Now that Arkansas has let head basketball coach John Pelphrey go after four seasons, everyone’s attention will now turn to who is next for the Razorbacks. As of now, the Arkansas opening may be the top available job in the 2011 coaching race.
Right now, from what we’re hearing, the man who should get the job is Missouri coach Mike Anderson. Emphasis on “should.” We’ve heard, and SportsByBrooks has also mentioned, that the Arkansas brass may not want Anderson in town because it would give former coach Nolan Richardson an excuse to be around the program. Richardson is Anderson’s mentor and left Arkansas under horrendous circumstances after citing racial discrimination, being dismissed and suing the university and its Board of Trustees.
That said, Anderson would seem a perfect fit for Arkansas if they would have him. I’d assume fans would be in favor of such a move, given Anderson’s success as a coach. In his five years at Missouri, Anderson has a 111-56 record (43-37 in Big 12) and took the Tigers to the Elite Eight in and won the school’s first Big 12 tournament in 2009. Before that he was the head coach at UAB, where he compiled an 89-41 record (42-20 in Conference USA) and took the Blazers to the NCAA tournament three times, including a Sweet Sixteen run in 2004.
The 51-year-old Anderson was an assistant at Arkansas from 1985-2002, which is the entire length of Richardson’s career in Fayetteville.
I understand Arkansas’ reticence to hire a Richardson disciple after all the controversy surrounding his departure, but the people in charge need to pick the right man for the job. As far as I can see it, Anderson is the right man, right now, for that job.
Tubby Smith’s name has also surfaced in the ever-churning rumor mill, and after the difficult season he’s had at Minnesota Smith might welcome a chance to move back south.
The other candidate out there appears to be Marquette’s Buzz Williams. The 38-year-old Williams is a beloved figure in Milwaukee, but unless the Golden Eagles up his salary there is a good chance he bolts for the big bucks an SEC school could throw his way.