, and what are some of the things that you know now that you didn't know when you first sat down in the big chair?
BARRY ODOM: I think all of the -- years ago, I finished up, graduated in December of '99, I was a high school assistant coach, I was a high school head coach, and then Coach Pinkel hired me as a graduate assistant in December of 2002, as a graduate assistant, then director of recruiting, I was director of football operations, and then I coached the safeties and I went to Memphis and became the coordinator. Then I came back to Mizzou, coached linebackers and was a coordinator then became the head coach.

So I thought when I sat in the chair, because of my time on the different roles that I had with Coach Pinkel, that I had a pretty good idea on what sitting in that chair -- what the responsibilities entailed.

He did a tremendous job of training and showing a path on the things, the day-to-day operations on how to run a program. And I was in a bunch of those meetings with him when I was the director of operations.

The things that I learned from him I use today, but also you look at it and you can have a plan ready to go, but then that change is you better have plan B and plan C ready to go. The unknown, the things that happen on a day-to-day operations when you have got 117 kids, there's going to be things that happen that you don't foresee. You don't -- surprised a little bit.

The thing that I have learned about myself is I can't do it all, quit trying to do it all. Allow other guys that are around me that are really good and talented at what they do, give them the opportunity to go be who they are and work together within the realm of being on the staff together.

So I don't have it all figured out. I'm at a lot more ease at this point in what my role needs to be, how I can best serve my student-athletes, and what our football program needs on a day-to-day operations for us to be our best.

Q. You touched on the football facilities upgrades that's coming in a year. Aside from the game day atmosphere experience, what are the biggest ways, biggest practical ways that's going to affect your program?
BARRY ODOM: I think you look at the world of college athletics, you know, the number of eyes that are on our facility, the ways that we promote the Mizzou brand within the Southeastern Conference, you get recruits on campus and they see a facility that's as good as anybody's in the country, it's going to have the Academic Resource Center, the opportunity for that area to expand, all of the different resources that the student-athletes are provided, we're going to have all of those in one area.

We'll have an opportunity to continue to grow. It's going to open up. There's going to be more room. We'll have a weight room that's got the opportunity to house the football team at one time. The sports medicine area is going to be the best that there is under the direction of Rex Sharp, who has been there a long time and does a great job.

Rohrk Cutchlow is our director of strength and conditioning and was able to design and build the weight room exactly how he wants it to function for a football program.

So all of those components together are going to help us recruiting. They are going to help the brand of Mizzou, and then academically and athletically, tying the two together with one of the biggest projects on our campus, we're really excited about how it all fits together.

Q. You mentioned earlier that you brought Terry Beckner with you as one of your three student-athletes. What are our expectations for him and some of the hype he's getting coming into the season?
BARRY ODOM: Well, Terry, it feels like he's been at Mizzou a long time. He's going into his fourth year and played as a true freshman. I look at the things Terry's overcome since he's been there, how he's matured. He's had a couple of knee surgeries. That held back -- he -- this is the first offseason that Terry was able to go through our winter conditioning, a full spring ball, and our summer conditioning.

So the things I've been able to see out of him, how he continued to develop, because he had -- he's got a lot of talent, a lot of ability, but the ability for Coach Haley to keep working with him and get him in position for consistent work, he's got an opportunity to be a special player.

He's got great quickness. Strength and speed is better than it's ever been. The understanding of the game for him and understanding of the defense and how inside we count on that position being a stronghold, strong position for us, being assignment sound, he sees the big picture and really has grown up, and I'm proud of the approach he's taken.

Q. Speaking on Terry and on Drew as well, obviously they both got a lot of draft hype this past offseason, what does it mean for your program to have them back their senior year, and what does it bring to you as leaders off the field and on the field?
BARRY ODOM: You look at the opportunity. We've had a number of guys have the opportunity to leave early and go play at the next level. I want that. I want all of my guys to dream, and I'm going to put them in position to be the best football player they can be to go play in the NFL.

Also, they realize, in their situation, for our program and for them, it was best that they come back. And that meant a lot to both of them because they wanted to leave their mark on Mizzou football. They are both close to getting their degree. They want to get that. That's important to them. And it's important to be, because they developed friendships, in our locker room and a brotherhood that's going to carry on forever, and they we're ready to leave that.

And it was one of the -- two of the biggest signees we got last year were already in our locker room, but when they decided to come back and the leadership they provided, they've been in the trenches, they've been in the environment, they understand what it takes, they have an opportunity to continue and lead us not only in the good times but the bad times, and I'm grateful that I have an opportunity to spend some more time with him.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Appreciate your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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