Barry Odom calls out Tennessee, other SEC programs for recruiting Missouri seniors

Barry Odom is entering his third season as Missouri’s head coach but has a bowl ban hovering above his program. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Barry Odom is entering his third season as Missouri’s head coach but has a bowl ban hovering above his program. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Anytime a program is hit with a bowl ban, the NCAA leaves the door open for that school’s seniors to transfer without penalty.

And with that reality comes recruitment from coaches across the country, even within your own conference. Missouri, after being hit with a 2019 bowl ban as a result of a former tutor completing coursework for athletes, is learning that right now.

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Barry Odom, entering his third season as the Tigers’ head coach, told CBS Sports that his 19 seniors are being “contacted and bombarded non-stop” by other programs who hope they will leave Columbia. Odom singled out one school from his own division: Tennessee.

From CBS Sports:

Odom singled out Tennessee as the most frequent caller for his players among SEC programs during a booster event on Tuesday.

“Everybody is going to have a bad day,” Odom said, expressing his frustration with keeping his players from transferring. “You combine that with somebody that — who’d we beat 51-17 this year? Tennessee? Yeah, those guys. They are non-stop reaching out daily [saying], ‘Hey, come here.’ The grass is not always greener somewhere else.”

Odom recruiting his own players to stay

Players who could be plucked away from Missouri include linebacker Cale Garrett (112 tackles), defensive back DeMarkus Acy (three interceptions, 13 pass breakups), wide receiver Jonathon Johnson (59 catches for 737 yards), tackle Yasir Durant (22 career starts) and, of course, quarterback Kelly Bryant, who transferred in from Clemson earlier this offseason. There have been no defections from Odom’s program to this point, but the situation has left Odom in a position where he has to recruit his own players to make sure they stay despite the lack of postseason opportunities, pending an appeal.

And Odom told CBS he hasn’t hesitated from calling his SEC coaching counterparts who have been heavily pursuing his players either. Odom will get the chance to confront his peers face-to-face when the SEC coaches have their annual meeting Wednesday in Birmingham, Alabama:

“I know there is a handful of guys who are talking daily to my players,” Odom added. “That’s going to be a fun luncheon tomorrow.”

What Missouri’s coaches are experiencing is no different than what happened at Ole Miss last year and Penn State earlier this decade. The Rebels lost a slew of players, including starting quarterback Shea Patterson to Michigan, after a second year was added to their NCAA bowl ban. In the aftermath of the scandal at Penn State in 2012, Illinois infamously sent eight assistants to State College to recruit PSU’s players.

Missouri appealing NCAA ruling

Missouri’s players can be pursued even while the school begins the process of appealing the NCAA decision. The penalties, which also included vacating wins, scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions, stem from the tutor “completing an entire course” for one football player while assisting two others with the completion of Mizzou’s math placement exam. Missouri’s baseball and softball programs were also penalized.

Missouri cooperated with the NCAA throughout its investigation, but that did the school no favors in the end. Missouri’s chancellor called the ruling “harsh and inconsistent.” Odom called the sanctions “unjust and unfair” and vowed that the school will “aggressively fight” the NCAA’s ruling.

“We’re going to fight with everything that we’ve got,” Odom said at a Feb. 1 news conference.

That fight includes calling out other schools, evidently.

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