Six weeks of waiting might turn into “40 Minutes of Hell.”
Forty-four days after Quin Snyder resigned as Missouri’s basketball coach, the school appears set to hire Alabama-Birmingham coach Mike Anderson today. According to multiple media reports citing unnamed sources, a deal between Missouri and Anderson is imminent.
The Web sites of The Kansas City Star and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as well as ESPN.com, reported Saturday that Anderson interviewed for the position in Dallas, where MU Athletic Director Mike Alden was conducting his coaching search, and met with Alden and Chancellor Brady Deaton on Saturday on the MU campus.
Anderson would be the first black coach hired to head a major sport at the University of Missouri.
A press conference could be held as early as this afternoon at Mizzou Arena to announce the hire, but none of MU’s officials would comment Saturday, not even to confirm Anderson had been interviewed.
Deaton, reached by phone Saturday evening, wouldn’t comment on any aspect of the coaching search.
“I’m not going to be making any comments about our coaching search,” Deaton said Saturday night. “I appreciate your interest. We will have future opportunities to talk.”
The ESPN.com report said the deal was only awaiting “presidential approval,” but UM System President Elson Floyd said Saturday night that he had not been told that a new coach had been hired, although he would expect to be notified when a coach was hired.
UAB sports information director Norm Reilly said earlier this week that MU had asked for and been granted permission to speak with Anderson, but said Saturday that neither he nor UAB’s interim athletic director had been officially informed that Anderson was leaving.
Snyder resigned after Missouri lost six-straight games and attendance lagged. Assistant coach Melvin Watkins took over on an interim basis. The Tigers finished the year 12-16.
Saturday, Watkins said he was not aware of Anderson’s potential hiring, and that he had yet to receive official word that he wasn’t being considered for the permanent head coach position.
“I’m sure I will be notified at some point,” said Watkins, who had recently returned from a recruiting trip. “I have not been told much of anything.”
Two independent investigations were conducted to examine the circumstances that led to Snyder’s exit. Meanwhile, the coaching search began what turned into a six-week process. Originally, the search committee consisted of four members, but earlier this week, Gary Link, a committee member and assistant to Alden, said that he and fellow members Jon Sundvold and Mario Moccia apparently would no longer be a part of the hiring process. Sundvold is a former MU player and current TV analyst and Moccia is a senior associate athletic director. On Saturday Link said he wasn’t aware of a decision being made on the next coach, and that he hadn’t talked to Alden since Wednesday.
Friday, former coach Norm Stewart spoke out against Alden in an interview with SI.com. Saturday, Stewart clarified that he had said only that given the athletic department’s recent problems he would understand a decision to fire Alden.
The UM System Board of Curators met Thursday and Friday in Rolla, ending with a closed executive meeting. The curators emerged with no comment on the status of Alden or the coaching search. The personnel portion of the meeting was believed to include a discussion of the athletic department, but curators David Wasinger, John Carnahan and Marion Cairns again declined comment Saturday. Cairns confirmed that no vote was taken at the meeting, but would not say whether a future vote, or other action, was forthcoming.
Anderson, 46, has coached the Blazers the past four seasons, leading them to three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. In 2004, UAB upset top-seeded Kentucky on its way to the Sweet 16. Anderson has a career record of 89-41.
Anderson began his coaching career in 1982 as a volunteer coach at the University of Tulsa under Nolan Richardson. In 1985, Richardson became coach at Arkansas and brought Anderson with him, making Anderson a full-time assistant in 1987. While with Arkansas, Anderson was part of a national championship team in 1994, and two other Final Four teams in 1990 and 1995.
In 2002, Anderson took over the UAB position and a team that finished the previous season with a 13-17 record. In his first year as coach, the Blazers improved to 21-13. In 2004, Anderson won the Ray Meyer Conference USA Coach of the Year award, leading the Blazers to a share of the conference’s regular-season championship for the first time.
UAB finished this past season with a record of 24-7 and finished second in Conference USA behind Memphis. The Blazers made the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed but lost 69-64 in the opening round to Kentucky.
Anderson is known for the “40 Minutes of Hell” type of play that he learned from Richardson. This style consists of fast-paced, full-court defensive pressure for the entire game.
Anderson has long been mentioned as a candidate at MU, which bypassed the opportunity to interview former Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins or former Utah coach Rick Majerus. Sundvold and Link advocated at least interviewing that pair, but Alden and Deaton decided against it, Sundvold said. Huggins was hired at Kansas State earlier this week.
Another candidate, Jamie Dixon, signed an extension this week that will keep him at Pittsburgh through 2013, and fellow Big East coach West Virginia’s John Beilein reportedly comes with a $3 million-plus buyout. According to a UAB press release from last year, Anderson had agreed to a contract with the school that will pay him $600,000 a year, up to $175,000 in incentives and a one-time buyout of $300,000 if he would leave the school prior to the contract’s 2010 expiration.