Missouri basketball coaching search: Howland vs. Anderson vs. Other

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Sunday live thread! Mizzou Softball goes for a series win at Florida at 10 a.m. CT after a Saturday loss (Gametracker), Baseball tries to salvage a game at Florida at noon CT (Gametracker), and Men's Golf continues play at the SEC Championships.

How secretive has Missouri's basketball coaching search been? Even the national guys are basically striking out. National guys like CBS' Gary Parrish (the guy who broke the Haith-to-Tulsa rumors).

In talking to countless people within the industry over the past 48 hours, the only names consistently mentioned by sources are former UCLA coach Ben Howland and Central Missouri coach Kim Anderson. To be clear, that doesn't mean there's not an under-the-radar candidate that could emerge hours before an official announcement because, remember, Cuonzo Martin's name was publicly unattached to the opening at California until he had already agreed to be California's next coach; sometimes secrets are kept.

So basically, Howland, Anderson, or Other. And the Other could be so random that it's pointless to try to guess. We've got Gregg Marshall playing coy with reporters, but more in a general "I'm not in the mood for this" way than any sort of "I've got something to hide" way. But if it's not Marshall (and obviously it's quite likely not), then it could be absolutely anybody.

This has been an amazingly well-kept secret, and as was pointed out in comments yesterday, the search firm Mike Alden hired for this one specializes in well-kept secrets.

A key element in our searches continues to be confidentiality for both the candidate and the client. The ability to maintain the prospective candidate’s identity until the final decision making process is key. Top candidates may not want to be considered for a high profile position unless the search firm has a reputation for maintaining the highest level of confidentiality. Eastman & Beaudine has built a reputation of being able to remain "under the radar" and maintain the highest level of confidentiality.

I'd say E&B has earned its money in this one.

Back to Parrish:

I've talked to multiple coaches in the past 48 hours who have been publicly attached to the Missouri opening, and every one of them has said they expect either Howland or Anderson to be named Missouri's next coach soon, and, for what it's worth, I'm hearing Howland more than I'm hearing Anderson.

In terms of general sentiment, analysts and fans both seemed to decide Howland was more likely than Anderson at some point yesterday. I agree with that sentiment ... at this exact moment, anyway. Right now I'm thinking something like 50% Howland, 30% Anderson, 20% Other, but we'll see. Those odds change by the millisecond. Regardless, one thing is certain: I'M STILL FLYING OUT OF COLUMBIA AT 1:05 TOMORROW AFTERNOON, AND I STILL WANT TO KNOW WHO THE DAMN COACH IS BEFORE THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT TELLS ME TO PUT MY PHONE IN AIRPLANE MODE.

As with Anderson, my general thoughts on Howland have warmed over the last week. Most negativity centered around the now-infamous Sports Illustrated report about him losing control of the program at UCLA. To be certain, he absolutely let the wrong influences in at Westwood. Bad-apple players, etc. In terms of recruiting, he seemed to become a victim of success -- he drew better recruits, got away from his roots (so to speak), and watched the results fade. That happens to a lot of coaches (and it bears mentioning that there weren't NCAA-related problems for him along the way), but it wouldn't necessarily happen again. As we like to say, he didn't suddenly forget how to coach, and a reset for him could work out nicely.

Or, he lost his touch or sense of direction and won't ever get it back. We have no idea ahead of time. There's a reason why Howland's still on the market at the moment: he is in no way a slam dunk. But his credentials make him a safer bet than many, and Missouri's just high enough on the totem pole (and he's just old enough that he wouldn't be incredibly attractive to a program higher up on the pole) that if Howland does get his groove back, he could be in Columbia for quite a while before retiring. The best-case scenario is pretty obvious and attractive, and the worst-case is probably better than most, too. He isn't a Marshall-esque slam dunk, but hiring him would be perfectly sensible.

Oh, and sorry, Gary.

Then Friday was highlighted by speculation by Mizzou fans (with screen names on message boards) that Villanova's Jay Wright was flying to Missouri to replace Frank Haith, as if it makes any sense for Wright, a Pennsylvania native with a preseason top-15 team, to leave Villanova to rebuild a program in a part of the country he's never lived.

(Sigh.)

For the record, we just tweeted this...

...and watched the world burn. We technically didn't start the rumors. Technically.

Back to waiting. 30 hours until the Curators' meeting.

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