Mizzou Basketball Coaching Search: Where Do We Stand?

Once the table was set during MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA™ last summer, all that was left to do was keep tabs on all the different options.  Guess it's time to do the same with what could, if Mike Alden gets his way, be a very boring coaching search (if drama's your thing).  Below are all the coaches we reviewed over the weekend (sans Ron Prince and Kim Anderson, anyway), in the order we reviewed them.  The arrows are back!!

Matt Painter

Around Thursday night or so, 90% of Rock M readers had decided that there was no way in hell Matt Painter would leave Purdue for Mizzou.  And they still may be proven correct.  But as word has spread about the size of Mizzou's potential offer, and Painter's at-odds relationship with the Purdue A.D., and the Purdue A.D.'s tight purse strings ... well, things certainly seem infinitely more realistic than they did just a few days ago.  We've seen rumors of a 7-year, $2.2 million/year deal (or a smaller deal with higher salaries for Painter's assistants), which is almost certainly much higher than Purdue would be willing to go, so the question, then, becomes ... how much of a hometown discount will Painter give his alma mater?

(It really is strange how reading Hammer and Rails feels like reading Rock M Nation a week ago.  Things for them have gone from casual dismissal to outright fear very quickly, just like they did for us.  Obviously Mizzou and Painter don't have a history like Mike Anderson did with Arkansas, so this has sneaked up on them more than it did us, but the dynamics are very, very similar, right down to the "Why won't he just come out and deny all this? Why isn't he saying anything right now??" vibe.  Add to that the alma mater issue, and ... really, this would somewhat be like if Purdue had realistically pursued Norm Stewart in the mid-1970s.  It just feels odd, even if it's realistic.)

How confident am I in Painter coming to Columbia?  Put me at 50% at this point.  It was about 5% on Thursday and 20% on Friday, and it has continued to rise slightly with every new rumble; but I'm still only at about 50%.  The good news is, supposedly we'll find out soon, one way or another -- rumor has it, he has been given a Tuesday decision deadline.  I love that.  However unrealistic I thought this was at the end of last week, I fully supported Mike Alden's pursuit of Painter, simply because there is no harm in aiming high.  And as long as Painter turns Mizzou down quickly, it doesn't really change any of the dynamics of the search.  Sure, a few of the supposed backups are falling off the list, but a lot aren't, and as long as Mizzou's pursuit of Painter is over by Final Four weekend, Alden won't have missed out on much.

Man oh man, would this be a good hire.  Losing a good coach and replacing him with a four-time Big Ten coach of the year?  Sign me up.  But I'm still refusing to get my hopes up too much just yet.

Scott Sutton

Sutton was on the original list Chris Gervino threw out on Wednesday night after Mike Anderson's departure, but it doesn't look like this is too realistic an option right now.

Brian Gregory

It looks like Gregory is on his way to Georgia Tech.

Gregg Marshall

As far as I can tell, the only people who have thrown this name out are fans; we've semi-officially heard a few names, and he isn't one of them.  Still, if Painter turns Mizzou down, I won't at all be surprised to hear Marshall's name suddenly pop up.

Cuonzo Martin

Martin was named Tennessee head coach yesterday, and for a dollar amount (and number of years) higher than any of us expected him to get from Missouri if they had pursued him.  Plus, Martin has as many ties to Tennessee (none) as he did to Missouri, so it's not like he was going to be waiting around for Mizzou or anything.

Some expressed concern that Martin wouldn't have accepted the Tennessee job if he thought there was a chance the Purdue job was opening up soon.  But with as good an offer as he got from Tennessee, not to mention the fact that if Painter has issues with the Purdue A.D., there's nothing saying Martin really wanted that job anyway (he is, after all, officially getting paid more than Painter now).  I say he jumped to UT because it's a solid opportunity with a great contract.  Good for him.  And I guess we might have to worry about fighting Tennessee for some StL-area recruits in the near future.

Buzz Williams

All indications are that Williams is about to sign a lucrative extension with Marquette.  Williams hasn't ever been on any semi-official Missouri list anyway, so this likely affects Oklahoma's coaching search more than Mizzou's.

Chris Mack

Rumor has it that Mack turned down an 8-year, lucrative contract offer from Tennessee to stay with Xavier.  Granted, Tennessee's likely going to get hit by some NCAA sanctions soon, but still ... I can't imagine he would take a Missouri offer much more seriously than he took the Tennessee offer.

Randy Bennett

Another name bandied about only by writers and fans like yours truly.  It's never been that likely that Bennett would move to the midwest for the long-term anyway.

Shaka Smart

If Painter turns Missouri down, the odds of them zeroing in on one candidate before the Final Four starts are rather slim, so by all indications, Smart is still a viable option.  But knowing how pragmatic Mike Alden tends to be, Smart may have priced himself out of the Missouri job with his team's incredible performance this weekend.  If Cuonzo Martin got $1.5 million/year from Tennessee, then Smart could be potentially looking at $1.75 to $2 million from somebody ... and I just can't see Alden paying that much for somebody with just two years of head coaching experience, even if he's taken his team to more Final Fours than Mizzou has ever seen.  I could be wrong, though.

Josh Pastner

Like Bennett and Marshall, Pastner is only a name tossed around by us.  He's another guy with just two years of head coaching experience, and as I said from the beginning, Memphis has the money to match whatever Mizzou tried to offer anyway.  Chalk Pastner up as "not bloody likely."

Chris Mooney

Mooney just inked a 10-year extension with Richmond ... he won't be leaving for another job this offseason.

Ben Jacobson

This is just a hunch, but I'm growing more comfortable in saying that if Painter turns Mizzou down, Jacobson becomes the most likely No. 2 option.  "Sources" (AHHHHHHHH) told PowerMizzou that Mizzou inquired about Jacobson, which, in and of itself, doesn't mean much ... but that's a step further than Mizzou seems to have gone with just about anybody else on this list.

Other Names

So of 12 names above, four are off the table, and another four seem incredibly unrealistic.  That leaves, basically, Painter, Jacobson and potentially Marshall or Smart.  If Painter says no, I doubt Alden feels strongly enough about one of those candidates to jump quickly, so if Mizzou is still looking for a coach by about Wednesday, I expect the search to take another week or, possibly, two.  And if that's the case, expect other names to begin to emerge as possibilities.  Maybe Alabama's Anthony Grant, BYU's Dave Rose or Tulsa's Doug Wojcik (though he could be an Oklahoma possibility too).  Maybe an assistant like Texas' Russ Springmann or St. John's Mike Dunlap.  Maybe Cincinnati's Mick Cronin (though I figure Cincy's going to try like hell to lock him down as quickly as possible).  Hell, maybe Brad Stevens (just kidding ... mostly ... Josh Kroenke would need to personally donate about $1 million/year to the pot for this to happen, no?).  There is no telling.  I could have plenty more coaching profiles to write later this week.

Then again, as quickly as Alden jumped at Painter, he might already have his No. 2 lined up for pursuit by tomorrow evening, and we might have a coach by Thursday regardless.

Summary

If I'm 50% confident in Painter at this point, I guess that means the current odds -- as I see them -- line up like this:

  • Matt Painter (50%)
  • Ben Jacobson (25%)
  • Shaka Smart (10%)
  • Gregg Marshall (5%)
  • Other (10%)

That might be too high for Smart -- somebody is going to be whipping out the checkbook for Shaka in a major way, and if he's just a backup option for Missouri at this point, then Missouri is really not a player at all.  Knowing Alden's long-term tendencies, I find Jacobson a much more realistic option than Smart at this point, but I'm curious to see what other names do emerge if Painter isn't driving to Columbia by Wednesday morning.  And if no names emerge immediately, then maybe Alden really is preparing to go at Smart (or Stevens, ahem) after the Final Four.

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