Compliments and SEC football chat will not be the only thing in the air during the SEC Luncheon. Given what Barry Odom said during a booster event on Tuesday, there might be some heated exchanges...or at the very least, some awkward glances.
It was almost two weeks ago when the NCAA announced that they were delivering harsh sanctions on Missouri athletics for academic fraud. When we say “harsh”, we mean excessive: Missouri football, baseball, and softball are banned from the postseason in their upcoming seasons, each will have their scholarships reduced by five percent, and various recruiting restrictions will be in place. Arguably no sport is affected more by these punishments than the football team.
As a consequence of being barred from participating in a bowl game, rising Missouri seniors are allowed to transfer without penalty. Given that Missouri pulled out an encouraging 8-5 season in 2018, it makes sense that other programs would be interested in these players.
According to CBSSports, Odom is not happy about it. Specifically, he called out Tennessee in his rant:
“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.”
Tennessee did not have a comment when contacted by CBS Sports about Odom’s stance.
Well then. Tell us how you really feel, Barry.
If we can be serious for a second, Odom’s frustration is understandable. Compared to what the infraction actually was and what Missouri did to correct it, the punishment was excessive. If you are under the impression that each team is cheating similarly (hint: they probably are), then Odom’s anger is even more justified. Everyone on the road was speeding, but they were the only ones who got pulled over and ticketed.
Except if you are North Carolina. Then you just got pulled over and let go with a warning, despite your tags belonging to a stolen vehicle.
As to who Tennessee might be pursuing? A quick survey of the Missouri roster seems to suggest that the senior class is stocked with linemen on both sides of the ball. Tennessee does have some needs that they want filled with experienced players in this area. According to Odom, Pruitt went straight from recruiting high schoolers to recruiting his players.
Can’t knock a guy for trying, right?
At the end of the day, I doubt that Pruitt is going to be dissuaded by Odom’s statement. It’s business, and Pruitt is trying to make his business the best in the neighborhood. This is the SEC, after all. It just means more.