Missouri hires Appalachian State's Eliah Drinkwitz as new head coach

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Missouri hires Appalachian State's Eliah Drinkwitz as new head coach

Mon, 02/03/2020 - 09:24
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By Liam Quinn
This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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A unanimous decision by the University of Missouri Board of Curators made it official Tuesday morning. Eliah Drinkwitz is the 33rd head coach of Missouri football.

"I am excited for the opportunity of a lifetime to be the head football coach at Missouri," Drinkwitz said in a statement. "This is a special place with special people."

Drinkwitz’s contract will pay him around $4 million per year over six years, a source confirmed to the Missourian on Monday. That’s more than five times the $750,000 per year that Drinkwitz was making at Appalachian State. Full financial details will be released "pending completion of the human resources process," the athletic department said in a statement.

Drinkwitz will also make more than the $3.05 million per year that Odom was making at Missouri. 

Drinkwitz led Appalachian State to a 12-1 record and a Sun Belt Conference championship in his first season as a head coach in 2019. The 36-year-old had previously been the offensive coordinator at Boise State and then North Carolina State before taking the job at Appalachian State, which will play UAB in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 21. Drinkwitz is currently the sixth-youngest head coach in the FBS.

"We went on a search looking for the right coach at a crucial time, and we found him," Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said in a statement.

The athletic department has scheduled a media conference to introduce the new football coach later Tuesday morning at 10:45.

Multiple Missouri players told the Missourian that they found out about the hire on Twitter, and were not informed ahead of time.

While rumors swirled on Sunday, Drinkwitz apparently was spending the afternoon with his family. He posted a photo of his daughter performing in “The Nutcracker”:

The hire means that Missouri is turning to someone with just one year of head coaching experience, but Drinkwitz was successful in this first season. In addition to the conference championship, Drinkwitz’s Mountaineers won road games over two Power 5 teams, North Carolina and South Carolina, the latter of which plays Missouri every year.

When Odom took the Missouri job in 2016, he had never been a head coach at the collegiate level.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dave Matter reported Sunday night that three members of the Board of Curators flew to North Carolina on Sunday to meet with Drinkwitz, a sign that the Board might support the hire. Last week, there were reports that the Curators weren’t satisfied with a number of earlier candidates being floated by Sterk.

It is not yet known who will be on Drinkwitz’s staff at Missouri, but Sterk said on Nov. 30 that he was not expecting to have to buy out the contracts of any of Odom’s assistant coaches.

“As far as the paying off of assistants and and the contracts, I expect these coaches either to be retained by the next head coach or hired (elsewhere),” Sterk said.

A source told the Missourian on Monday evening that offensive line coach Brad Davis would be leaving the program, but did not say where. Bruce Feldman of the Athletic reported that Davis was expected to take a job on Arkansas’ coaching staff.

Drinkwitz’s wide receivers coach at Appalachian State is Pat Washington, who had the same job at Missouri from 2013-2015.

During the press conference about the firing of Odom on Nov. 30, Sterk said that Power 5 and SEC coaching experience would be an important factor in picking the next head coach, though not an absolute. Drinkwitz’s only Power 5 experience came as an assistant at N.C. State, where he coached from 2016-2018, and at Auburn, where he was the quality control coach from 2010-2011.

In 2012, Drinkwitz was the running backs coach at Arkansas State under head coach Gus Malzahn, who is now the head coach at Auburn. Drinkwitz became the co-offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 2013 under Bryan Harsin, after Malzahn left for Auburn. Drinkwitz followed Harsin to Boise State when the latter became the head coach there. Drinkwitz first served as the tight ends coach in Boise before becoming the offensive coordinator.

Drinkwitz has had his hand in helping develop several players who have reached the NFL. In the 2019 NFL Draft alone, N.C. State had three of its offensive players drafted: center Garrett Bradbury (1st round), quarterback Ryan Finley (4th) and receiver Kelvin Harmon (6th). Seven offensive players from Drinkwitz’s time at N.C. State have been drafted.

Over that span from the 2017 to the 2019 NFL Drafts, Missouri has had four total players drafted, only two of whom were offensive players — Drew Lock and J’Mon Moore.

A number of Missouri commits are expected in Columbia this weekend to meet the new coach. Four-star wide receiver recruit Javian Hester from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and 3-star quarterback Brady Cook from Chaminade High School in St. Louis announced on Twitter that they plan to visit.