Missouri Basketball coaching search: The hot-list hot list, April 23

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Floyd emerges as a potential candidate for the Missouri coaching job, but until Gregg Marshall officially says no, signs still point to him being the No. 1 choice.

I closed my laptop at 8:45 p.m. last night and turned my attention to books/television. The tweets began at 8:54.

On Floyd:

The Trib: Source: Floyd's interest in Missouri believed to be reciprocated

So Floyd's definitely interested, and Mizzou might be, too. Granted, that's not as spicy a rumor as what emerged late the previous night ("Kim Anderson's agreed to a deal!"), but it's certainly a new twist. Until Gregg Marshall officially says no, all signs still point to him being the No. 1 candidate, but since we all accept that the odds of landing Marshall are not fantastic, we're watching the jockeying for the No. 2 spot, and if Mizzou is interested at all in Tim Floyd, that automatically makes Floyd No. 2 or No. 3 on the list, simply because we don't have confirmation of much else beyond Floyd and Anderson.

So why would Mizzou be interested in Floyd? And if Alden indeed likes Floyd, why not Ben Howland, too?

Floyd's in an interesting case. Apparently USC muck doesn't wash off very easily. In 2010, Floyd was cleared of wrongdoing by the NCAA, and yet the general college basketball observer likely believes he wasn't. In the perceptions game, Floyd is below Howland in terms of sleaze, but it's quite possible that Mike Alden looked into this and saw a) no actual, sustained charges against Floyd and b) that concrete, tough-to-read Sports Illustrated report against Ben Howland. That might make Floyd more hirable than Howland.

While we're throwing educated guesses out there -- and while we're putting words in Mike Alden's mouth -- why else might Floyd be more attractive than Howland? Southern ties, maybe. Floyd was born in Hattiesburg, Miss. He walked on at Southern Miss, then transferred to Louisiana Tech. His coaching career began at La. Tech. After a couple of years restoring respectability at Idaho, his first real attention came as the head coach at the University of New Orleans, where he won 126 games in six years and made the NCAAs twice. (That's a tough job, too. Tic Price took UNO to the NCAAs two years after Floyd left, and the Privateers haven't been back since. They even briefly dropped out of Division I a few years ago.)

So he has ties to the South, has reached the NCAA Tournament at New Orleans (twice in six years, plus three NIT appearances), Iowa State (three times in four years), and USC (three times in four years), and after a brief rebuild, he has built UTEP back up a bit, from 7-9 in Conference USA in 2011-12 to 12-4 in 2013-14.

Floyd has a strong reputation as an Xs-and-Os guy, and he's won in all sorts of different (college) locales. (He failed in a no-win situation with the Chicago Bulls following the departures of Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, etc., but nobody was going to win there. He went to the New Orleans Hornets for a year and made the playoffs but apparently wasn't liked much by ownership and was dumped.) Plus, he has a Mizzou-esque sensibility when it comes to creating awkward P.R. for himself -- he was brave/dumb enough to take the Bulls job and wreck his résumé to a degree, he shoots his mouth off from time to time, and again, the casual observer likely thinks he got nailed for USC's wrongdoings.

Tim Floyd likely has a better case to make for the Missouri job than many of us realized. So why NOT Floyd?

1. He's 60. This would be his "one last chance." There's nothing inherently wrong with this, I guess, but as fans/alums of the school that produced Norm Stewart (and, more recently, Gary Pinkel, who is entering his 14th year in charge), we tend to justifiably look at candidates from the "Might he coach here 30 years under the right circumstances?" lens. Tim Floyd will be 90 in 30 years. And if we're holding age against Kim Anderson (58) and Ben Howland (56), we obviously have to do so with Floyd, even if he still only looks about 50. (Well done, Coach.)

(Counterpoint: 61-year old Lon Kruger is doing well at Oklahoma, 114-year old Larry Brown is doing well at SMU, etc.)

2. Perception, reality, etc. Cleared or not, Tim Floyd does still have some muck on him from USC, and hiring him would almost certainly result in some pithy "Mizzou claims to have character, but..." pieces. If he acts with character at Mizzou (and wins, ahem), all would be forgiven in that regard, but in the short-term, it would give cheap-shot columnists (of which there are plenty near Mizzou) fodder for cheap shots.

(Counterpoint: Cheap shot columnists -- well, one in particular -- managed to turn Mizzou's handling of the Michael Sam situation into a bad thing for Missouri. They'll always come up with fodder whether they actually have any or not.)

3. This hire would not put butts in seats. Mike Alden appears concerned with attendance, and part of the rationale of going after either Gregg Marshall or Kim Anderson is that, with both of them, it would get the fanbase jazzed up and paying attention again. This would not be the case with Tim Floyd.

(Counterpoint: Splashy hires only put butts in seats for about a year. After that, fans will show up if you win. If you don't, they eventually won't. If Floyd wins, it's all good.)

There's no need for an actual "hot-list hot list" at the moment since most of the current analysis is on two or three names. But at the moment, we'll slot Floyd in at No. 3 on the list behind Marshall and Anderson. And now we wait for more concrete information.

What's up with Choice No. 1?

Post-Dispatch: Is Mizzou's top target eager to leave Wichita State?

Earlier in the week, Marshall’s agent, Myles Solomon, said his client had not been contacted by Missouri. But in a phone interview Tuesday with the Post-Dispatch, Solomon’s tone shifted. Asked about Missouri’s vacancy, Solomon declined to comment on any current job openings, including Missouri’s situation.

"I’m going to stay away from any talk about searches," Solomon said. [...]

"As basketball goes, he’s very well compensated," Solomon said. "He’s got a top 20 salary. He’s at the program that’s considered at the pinnacle of the league he’s in. It’s very attractive all around."

The shift in agent tone -- part of the kabuki dance -- possibly means that Missouri has officially been in touch. It could also mean that Marshall simply told him to "stay away from any talk about searches." Part of the dance is that we can interpret every single tidbit in 13 different ways. Fun, right?

Overall, this is another example of no real news being good news. As we've all been saying since Monday, every day that passes without Marshall officially turning Missouri down is a good day for Missouri. (Well, at least until this search has been dragging on for a while. We're not there yet, though.)

And what's up with potential Choice No. 2?

Because Monday was Kim Anderson Day in the search, there were quite a few pieces about him yesterday. They didn't say a whole lot -- we still don't really know what level of interest Mizzou has, and we still don't know for sure that he'd reciprocate -- but at this point we have to figure that he's certainly on the list. Can't say that about many others.

The Trib: Anderson linked to Missouri opening
KC Star: Former player says Kim Anderson would be 'no-brainer' as new MU coach
KC Star: MU reaches out to Kim Anderson, still no contact with Gregg Marshall
Post-Dispatch: Kim Anderson won’t talk about report linking him to Mizzou

Finally...

A couple of days ago, Gabe Dearmond mentioned that the average basketball coaching search by Alden has lasted about 11 days. Wednesday will be the fifth full day of the search, and while you're always in a "the sooner, the better" situation with these things, it's not like there are a lot of other schools on the market right now. Missouri doesn't really have to hurry to beat other schools to a given candidate.

That said, I do figure we'll learn for sure about Gregg Marshall in the next day or two. A source (SOURCES!!) told me that the original plan was to interview candidates Wednesday and Thursday, and while the plan changes ... well, it's Wednesday. So we'll find out soon if the plan has changed, huh?

Post-Dispatch: Mizzou's next coach faces challenges
Post-Dispatch (Gordon): Tipsheet: Intrigue builds with MU coaching search
KC Star: Mizzou basketball program far from being pushed to the sidelines

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