Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Multiple changes expected on Arkansas' football staff
FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom has bolstered his unit with a protege, as Michael Scherer is expected to be promoted to an on-field position as linebackers coach.
Sources confirmed that Scherer will move up from his position as defensive quality control coach into one of the 10 on-field positions.
The former Missouri linebacker will replace Rion Rhoades, a former linebacker for Coach Sam Pittman at Hutchinson (Kan.) College and the long-time head coach there. Sources have indicated Rhoades is likely to remain with the football staff in some capacity, possibly in the position of director of high school and NFL relations formerly held by Bobby Allen.
There are rumblings of other changes in store for Pittman’s second-year staff, which previously lost receivers coach Justin Stepp and hired Kenny Guiton as his replacement. A report from 247Sports.com indicated tight ends coach Jon Cooper is not expected to return, and there is talk he could be in the running for the vacant tight ends coach spot at Ole Miss.
Odom recently turned down reported interest from Texas and LSU for their defensive coordinator roles. As Pittman’s right-hand man and daily walking buddy, Odom is apparently being given more autonomy in making decisions on the defensive side of the ball.
Scherer is seen as an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks after racking up 266 tackles at Missouri from 2012-16. His redshirt senior season was cut short by major knee surgery. He gave professional football a short run and dabbled in real estate before entering the coaching profession as a graduate assistant at Missouri in 2019.
Scherer was promoted for one game during the Razorbacks’ 3-7 season to serve as an on-field coach in the game at Florida when Pittman was sidelined due to a covid-19 quarantine. Scherer worked that game from the press box while Odom served as interim head coach on the sideline. Scherer was in the press box alongside Odom in Arkansas’ other games.
Odom took over as Missouri’s defensive coordinator in 2015, Scherer’s junior season, and both of them prospered. Scherer racked up 93 tackles while the Tigers finished the season ranked ninth in total defense, allowing 302 yards per game.
Odom was named Missouri head coach the following season and their relationship grew, brought about partially through similar circumstances. Odom suffered a season-ending injury as a senior at Missouri in 1999 and was touched by Coach Larry Smith visiting with him for a couple of hours at his apartment following his surgery.
Odom played a similar role for Scherer in 2016.
“When I went through the injury, every day he was calling me or coming to see me … to make sure mentally and whatever else, I was good with life,” Scherer said in a video produced by the Missouri athletics department in 2019. “When you have someone who cares about you that much … Coach Odom came in and he treated me like his son. I’ll be loyal and grateful to him for the rest of my life for that.”
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