Two years ago it was Georgia and last year it was Oregon.
Missouri Tigers head coach Mike Anderson has talked with schools about job openings the last two years and turned them both down. It appears that, for the third consecutive year, Mizzou fans are going to be hearing the name Mike Anderson attached to another school.
ESPN's Doug Gottlieb said on 810 WHB this week (the same interview where he was pulled over by a police officer) that Arkansas is likely to fire current head coach John Pelphrey and Anderson is the target to replace him.
The Arkansas job was the subject of rumors last year around this time yet nothing came of it. With Anderson's connections there -- he spent nearly two decades as an assistant to Nolan Richardson -- I'd guess he's always going to be brought up as a replacement whenever there's trouble.
Anderson was asked about the rumors this week, according to Steve Walentik of the Columbia Tribune, and didn't answer directly the question of his interest in the Arkansas job.
"I'm here," he said. "We're talking about Kansas. We're getting ready for Kansas. That's what we're getting ready for. That's what I want to talk about. We've got a big game coming up, so that's ... My kids are excited. It should be a great atmosphere. We've got CBS, a national audience coming in, so again, it's an early game, so you guys get there early now. And it's going to be different from the standpoint of now you're talking about having pregames probably at 7-7:30 in the morning. But I think our guys are looking forward to it, looking forward to the opportunity. And that's what it is, an opportunity."
I've got a couple of reactions to this.
First, the Arkansas job is not yet open and I'm sure talking about a job that's not yet open severely violates a rule in the coaching fraternity. That's not what you do. He didn't side-step anything -- there's nothing he can answer. Arkansas' interest in him is notable, but this "non-answer" tells us nothing.
SB Nation's Rock M Nation felt the same way wondering about the timing of a question like that.
I have no idea whether he would take an Arkansas offer seriously at all (I do have some advice for him, however: be very careful here. Fair or not -- and I think it would actually be somewhat fair -- interviewing with another school for a third consecutive year will result in you losing a portion of the Mizzou fanbase. You should very much realize that in advance.), but asking him about it right now is completely ridiculous and fishing for a controversial "non-denial denial." Congrats to whoever asked him this question -- you got your quote and your headline.
My second thought is that at some point Anderson's going to have to learn to squash things like this early on from behind closed doors, or he's going to have to stop talking with schools every year. Check the quote above for the reasoning. Georgia approaching him is one thing, Oregon the next year is another, but three years and three schools have come after you, two have been very public and the third is starting out that way? There's a way to handle these things and there's a way not to handle these things. The way not to do it is dragging Mizzou along like they're just a stepping stone. That said, I don't know Anderson's feelings on this so I can't completely say what I think.
Maybe a Mizzou victory over Kansas on Saturday will be enough to end the speculation (unlikely).