After a busy week of coaching search news, Missouri hired Eliah Drinkwitz to be its next head football coach. 

It’s always exciting when your team hires a new coach, but Drinkwitz, 36, is a relatively new and young head coach who brings a lot of potential. He is far from a proven commodity, but he also has tremendous upside.

Drinkwitz has one season of head coaching experience, and it went pretty well. He took over an Appalachian State team that in 2018 went 11-2 and won the Sun Belt Conference championship game. Drinkwitz led the Mountaineers to a 12-1 season this year, defeating Louisiana 45-38 in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game on Saturday. 

Drinkwitz and Appalachian State had a big win at South Carolina, where Missouri hasn’t won since 2014. Hopefully he can also hang onto that beating-Louisiana mojo, since Missouri hosts the Ragin’ Cajuns for Senior Day next fall. 

Although Drinkwitz only has one season as a head coach, he has some experience coaching with Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin, two successful coaches. Drinkwitz was an assistant coach for Malzahn at Arkansas high schools, and then went on to be an assistant coach at Auburn, Arkansas State, Boise State and North Carolina State. Drinkwitz was on staff at Auburn for the 2010 national championship, and he was the offensive coordinator at Boise State and North Carolina State.

Arkansas also seemed to be in the running for Drinkwitz, but the Razorbacks eventually hired Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman and the Tigers got Drinkwitz.

It was at times a tumultuous week that led to the hiring. There were reports of a tense relationship between athletic director Jim Sterk and former coach Barry Odom. Some of Missouri’s board of curators were also apparently underwhelmed with the initial list of coaching candidates, which didn’t include Drinkwitz. But at the end of all that, I like this hire for Missouri.

Even if it’s brief, this is a guy who has head coaching experience. He’s had success as an assistant. And, just as important, he seems to bring an energy to a program that had become somewhat stagnant. His offensive mind should help get the offense going again. 

When you’re a program that occupies Missouri’s place in the college football pecking order, sometimes you have to take a risk to get a good coach before the traditional powers of the sport would hire the coach. You have to spot the talent a little earlier, buy the unproven stock before it takes off. 

Missouri could have taken a safer, more established hire, but that might have been just looking to be reliably decent. Instead they took more of a gamble, hiring a coach who has not proven yet he can be a consistent winner, but it’s a coach who hasn’t shown his ceiling yet. There’s a chance Missouri has hired the next great college football coach. In any event, this is a hire Tiger fans can get excited about as the long countdown to the 2020 season begins.

By Benjamin Herrold