Missouri head football coach Barry Odom has been fired after four seasons.
The university announced the decision Saturday morning, one day following the Tigers' season-ending victory over Arkansas in Little Rock to finish the year 6-6.
"This decision was difficult to make but was necessary," Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said in a statement.
Missouri named Brick Haley its interim head coach later in the day. Haley had been serving as defensive line and senior associate head coach.
Sterk said during a news conference Saturday afternoon that every assistant coach remains under contract and that Odom's replacement will determine the coaching staff.
Odom, 43, a former MU linebacker, ends his head coaching tenure at his alma mater with a record of 25-25 and two bowl appearances since taking the helm in December 2015. Missouri went 4-8 in his first season, 7-6 in his second season and 8-5 last year, improving each campaign to elevate expectations entering 2019.
Following a loss at Wyoming in the season opener, Odom's Tigers rattled off five straight victories in Columbia this year, rising into The Associated Press Top 25.
Then the bottom fell out.
Missouri lost 21-14 at Vanderbilt, 29-7 at Kentucky, 27-0 at Georgia and 23-6 at home to Florida. Tennessee defeated the Tigers 24-20 last Saturday on senior day at Faurot Field.
A 24-14 victory against the Razorbacks on Black Friday was not enough to save Odom's job.
"As a program, we had tremendous momentum coming into the 2019 season with the opening of the new south end zone facility as well as other strategic investments in our football program," Sterk said. "However, we lost a great deal of that energy during the last half of the season."
Despite winning six games, Missouri will not play in a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions, which were upheld this past week after a long, unsuccessful appeal process. The penalties stemmed from academic fraud by a tutor who completed coursework for a dozen student-athletes in 2015 and 2016.
Odom's contract with Missouri, extended three years last December, ran through 2024. The buyout is $2.3625 million, according to the USA TODAY Sports salary database for college football coaches.
Odom played for Missouri from 1996-99. He returned as a graduate assistant in 2003 and worked in an administrative capacity before becoming the safeties coach. He left in 2012 for three seasons to be the defensive coordinator at Memphis but was hired back by Missouri as defensive coordinator for the 2015 season.
He was then promoted to succeed Gary Pinkel as head coach following Pinkel's retirement.
Odom was direct and uncertain when asked about his job security Friday.
“No idea," Odom said. "I’m going to wake up in the morning and go to work.”
Instead, Odom woke up Saturday morning and was relieved of his duties.
Missouri players offered Odom outspoken support throughout the season, even calling for a special meeting Thursday to try and rally in their finale, thinking they may be playing for him to remain head coach.
"Coach Odom’s the right guy for the job, and everyone's entitled to their own opinion,” Missouri wide receiver Barrett Banister said Friday after the win. “If you look at his body of work, that speaks for itself. We’ve come a long ways from a dark place at this university. And so I think good things are coming and people need to just be patient and see that.”
Sterk, who has long maintained the team should be a national contender, ran out of patience.
He wasn't around to hire Odom in the first place, starting about 10 months after Odom took over the team.
"We strive to achieve excellence, and we expect to compete for Southeastern Conference titles, consistently play in the postseason and represent Mizzou the right way on and off the field," Sterk said.
"A national search is underway."