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Mike Anderson vs Doc Sadler

I've been exchanging e-mails with a friend of mine for the last 24 hours or so, debating who has done/is doing a better job at their current job: Mike Anderson or Doc Sadler. Being that I've spent a decent amount of time writing these up, I figured I could turn it into a post. I'm an effort maximizer.

This e-debate came about because of Doc Sadler's now 5-1 record head-to-head versus Anderson. Almost three years ago, Anderson was hired at Mizzou, Sadler at Nebraska and Jeff Capel at OU, and they've all had varying levels of success in highly varied circumstances. I'll save the Capel debate for another time--he's 18-15 without Blake Griffin (who was an almost total lock to go to OU no matter who was hired as coach) and 36-13 with him, and OU would have at least two more losses this season without him, possibly four. If Anderson had taken the OU job, he'd probably be succeeding at a similar level. Or not. Like I said, I'm not ready to have that debate, so forget I said anything. Back to Sadler.

I figure most look at head-to-head success in one of two ways: 1) Sure it matters, but not really--teams play 30 other games a season too, or 2) You're 5-1 against another coach? You're a better coach. You can probably guess that I'm in the (1) camp (I'm a "big picture" kind of guy), but there are tons in the (2) camp. But since it fits my tendencies, let's look at the big picture.

When you're trying to compare two coaches, I'd say you've got about six questions to ask:

  1. How have they done head-to-head?
  2. How have they done overall?
  3. What kind of situation did they step into?
  4. What kind of roster did they inherit?
  5. What good wins do they have?
  6. What bad losses do they have?

After the jump, we take a look at those six questions.

How have they done head-to-head?

Sadler 5, Anderson 1.

How have they done overall?

In 2.5 years, Sadler is 48-30, 14-20 in conference. Anderson is 47-31, 13-21 in conference.

What kind of situation did they step into?

In the two years before Sadler, NU went 33-28, 16-20 in conference.
In the two years before Anderson, MU went 28-33, 13-22 in conference.

In the three years before Sadler, NU went 51-41, 22-31 in conference.
In the three years before Anderson, MU went 44-47, 23-30 in conference.

Oh, and Mizzou was on probation for one more year stemming from the Quin Snyder administration. I'm not going to say that Nebraska was a better job 2.5 years ago (or today), but there's no doubting that Nebraska was in better shape as a program.

What kind of roster did they inherit?

Sadler inherited a decent roster with some experienced players and a 2-time all-conference center.

Anderson inherited a decent roster with lots of underclassmen, no all-conference talent, and because of one more year of probation, not a full load of scholarships.

Mizzou's recruiting classes had been better overall in previous years, but there was only one all-conference caliber player on either roster (unless Good Leo makes lots of appearances over the next two months), and it was Aleks Maric.

Plus, Mike Anderson's "grace period" recruiting class (what I call a coach's first full-year recruiting class, where recruits are most likely to buy the "I'm gonna turn this thing around" talk with no questions asked) had all of one scholarship to give. Doc Sadler signed NINE guys in that class, meaning he was able to more quickly turn his team into a "my program, my kind of recruits" roster.

What good wins do they have?

We'll define 'good wins' as wins over Top 40 teams.

Creighton (06-07)
Oklahoma (07-08)

Arkansas (06-07)
Texas (07-08)
California (08-09)

Anderson leads, 3-2. Neither total is impressive, but technically Mike Anderson has the advantage.

What bad losses do they have?

We'll define 'bad losses' as losses to a team ranked outside of the Top 150 by

Rutgers (06-07)
Colorado (06-07)
Colorado (07-08)
Iowa State (07-08)
Oregon State (08-09)
UM-Baltimore County (08-09)

Iowa State (07-08)

Anderson leads, 6-1. This is perhaps Anderson's biggest advantage--after the years of Sam Houston and Belmont, Missouri is very consistently beating the teams they should be beating, and among other disappointments, this is a bright spot.

So Sadler took over a team that had been over .500 for the three years before he arrived, armed with a future all-conference center, and has won at a .615 clip. Granted, both his and Anderson's win percentages will fall over the next two months as they play more and more real teams, but for now that's an improvement of between about 0.057 (over the previous three years) and 0.071 (over the previous two) in the win percentage department. He has two really good wins and six awful losses.

Anderson took over a below-.500 program, with no all-conference talent outside of maybe Leo Lyons (he's got two months to live up to the potential...and I'm not optimistic), and has improved them between 0.118 (over the previous three years) and 0.143 (over the previous two) in win percentage. Advantage: Mike Anderson.

Now, while Anderson has outperformed Sadler in this regard, there are three other minor factors working against Anderson:

1) Expectations are higher in Columbia. Mizzou has had more and more recent success than NU...then again, judging by the attendance, there's little to no pressure on Anderson because nobody cares.

2) Athena-gate. I tend to be pretty forgiving of the involvement of Anderson recruits Hannah and Butterfield, as they were JUCO kids he had to recruit in an abbreviated timeframe, but others are understandably less forgiving.

3) Postseason apperances. NU did make the NIT last year, and Anderson has yet to make the postseason. Now, all I care about in the end is the NCAA Tournament (making the '05 NIT with a young team didn't exactly help Quin Snyder's momentum any), and Anderson has a much better chance of doing that soon than Sadler does, but facts are facts, and Sadler's made the postseason.

So what does everybody think? Mizzou was looking into Sadler 2.5 years ago, but they ended up with Anderson. Is that a good thing, or would Doc be having more success in Columbia right now?