#5: Barry Odom, UNLV
UNLV’s Barry Odom is quite the coach, as he has managed to make this list in spite of having what is easily the least to talk about, and he did so by flipping the Rebels we’ve known and pitied on their heads in just one season.
From 2020 to 2022, the UNLV football program could only muster seven combined wins; upon Odom’s arrival, it hit nine in 2023 alone. The run marked only the third time that the Rebels have finished with a winning record in the 21st century and gave them the most wins they’ve seen in a single season since 1984.
But, while an efficient turnaround is always good, it may be too good in this kind of discussion, as such a steep rise in such a typically sorry team could be chalked up as a mere “fluke.” Assuming that the bigger fish out there are looking for a guy that can promise them long-term consistency, some may refuse to bite the hook on Odom before they see more from him.
Then again, what do I know? The aforementioned Kalen DeBoer had just three great seasons (one of which at Fresno State) before getting the opportunity to succeed college football’s greatest head coach at college football’s greatest school. With that storyline still fresh in the news, perhaps efficiency clears consistency easier than I think.
Either way, if we don’t have to circle Odom’s name now, we’ll probably have to very soon.