In 1944 he was drafted in the second round (15th overall) by the Chicago-Pittsburgh Cardinals-Steelers but served in the United States Navy from 1944 through 1946. The Pittsburgh Steelers offered Odell $8,000 to play for the 1946 season. However, his doctor recommended that he give up football due to a knee injury suffered while playing basketball.
He was the head football coach at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1960s and at Williams College from 1971 to 1986.
With a record of 75-49 in 16 years as the head coach at Williams, Odell ranks third in career wins behind Dick Farley and Charlie Caldwell. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
He died of kidney disease in a nursing home in 2012.