Missouri basketball coaching search: Kim Anderson, Gregg Marshall, and one big kabuki dance

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Entering Day 5 of Missouri's basketball coaching search, news is confusing, and non-news is news.

So apparently things turned silly last night on the Internet. In the late-afternoon, ESPN's Andy Katz posted this:

Central Missouri coach and Missouri alumnus Kim Anderson is a strong candidate for the vacant Missouri opening, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Anderson is being termed one of a few finalists for the opening, which occurred last week when Frank Haith left for Tulsa after three seasons.

The source said a decision on the next Missouri coach would be made within a week.

A few hours later, that had turned into this:

Now, for all we know, this is dead-on accurate, and the moment this post goes up, Mike Alden will call a press conference for these purposes. But ... let's just say there are questions still on the table. Like...

...why didn't Andy Katz think to ask who the other finalists were?

...if Mike Alden indeed uses a search firm and "has not yet contacted Gregg Marshall" (as linked below), then how is there already a list of finalists at all?

...and who in the hell is Sam Richardson?

Again, this could be real. This morning, Gabe Dearmond, who wrote "I'm just telling you it's not going to happen" on Saturday, is acknowledging that there might be something to this. For all we know, Mike Alden saw something in the Division II finals -- a nationally televised game that Central Missouri won, 84-77, over West Liberty -- that convinced him that, even though he has passed over Kim Anderson three times already, this really might be the guy for the job. Maybe he's done research on the D2-to-D1 transition and is convinced it might work. Maybe he's talked to Anderson intermediaries and is convinced that he could mold together a staff of Anderson and a key Haith assistant like Tim Fuller (or some other "ace recruiter" type). Maybe Alden's given up and decided, "Screw it, they're going to keep bugging me about this until I give in."

Or maybe Missouri boosters just influential enough to be SOURCES!! are really, really, REALLY pushing for Kim Anderson to be Missouri's next head coach, and it's muddying the waters. The former is on the table, but at this stage I think the latter is still more likely.

If there's a finalists list, it's quite conceivable that Anderson is on it, though I'd love to know why when he wasn't in 2006 or 2011. And again, if this really is all a load of crap (or at least half-crap), it does nothing but hurt both Kim Anderson and Missouri. The section of Missouri's fanbase that still thinks that Mizzou will never succeed without a Norm influence is getting fired up and is getting ready to once again be terribly disappointed.

At this point, these rumors better be real. The alternative scenario is one in which people with money and an unending desire for things to be like they used to be (because things were always better how they used to be, of course) are making Mike Alden's job unnecessarily harder just because. And while I have serious concerns about the thought of Anderson getting this job, I would still take that over this other reality.

Moving on...

On Marshall:

PowerMizzou: Marshall hasn't heard from Mizzou
KC Star: Agent: Missouri has not contacted Gregg Marshall about basketball job
The Trib: Marshall's agent says no call yet
PowerMizzou: Quick Look: Gregg Marshall

The big news/non-news before the evening came when Dearmond and others reported that Gregg Marshall's agent hadn't heard from Mizzou yet. Because this is all one giant kabuki dance, we had already been conditioned to understand that this could mean anything from "Mizzou has contacted them through a third party," to "Mizzou is still working with a search firm and hasn't contacted anybody yet," to "Mizzou hasn't contacted Marshall and will not do so." It could be Step 1 to him being hired here, and it could be that Mizzou isn't going after him at all.

Of course, that didn't stop some corners of the Mizzou Internet from freaking out, calling the search a complete disaster, and demanding that Mike Alden be fired. That's part of the kabuki dance, too.

By the way, the dance is really, really annoying once you've been through it once or twice. It's exhilarating the first time. By the third time, you just want to skip to the ending.

Bottom line: any news other than "Marshall officially turns Mizzou down" is, in effect, good news. Even when it's not supposed to be. Because kabuki.

On Fuller:

The Trib (Steve Walentik): Some thoughts with MU's coaching search underway

Fuller did not follow Haith to Tulsa as assistant coach Dave Leitao did, nor did director of basketball operations Bryan Tibaldi. The next coach could decide to keep one or both around for continuity.

CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello also reported that Fuller is among the candidates for the vacant head coaching job at Florida A&M, though his interest in that job might be determined by what opportunities he has in Columbia or at another high-major program.

Fuller's contract at Missouri has paid him $270,000, more than a lot of low-major programs have the means to offer. Coach Clemon Johnson was making $150,000 when fired at Florida A&M after going 14-18 last season. [...]

He could help Missouri prevent signees Jakeenan Gant and Namon Wright, both top-100 recruits, from requesting to be released from the National Letters of Intent they signed in November.

You don't want to make a hiring decision based on retaining a couple of specific recruits -- short-term thinking often fails in the long-term -- but I do think that the further down the list Mike Alden goes, the more positive it would be to retain Tim Fuller. For instance, I don't know if Kim Anderson and Tim Fuller have ever even met, but I do know that the main hesitation for a lot of people regarding Anderson (a very justifiable concern about his quality of recruiting) would be assuaged if Fuller were retained.

But while we always try to make this easier than it is -- "Sure, Fuller will have other opportunities, but why wouldn't he want to coach with Kim Anderson??? Boom! Problem solved!" -- if the right hire here doesn't involve Fuller in any way, then so be it. I like Fuller, but I want the right hire, whoever that might be.

Allow me to put on my FJM hat for a moment

The Missourian: Missouri basketball potential coaching candidates are Marshall, Painter, Anderson

For the fourth time in 15 seasons, Missouri athletics director Mike Alden is looking to hire a men’s basketball coach.

His previous three hires (Quin Snyder, Mike Anderson and Frank Haith) have made 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, but only twice have the Tigers advanced to the Sweet 16. The program has never reached the Final Four.

Using "Sweet 16" instead of "Elite Eight" reeks of "We want this to sound as bad as possible."

Missouri has been competitive on the hardwood during Alden’s tenure, and the Tigers have had flashes of greatness (Elite Eight appearances in 2002 and 2009 and the Big 12 Tournament Title in 2012) but have failed to consistently be an above-average program.

Nine NCAA Tournament appearances in 15 years, with just two losing records, is pretty much the dead-on definition of "consistently above-average program." Above-average may not be good enough, but let's not make this worse than it is. All three of Alden's hires have had either great NCAA Tourney runs (Quin, Anderson) or great seasons (Anderson, Haith). Missouri's last 15 years could have been so, so much worse than they were. We could have had a whole lot more of 2004-08 with a whole lot less of 2002, 2009, and 2012.

The article goes on to call Matt Painter a candidate with no sourcing beyond "He was a candidate last time."

Let's just say I was not impressed with this article.

Pretty much

KC Star: What’s real is no slam dunk in coaching searches

Kabuki.

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