Don’t expect offers to stop for Anderson

Posted on July 21, 2010


The following was originally published on April 19, 2010 at Bleacher Report.

Missouri Tiger fans can exhale now.

Although, according to Mike Anderson, he never really gave them much of a reason to hold their breath.

One day after Missouri released a statement that officially put an end to more than two days of speculation and rampant conjecture as to whether Anderson would accept an offer to become the next head basketball coach at the University of Oregon, the man himself on Sunday told Missouri fans what they were hoping to hear some 48 hours earlier.

Telling reporters at a press conference in Columbia that his time speaking with former Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny over the weekend was merely a means of “gathering information” that he owed to his family, Anderson reaffirmed his allegiance to the Tigers.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “Missouri is a special place for Mike Anderson and his family.”

And so it ends. The rumor mill can stop spinning. The message boards will receive some relief after being deluged for a majority of the weekend. MU fans can stop compiling lists of possible successors.

I agree, the man’s silence was maddening. Why didn’t Anderson came right out and say he wasn’t interested in the Oregon job? He’s got a good thing going at Missouri, and things look to be getting even better.

The MU administration, which initiated the idea for Anderson’s recent seven-year contract extension, has shown more than enough support. The fan base is as energized as it has been since the final days of Norm Stewart’s reign. And Anderson, who just sewed up a top-five best recruiting classes, is building a program that is quickly ascending to join the nation’s elite.

So, why even think about ruining a good thing, and torturing the MU fanatics, by prolonging your disinterest in working elsewhere?

Well, when you approach the situation logically, all it came down to was a few rounds of golf and a man looking out for the best interests of his wife and children.

Anderson, who has led Missouri to an Elite Eight in two NCAA Tournament appearances, is assured of receiving escalating interest from programs around the country (Photo: AP)

Anderson said he “listened” to Oregon’s overtures, which included a chance to resurrect another dilapidated program, as well as the opportunity to open up the Ducks’ new $227 million arena and rub elbows with the school’s main benefactor—Nike founder Phil Knight.

And then there was the little matter of making upwards of $2.5 million a season, in excess of $1 million more than Anderson’s current salary.

When he wasn’t lending an open ear to what the Ducks had to offer him and his family, Anderson was enjoying time away from the game, participating in a golf tournament held by friend and mentor Nolan Richardson in El Paso, Texas.

Granted, most of us guys don’t get paid millions to coach a game we love. We have more than enough stress in our lives, and a popular release for that tension involves playing golf on weekends.

It’s a time to get away, and the last thing we want to talk about is work. Perhaps downing about six or seven beers is definitely a possibility, but discussing the office is not on the agenda.

Does Anderson’s job title as the head coach of a Division I basketball program not entitle him to a similar respite from his work?

And what about the job proposal? Assuming you couldn’t be happier at your current job, would you still not at least give significant consideration to an offer than featured a better salary? And would part of that consideration not include talking the prospects over with your spouse or significant other?

Anderson has given every indication that he is happy at Missouri, but in today’s world of big-money college athletics, contentment is a relative term. For his sake, as well as that of his family, Anderson had to at least mull over Oregon’s offer.

The Ducks approached him, so, logically, he heard them out. Anderson was sure to point out that it wasn’t the other way around.

“One thing about me is, I’m not a guy that goes out and tries to find jobs,” he said. “You’ve got guys out there right now, every job, they’re trying to get involved in. I don’t do that. So, with that being said, I personally don’t think so. People may use it, but again, I think people that know me, people that know me, I’m not a money guy. I’m not.”

If nothing else, this little soap opera may lead Anderson to appreciate the Tigers even more.

In retrospect, it’s possible Anderson never even thought about bolting for Oregon. He will be the head basketball coach at the University of Missouri next season and presumably for the foreseeable future.

But Anderson’s commitment to building a national power in Columbia won’t deter other programs from continuing to make romantic and financially charged advances.

Anderson’s unique philosophy and approach to the game have won him accolades from fellow coaches. Athletic directors and officials from other schools appreciate the manner in which he runs his program, which places little emphasis on individual stardom and instead glorifies the team game.

Georgia and Alabama came calling prior to last season. And Oregon, though some reports claim Anderson was the Ducks’ fifth choice, was willing to pay top dollar for a coach they thought could rebuild a moribund program.

And many seem to feel it’s only a matter of time before Anderson’s former employer, the Arkansas Razorbacks, will undertake a spirited campaign to welcome the former UA assistant home to replace current head coach John Pelphrey.

Anderson is as hot of a commodity as they come. He’s experienced success where ever he’s been. And for every offer that Anderson turns down, he’ll draw interest from schools who, despite the coach’s loyalty to MU, are aware of his willingness to discuss any and every possibility.

And, like this particular saga, Anderson may end up doing nothing but listen.

But that won’t stop Missouri fans from holding their breath.

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