COLUMBIA— The dust has settled. Now it is time to move forward. As abruptly as Mike Anderson left, the preparation for finding a new Missouri men's basketball coach began.
“This is the face of basketball in the state of Missouri, frankly one of the more visible folks in the entire state," MU Athletics Director Mike Alden said.
As soon as Mike Anderson’s era at Missouri was snuffed out, a new spark ignited. Names mentioned as Anderson’s potential replacements include big-time coaches to coaches who can be found right in Missouri’s own backyard. Here are 15 names, some more likely than others, that might come up in the coach-search speculation.
Paging Mid Majors:
Scott Sutton: Oral Roberts; son of former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton
Cuonzo Martin: Missouri State; former NBA player, played at Purdue, but born in St. Louis
Brad Stevens: Butler; 4-year Bulldogs coach, not likely to be interested
Brian Gregory: Dayton; has taken two teams to the NCAA Tournament in eight seasons as head coach, 171-93 all time
Shaka Smart: VCU; has his rams deep in the NCAA Tournament in only his second year
Ben Jacobsen: Northern Iowa; has beaten Kansas, two conference titles in five seasons
Bet on a Big-School:
Kevin Stallings: Vanderbilt; Purdue grad started at Illinois State before moving to Vanderbilt, Six NCAA Tournament teams since 1980
Matt Painter: Purdue; led the Boilermakers to five NCAA Tournaments and two Sweet 16’s in seven seasons with the Boilermakers.
Mark Fox: Georgia; was on Missouri athletic director Mike Alden's list of candidates before Missouri hired Anderson in 2006.
Fired, for hire:
Pat Knight — recently dismissed from Texas Tech after three seasons as head coach. Knight played college basketball at Indiana from 1991-95 under his father, Bob Knight.
Bruce Pearl — recently dismissed from Tennessee, and after admitting to officials he had been untruthful with NCAA investigators, worked without a contract. Still faces charges of unethical conduct from the NCAA
Right in our own backyard:
Melvin Watkins: Associate Head coach at Missouri since 2004 (except for brief stint at head coach after Quin Snyder was fired); before that, he coached at Texas A&M for six seasons.
Jon Sunvold: Shooting guard for Missouri from 1979-1983; twice won all-conference, all-district and all-Big Eight Tournament honors as a Tiger, and was All-American in 1983.
Kim Anderson: A junior forward on Norm Stewart’s first Big Eight Conference championship team in 1976. From 1982-2000, Anderson was an assistant coach for the Tigers, has coached Central Missouri men’s basketball teams to five NCAA DII Tournaments in the past six years.
Bob Burchard: currently the men’s basketball coach at Columbia College. The Cougars have advanced to the NAIA Men's National Basketball Championship 14 times during his tenure, including 13 of the past 16 seasons.
Behind a press conference table, between visibly emotional players, Alden seemed poised and calm as he mapped out Missouri's initial plans for a coach search.
A likely first step will be hiring a search firm to aid Alden and his core group of advisors — Executive Director Whit Babcock, Alden's assistant Gary Link, and deputy chancellor and professor of law Michael Middleton — in their search for a coach.
“I’d anticipate that we’re probably going to hire a search firm, a group that’s going to assist us," Alden said. "Really, that helps us not only to develop information but also to help protect the confidentiality of the candidates and other people.”
With a team assembled, the specifics Alden said Missouri will look for involve four characteristics:
- A focus on academic success.
- Ability to recruit on a national level.
- A mentor of good behavior on and off the court.
- A dedicated work ethic.
Beyond that, Alden stressed— perhaps because of Anderson's history of entertaining offers from other schools — the next coach must be dedicated to Missouri for a long time.
"We believe that our program at Mizzou has developed and continues to develop to a destination place," Alden said. "This needs to be a place that folks want to be at, and where they want to be for a long time."
The contract extension that was revoked when Anderson received permission to meet with Arkansas was believed to be $2 million annually. That price will not necessarily dictate the grounds of the new coach's paycheck.
“I wouldn’t want to get into specifics about pay,” Alden said.
But Alden did say he expects Missouri to be competitive.
“Certainly we are going to identify the right person with the right fit and be prepared to be competitive with the things we think we need to be doing," he said.
And perhaps most important in the long run, Alden said MU wants to hire a winner who can be successful while still upholding the characteristics believed to be a part of "the Missouri fabric."
"We have to win at a higher level, and we expect to win at a higher level," Alden said. "The person we recruit to come here has to understand that that’s what the expectations are."