Three faces of the “New Mizzou” made the trip to Springfield Friday night: athletic director Jim Sterk, second-year football coach Barry Odom and new men’s basketball boss Cuonzo Martin. The former Missouri State coach said Michael Porter Jr.’s commitment totally changed his summer recruiting plans.
“You have star power when you talk about a guy like Michael Porter Jr., a very talented young player with a tremendous level of humility,” Martin said. “I think our guys will be great playing with him and being around him.”
Martin hopes to turn around the basketball program, while Barry Odom hopes his team can bounce back after a 4-8 campaign in his first season as head coach.
“We’re a lot better football team now than we were last year at this time,” Odom said, shortly before throwing out a first pitch at Hmamons Field. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I like the group we’re working with.”
Odom and Martin lead MU’s most visible programs, whose down years and off-the-field incidents have hurt the university’s reputation. Administrators are betting on these coaches to help bring Mizzou back to national prominence.
“What we can do in athletics is really be a rallying point, gain the attention to the university again in a positive way,” Sterk said.
“The Mizzou fans want to be successful,” Marin said. “They want their programs to be successful. Not just in football and men’s basketball – they want all their programs to be successful.”
Success in volleyball and wrestling is great, but nothing fires up Mizzou fans across the state like fighting for an SEC football title. And nothing would say “New Mizzou” louder than Martin leading his program to its first Final Four.