I've touched base with a few people close to this situation here, including Walters. I hope to talk to him more at length and on the record. Stay tuned.
Here's what I've learned from Mizzou's perspective: This did not come as a surprise that he looked for another job. And while Walters was interviewing for the job at Illinois, MU was not worried about losing him - from the top down. Drinkwitz was happy to keep him on board a year ago to have some continuity on that side of the ball, but he was clearly not thrilled with how the defense played down the stretch. That's not to say he planned to fire Walters. I don't believe it reached that point - because if he wanted to fire him, he would have just fired him. Instead, the way it worked out, he can hand the job to someone else, maybe adjust the scheme or philosophy - and doesn't have to pay Walters a buyout.
I don't want to speak for Walters, but I get the sense he wanted a fresh start at a program where he gets a clean slate. His re-hire at Mizzou always had the feel of an arranged marriage. An arranged marriage can still be a happy marriage - and I never sensed a shred of animosity between Drinkwitz and Walters - but when you're the holdover surrounded by new coaches, their new systems, their new vision AND your side of the ball struggles some, things can get awkward.
Moves like these aren't always filled with malice or resentment, and I never detected that this year between the two. Sometimes coaches are just ready to move on to a new challenge - and their team is ready for the same.