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The Battle For Mike Anderson Rages On

It’s the battle for Mike Anderson.   But it’s not being waged between Arkansas and Missouri as much as it’s being waged between two factions of the Razorback Nation.

It’s no secret that Anderson’s connections to ex-Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson serve as his greatest plus… and his greatest minus among Hog fans.  Those who loved the up-tempo, “40 minutes of Hell,” big winning ways of Richardson are positively giddy over reports that the Hogs might/could/will land his old assistant, Anderson.  But those who despised Richardson and have not forgiven him for his noisy, messy departure from Fayetteville want no part of any return to power by the toppled king or his prince.

If you’re AD Jeff Long, you’d better know which group of boosters have the most power in this debate and then you’d better side with them.  If that means the anti-Anderson faction has more cash and more pull, best to tick off the common Hog fan and chase someone like Marquette’s Buzz Williams (who’s now helped his own cause by reaching the Sweet Sixteen).  While Joe-Average-Hog-Hat might get mad, it’s the powerbrokers who’ll keep Long employed.

Richardson and Arkansas went through a very nasty divorce.  It took nearly a decade for any kind of thaw to even begin.  So even if Long and the Hogs are pursuing and do land Anderson, there could still be some blowback from the anti-Richardson minority.  If it’s indeed the minority.

Lost in all the hoopla over Anderson’s ties to Richardson is the coach’s actual record at Mizzou.  He rebuilt the Tigers following the Quin Snyder apocalypse, but the last two years have been a tad disappointing in Columbia.  Following the school’s 31-7 2008-09 season and its run to the Elite Eight that year, the Tigers have dropped to 23-11 in each of the last two years, finishing fifth in the Big 12 both times.  Last year the Tigers lost in the second round of the NCAA tourney and this year they fell in the opening stanza.  Anderson has had a winning conference record in two of his five years in Columbia.

Would back-to-back 23-11, fifth-place finishes be accepted in Fayetteville?  For a while. 

But anyone looking for a repeat of Arkansas’ 1988-1995 run — 200 wins, just 43 losses, seven first-place finishes, three Final Fours and a national title — might be disappointed with what Anderson can actually provide.  Or what anyone else can provide for that matter.

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