COLUMBIA — In the hours after Mike Anderson was announced as University of Arkansas' new head men's basketball coach, sports commentators from across Missouri began to discuss the move and to speculate about MU's search for a new head coach.
Here’s what they had to say:
Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star said that Missouri basketball is better off without Anderson. He described Anderson’s time in Columbia as five “mostly eh seasons,” and said that “on a scale of one to 10, Anderson performed like a 6 and figured out a way to be paid like a 9.”
He described Anderson’s new $2.2 million salary as “sports’ biggest overachievement since Andy Roddick married Brooklyn Decker.”
For Mellinger, there was the upside — Missouri doesn’t have to pay Anderson. According to him, Missouri fans should expect an upgrade, and MU has the money to pay coaches like Minnesota's Tubby Smith, Marquette’s Buzz Williams and St. Mary’s Randy Bennett.
Blair Kerkhoff, Mellinger’s colleague at the Star, compiled a list of possible candidates, as did the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz. Both listed Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin, Butler’s Brad Stevens, Purdue’s Matt Painter, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Shaka Smart and Dayton’s Brian Gregory.
Miklasz also wrote an editorial analyzing Anderson’s time at Missouri and his departure. In a less negative tone than Mellinger, he described how Anderson rejuvenated the program and “made Missouri basketball matter again.” He also discussed Anderson’s ties to Arkansas — it’s “in his DNA”— and said that he can’t “rip him (Anderson) for feeling a personal pull from Fayetteville, for responding to the need to return to home, to his roots.”
Miklasz pointed out that this is the nature of college basketball coaching and soon Missouri will lure another team’s coach to Columbia. He blamed MU Athletics Director Mike Alden for “trusting a man who already had shown little regard for honoring a commitment.”
As far as the coaching search, Miklasz said that “the new guy won't have to worry about replacing a legend, or succeeding a wildly successful, popular coach. The new man is replacing a coach who ran away, so he'll be fully embraced by Mizzou fans.” Alden needs to find a coach who is a “Missouri man,” Miklasz said, someone who “won't be slumming for another job, an increased payday, as soon as he wins a few games.”
Outside the state, Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman agreed with Miklasz that Anderson’s actions are typical of any college basketball coach. He describes coaches as “itinerant workers” without roots or ties to teams or schools. He said that “football coaches are veritable Supreme Court appointees compared to basketball coaches.”
The Fort Worth Star Telegram's Mac Engel blogged that while Anderson had revived the Missouri program, the Tigers had peaked under his guidance. "So if you're a Tigers fan, this is not a bad deal. You say 'Thanks for rebuilding us' and hire the guy who can get you where you've never been before."