Back in February, Missouri head coach Barry Odom had a bone to pick with Tennessee and their coaches.
In the midst of Missouri being hit with sanctions and a postseason ban due to an NCAA investigation into improper academic benefits, Odom was frustrated with teams reaching out to his players about the potential of transferring off the Tigers’ roster. NCAA rules stipulate that seniors on teams facing postseason bans can transfer without restriction and can be immediately eligible at another program.
Because of that, Missouri’s group of seniors were being contacted daily by different teams. Odom was fed up with it back before the start of spring practices, and he specifically called out Tennessee.
“Everybody is going to have a bad day,” Odom said in February according to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. “You combine that with somebody that — who 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 also added that he had reached out to Tennessee and some of the other coaches contacting his players, but none of them had returned his phone calls. All of that happened ahead of the annual SEC coaches’ meetings in Birmingham, Alabama.
“I haven’t gotten return phone calls,” Odom stated. “I know there is a handful of guys who are talking daily to my players. That’s going to be a fun luncheon tomorrow.”
Despite Tennessee and other teams contacting Odom’s players, no Tiger senior ended up entering the transfer portal, a fact that Odom was very proud of on Monday when he appeared on the main stage of SEC Media Days.
Odom was asked several questions on the main stage about the NCAA transfer portal, his players staying at Missouri, and the ongoing appeal process Missouri is undergoing to try and reverse the NCAA’s ruling. But it was once Odom was off the main stage that he was asked specifically about Tennessee and the comments he made back in February.
According to quotes gathered from Jesse Simonton of Volquest, Odom says he and Jeremy Pruitt are fine now.
“We were able to visit in person soon after that when we had meetings in Birmingham,” Odam stated. “I also understand how recruiting goes. We’re okay. Everybody is a competitor and wants to build their team as good as you can build it. When you’ve got good players, that’s a good thing. People want them. I haven’t given it another thought.”
In Odom’s mind, what happened back in February is all water under the bridge. None of Missouri’s players ended up transferring, and now the Tigers have a chip on their shoulder as they enter the 2019 season.
Odom has had a great deal of success against Tennessee as the Tigers’ head coach, blowing out the Vols by a score of 50-17 in back-to-back seasons. We’ll see this season if Odom’s words remain true about he and Pruitt being “okay” or if he still holds a grudge and tries to dump on as many points as he can against the Vols.
Tennessee and Missouri will face-off in Columbia on November 23rd during the 2019 season.