Barry Odom (Nate Latsch-Scout.com)

Mizzou's Barry Odom on Facing Arkansas, NCAA Investigation And More

Missouri coach Barry Odom spoke with reporters on Wednesday morning.

Missouri football coach Barry Odom spoke with reporters on the Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday morning and tackled some tough topics, including a possible NCAA investigation, linebacker Eric Beisel’s comments on Arkansas and more.

Here’s what the Missouri coach said during his time with reporters in advance of Friday’s SEC contest against visiting Arkansas.

Opening statement…

“Coming off a short week just like Arkansas is after their game on Saturday and we’ll do the same. We’ve adjusted our schedule and everything’s moved up a day. It’s a great time of year for everybody involved in football around Thanksgiving. You always grow up and you remember certain games growing up and being involved in sports and football at an early age those two kind of go hand in hand. Thankful to be playing a great opponent on Thanksgiving weekend. Have a lot of respect for Bret (Bielema) and the job that he has done and continues to do. Our team’s worked really well today. We had a really good practice this morning and we have a Thanksgiving meal coming up together and I think it’s important to give thanks for all the things that we have. We’ve got a meal coming up this afternoon with our team and our families together and then the most important thing for me along with that is recognizing our 16 seniors that will play for the last time this Friday at their home stadium. A lot of guys that have been here five years. There’s some that have been here one. We had different ways to bring guys here in different places for a number of different reasons. But those 16 guys have given me everything they’ve got and I’m indebted to them forever. You look at that senior class. The guys that have been here for five years, they’ve won two division championships. They set their mark on some things here at Mizzou that we’re very proud of and we’re going to continue to build and get it back up to where it needs to be.”

On the alleged NCAA investigation and the impact on recruiting…

“I look at the success that we’ve had academically and will continue to have. I’m very confident in our compliance department working through this situation. I think that when everything comes out we’re going to be working well together with compliance and academics and NCAA, whatever it is, in the different areas and I’m quite confident that the things that we continue to stand for this program, the things that we’re doing academically, we’re graduating our kids and all the different resources that we have to assist that, our graduation rates, if you are here for your exhausted time then you are going to graduate. Our APR is high. Our graduation success rate is off the charts. We’re doing a lot of great things. I’m excited about getting through this process and look forward to working with all the parties involved to get all the information, all the background involved on everybody that’s involved in this moving forward.”

On concern that his players are involved…

“I don’t know. There is so little information at this point. They are gathering all the information that they can and then when it’s time for me to know something then obviously Jim (Sterk) will do a great job on communicating that with me. Our kids work extremely hard academically. When I recruit a student-athlete, we value the opportunity to work with and provide a platform for those kids to be success. I talk all the time with high school coaches and parents and the guardians on it’s our expectation to graduate from Mizzou. For us to be able to do that, for them to be able to put themselves in position to get a degree, to get a college degree, that opens up doors forever and we take pride in that and will continue to work hard to put our kids in position to be successful academically.”

On if Charles Harris has made a decision on participating in Senior Day festivities…

“He’s not going to. He said he wanted to focus on trying to send the seniors out the right way. We’ve had a lot of great conversations and I’m not reading into that being anything other than he has a lot of respect for his teammates. He wants to go play really well for them and he just said he’s not going to take part in the activities. We’ll sit down here as we have the last few weeks and he and I just continue to conversation on what we’re thinking and what he’s thinking and we’ll get all the information that we can for him to help him throughout the process of the decision making. He’s such a great kid and he’s so close to getting his degree. He’s done a lot of things right. I’m excited about whatever it is. If he decides to go then I’m going to support him 100 percent. If he decides to come back then I absolutely will support him 100 percent. I just want him to have all the information with what he needs to know to be able to make the right decision for him.” 

On what he thinks of how Arkansas utilizes their tight ends…

“Since the coach has been there they’ve done such a great job offensively of using and recruiting to the skills that he wants to build that roster. Then Dan (Enos) has come in there and really the mark that he leaves on that offense. The tight end position for them, since I’ve been following Coach, has always been important and you see it come up this year play after play after play. They continue to put their team in really good shape. Their quarterback’s making great throws. Some of the things they do, just being able to line up in power, you know what’s coming, power football, and come at you. I’m really impressed with that. Coach has had time to build the roster the way he’s wanted. He’s done a great job with that. And then those tight ends, they continue to make big plays and make tough catches, they block on the line of scrimmage. I have a lot of respect for the way they play and what they’ve done setting that up, setting that roster up, and then utilizing the skill set that the guys have. They’ve done a great job.”

On calling Bret Bielema about Beisel’s comments and his message for Beisel about that…

“I think I said it early in the week, before any of this came out, I have so much respect for Bret and his program and the state of Arkansas. I’ve got family that live there. I grew up visiting there a lot. We have 115 kids and every day you want them to make the right decision, you try to put them in position to have all the information they need to always be right. Obviously Eric and I have had a few conversations on this. It’s not something I’m really interested in, making bold statements by anybody — one of my players I’m talking about. So he said it, we can’t take it back. We apologize. That doesn’t reflect our feelings on making statements like that.”

On Arkansas right tackle Brian Wallace, from CBC High School in St. Louis, and his thoughts on him as a player…

“Very talented player and I was at Memphis when the recruiting process was taking place. We tried to recruit him there, so I’ve known him for a number of years and I’m impressed with him. The things I saw in high school. He’s been well-coached, you could tell that now, as he was in high school. You look at the things that he’s been able to do there and just continues to get better. Very impressive player. As are all their offensive linemen. The way they play the game, I really respect it. He’s a very talented player who is going to have a great career there.”

On his family in Arkansas and if they are Razorback fans…

“I’m hoping that blood’s a little bit thicker than water. They live there in the Rogers area. They’ve got plenty of Missouri gear. But I think when Mizzou and Arkansas are playing, they are cheering pretty hard for them. But I know who they are cheering for on Friday. If not there’s no Thanksgiving dinner here for them, I know that.”

On what family members live there…

“Sister-in-law, my wife’s sister, and her husband live there with a daughter. Then growing up I had an aunt and an uncle who lived there in Rogers, so I visited there a lot growing up and did a lot of trout fishing in the area and it was a lot of fun. I have a lot of great memories from growing up and spending time over there.”

On how he feels about Ish Witter and Missouri’s other running backs with Damarea Crockett suspended this week…

“Damarea has had a tremendous year and he’s going to have such a great career for us. He’s a great kid. The guys, whether you lose a guy with an injury or however that takes place, the next guy has to step up and go make plays. Ish has done a great job this year developing into that role. Nate Strong has come on the last couple weeks and played really well at times. He has to do it consistently. Then you look at everybody else on offense, the 10 other positions, they’ve got to up their game. You hate to lose a really good player. That happens in college football. For us we have to respond the right way and adapt and move on and make it work. I know our guys are excited about the challenge and we’ll be excited to play.”

On with both teams coming off high scoring games and if there is extra pressure on both offenses to score with every possession they have…

“Every week is different and I don’t know if there is extra pressure. I think every game will unfold a little bit differently. It’s a little bit ironic that both of our games were a little high scoring last week. We’ve got enough on our plates to worry about on both sides of the ball because of the challenges that Arkansas presents. We’ll have to play really well in all three phases to give ourselves a chance.”

RELATED: Bret Bielema on SEC teleconference

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com.

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