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Memphis, Justin Fuente Dealt Blow After Bowl Win

Barry Odom's departure to Missouri leaves large shoes to fill in Memphis.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Less than 24 hours after a thrilling double overtime victory over BYU,  the Memphis Tigers, and head coach Justin Fuente, are faced with replacing one of the Tigers important cogs to their success.  On Tuesday it was announced that Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom would be returning to coach at Missouri, his Alma mater.  Odom played linebacker at Missouri from 1996-1999 and served on Missouri's football staff, in various roles, from 2003-2011.

Odom was one of Justin Fuentes first hires at Memphis in 2012.  Fuente entrusted Odom to coach the safeties but also oversee the defensive play-calling.  When Odom left Missouri in 2012 he inherited a Memphis defense which ranked 117th in FBS total defense.  By the end of the 2012 season Odom had his defensive squad improved to the point of nearly ranking in the top 50 of FBS total defense.  Memphis finished the 2013 season with a defense ranked inside the top 40.  Currently the Memphis defense is ranked 28th in the FBS.

While the Odom news is a blow to Memphis it should come as no surprise.  Odom's name has come up multiple times.  Justin Fuente already appears ahead of this news according to footballscoop.com.  Per footballscoop's sources expect Fuente to make a hire after the holidays, possibly in the form of a promotion.