It's a return to his alma mater for Odom, whose dominant defense allowed just 4.7 yards per play this year and helped Memphis to its first 10-win season since 1938.
Odom would replace Dave Steckel, who left Missouri to become the head coach at Missouri State. The Tigers went 10-3 this season, winning the SEC East for the second straight year. Steckel’s defense was one of the best in the nation, allowing just 4.5 yards per play, 7th in the FBS and best in the SEC.
Odom, 38, is seen as one of college football’s brightest young defensive minds. In addition to its brilliance all season, Odom’s defense proved up to the task against SEC offenses, holding Ole Miss to 24 points even though the Tigers’ offense held on to the ball for just 23:05. Over his three-year tenure in Memphis, Odom has taken a defense that was 119th in yards allowed per play the year before his arrival and improved that up to 17th in the country. Memphis’ 19.5 points allowed per game this year was 10th in the FBS.
Odom played linebacker from Missouri from 1996-99, recording 362 tackles. He also worked at the school for nine years, six in administrative capacities and three as the safeties coach under head coach Gary Pinkel, before moving to Memphis. Odom coached high school football for three years, serving as an assistant in 2000 at Ada (Okla.) High before becoming the head coach at Rock Bridge (Mo.) High.
Third-year Memphis coach Justin Fuente’s name has come up in several head coaching searches this year. But he agreed Thursday to a five-year extension, albeit with only a $500,000 buyout should Fuente be tempted by another offer.