Whether it was one of the worst-kept secrets in the SEC the past few days or not, it is officially official. Barry Odom is the new defensive coordinator at Arkansas. The school announced the news on Monday, days after the speculation about the pending relationship was reported.
As we noted on Friday, Odom was expected to be joining the Arkansas football staff as the new defensive coordinator after previously being removed as head coach at Missouri. Odom joins the first coaching staff being assembled by new Razorback head coach Sam Pittman. As with most first-time head coaches like Pittman, having trusted coordinators with some head coaching experience of their own is never a bad resource to have available if the option is there. Odom was the head coach at Missouri from 2016 through 2019 after replacing former Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel retired at the end of the 2015 season.
Odom will be tasked with improving a defense that finished its 2019 season ranked 111th in the nation with an average of 450.7 yards allowed per game. Arkansas also ranked 124th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 36.8 points per game this past season. It is a struggle to have impressive defensive ranks when playing in the same division as one of the most potent Alabama and LSU offenses of the era have been roaring, and Auburn has had the potential for big offensive numbers at times too. But even with that thrown into consideration, there is clearly plenty of room for improvement with the Arkansas defense for Odom to begin cracking down on.
Arkansas is relying on Odom’s past body of work to carry over as there is evidence he has what it takes to transform defenses from putrid to sturdy. And there is almost nowhere for Arkansas to go but up as the new coaching staff begins work on building a program into a team that won’t be run over.