Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Mizzou Mess

Another Update-A couple of hours since the last update...Alford issues a statement saying he's not scheduling any interviews for other jobs. Prior to that, KC Star reported he wasn't high on the Mizzou list...making one wonder if Alford was circulating his own name into the rumor mill...then backed off when it looked like he was stranded at Iowa anyway. Apparently he's not well liked in Iowa City..and may not be there long. So who's the man for Mizzou now?
Update-Minutes after posting this...reports by the Kansas City Star and indicate Huggins and Majerus have been rejected as candidates for the Mizzou job by Chancellor Brady Deaton...and AD Mike Alden. Former Mizzou star Jon Sundvold, who is a member of the search committee, indicates he's upset that the two weren't even given an interview. Apparently Iowa coach Steve Alford and Dana Altman of Creighton are emerging as front-runners who will be interviewed soon. It appears Alden is still swinging the most weight in the power structure of Mizzou athletics.
-Most sports fans in the Midwest have heard plenty about the on-going melodrama that surrounds the basketball coaching position at the University of Missouri. The situation has transcended the usual intrigue of hiring and firing a coach. There's the controversy surrounding the firing of coach Quin Snyder. Then the ensuing investigation...and follow-up investigation...and investigation of the investigation. The back and forth...pull and tug...yin and yang...of the various political factions at the athletic director's level...the university president...the chancellor...the board of curators...the wealthy alumni. It's a real plate of collegiate "power spaghetti".

Now...the same factions are beginning to insert themselves into the choice for a new basketball coach. And, this will be just as interesting. Of course, the day Snyder was fired/asked to resign/quit...whatever you believe...there were already twenty names being mentioned as possible successors. Now, as the serious suggestions begin to come forth from those asked for recommendations, it begins to get juicy. It will be intriguing to follow the situation and see what faction prevails...the school's academicians at the top of the management structure who tend to be interested in the educational experience at a university and, of course, their own job security...or the "win at all costs" sports management, athletic department contributors and alumni crowd.

The latest names to be "out there" for public scrutiny--Bob Huggins...the searly, but usually successful, former coach at Cincinnati noted as much for off-the-court problems as on-the-court victories. Rick Majerus...noted for his successful runs at Marquette and Utah, but also for his obesity, health problems, acceptance...and then immediate rejection...of the head coaching job at USC. These two guys are both qualified, as far as pure basketball is concerned, but would also bring along considerable baggage. Huggins is practically the poster boy for dirty basketball programs populated with players as close to prison as graduation. Majerus would have us all worried about whether he would actually live through each game he coaches. Defibrillators on the bench would be essential.

I'm betting that because of the controversy with Snyder, and Athletics Director Mike Alden's questionable role in it, the people farther up the food chain at the university will have the final call on this one. That would put the decision in the hands of the non-basketball, "learned ones" at the school. In that case, it would be likely the egg-heads would pick someone with less basketball pizazz...and more squeaky clean man the hoops helm. They would be more interested in someone who would fly further under the radar and keep their names out of the headlines. A coach, in their minds, should be more about graduation rates than RPI....more about giving young men a valuable educational experience than a ticket to the pros.

So, given that, the names that make the most sense would be Mike Anderson of UAB, Dana Altman of Creighton, Kim Anderson of Central Missouri, Jim Larranaga of George Mason, Steve Alford of Iowa, Jim Les of Bradley, Chris Lowery of SIU. (I still think Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt should be considered).

There might be a surprise name out there that hasn't surfaced...but to get immediate interest back into the basketball program they would need to hire someone with a decent resume'. And, whoever they hire, they should get it done quickly. If recruiting new players into the program is of any priority, and it should be, they need to make a splash with the news before the NCAA tournament is over. The new coach should have the opportunity to make some headlines during March and then set about bringing in some student-athletes...(you know, that's what they call the "unpaid professionals" known as college basketball players).

One thing is for sure, whatever is done with the basketball coach, the Mizzou athletics situation as a whole has been exposed as disfunctional to the brink of comedy to the Midwest, if not the entire country. Somebody besides Snyder should be out looking for work by now. How far up the university ladder did leadership fail? All the way up? Seems that way to me.

No comments: