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Arkansas’ Search Rolls On; Anderson Can Now Talk

A few coaches are now available to chat with Arkansas AD Jeff Long following their dismissals from the NCAA Tournament yesterday.

At the top of the list — Missouri’s Mike Anderson.  The Tigers’ coach is the dream candidate for many a Hog fan.  The former Nolan Richardson assistant has said that he wants to retire at Mizzou and he’s turned down big offers from Georgia and Oregon in recent years.  But if Arkansas is going to chase him and bag him, that process can now begin following the Tigers’ 78-63 loss to Cincinnati last night.  (Sidenote, my partner at MrSEC is a Mizzou grad and I’m sure he found last night’s game to be “40 minutes of Hell” for all the wrong reasons.)

According to Richardson, his former aide hasn’t said anything to him about the UA job.  He also told ArkansasNews.com that Anderson wasn’t happy when he didn’t get a shot at the Hogs’ top job when Richardson was fired in 2002.  “When Mike left he was pretty upset and I don’t blame him.”  Is he over it?  Will he leave Columbia?  We’ll know soon enough.


Also available to talk is Louisville’s Rick Pitino.  We’ve had more than one Razorback fan/alum/booster tells us that Pitino is the “surprise” candidate who’ll eventually land the job.  And after his Cardinals’ 62-61 loss to cross-state foe Morehead State yesterday, Pitino is free to chat.

But after last night’s game, Pitino said, “This is as tough a loss as I’ve had in coaching, and I’ve been coaching a long time, after tonight maybe too long.”  That, of course, could just be the sound of a shocked, disappointed man.  But Pitino has been through a lot in the last year — on and off the court.

“My window is closing in coaching,” Pitino also said.  “I said I could leave this year and be a happy man. … You always want to coach a team like this in your last years that you coach the game.”  He then clarified his comments to point out that he said last years, plural.  But would he want to start all over again somewhere else at age 58?

Bottom line: Pitino won’t go to work for a school that just fired his former player John Pelphrey.  We won’t buy that one until Pitino’s wearing a plastic hog on his head (with his white suit) and actually calling the Hogs.


Another former Kentucky coach — Billy Gillispie — is reportedly on the verge of signing a deal with Texas Tech.  We never believed for a second that Arkansas would move in Billy Clyde’s direction, but his name did appear on a few lists of candidates.  Don’t worry, Hog fans.  Looks like he’ll be a Red Raider instead.


One more ex-Wildcat coach to throw out there — Tubby Smith.  Smith is working on an extension with Minnesota.  He said he hasn’t been contacted by Arkansas (but what about that rumored face-to-face meeting with UA reps?) and he doesn’t like all the rumors.  But The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that he also said he’d listen if the Hogs did call him.  Way to quiet the rumors, Tubby.

In reality, Smith might be using Arkansas as leverage to get a new practice facility built for the Gophers.


Steve Lavin’s name has also popped up in connection with the Arkansas job, but we don’t see that one happening, either.  St. John’s rescued Lavin from the TV business and gave him a second-chance after his dismissal from UCLA back in 2003.  It would be surprising for him to leave the Johnnies after just one season.

Still, he is available to talk after last night’s 86-71 loss to Gonzaga.


As for guys still alive in the NCAAs, Frank Martin’s Kansas State club held on to knock off Utah State last night and Mick Cronin’s Cincinnati team was responsible for Missouri’s exit.  Might Cronin have helped his case by topping Anderson head-to-head?


Two other potential Razorback candidates will hit the floor with their teams tonight:

Buzz Williams and Marquette will face Xavier at 7:27pm ET.

Mark Turgeon and Texas A&M will face Florida State at 4:10pm ET.


One last note: Oklahoma’s State’s Travis Ford isn’t popping up on any lists, but he and Long have a history.  Long hired him at Eastern Kentucky.  Earlier this month, Ford said Long is “one of my best friends.”  Just sayin’.

(UPDATE — A kind reader reminded us that Ford and Pelphrey were roomates at UK, something that this writer had forgotten.  So that’s why he’s not on any lists!  In the words of Gilda Radner: “Nevermind.”)

 


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