Missouri's Mike Anderson: $2 Million? That's Just Absurd

Brian HaenchenContributor IIMarch 23, 2011

Mike Anderson's agent Jimmy Sexton has ensured his client will become one of the highest paid coaches in college basketball.
Mike Anderson's agent Jimmy Sexton has ensured his client will become one of the highest paid coaches in college basketball.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

If this afternoon’s reports are true, then soon-to-be-former Missouri head coach Mike Anderson is about to become the seventh-highest paid coach in college basketball.

Personally, I thought MU’s offer of $2 million was a bit ridiculous. I would much rather see it let Anderson walk and use that money to sign an already established coach. (It’s not going to happen, but it would be awesome to see Butler’s Brad Stephens come in).

While I don’t like Mizzou giving Anderson a raise, I understand why they would. If he leaves for Arkansas, it could potentially be a couple of awful years for Tiger basketball fans.

The guys Anderson brought in (and this is one of my biggest problems with him) were recruited solely because they fit into his up-tempo style. They have shown no signs of being able to succeed in a half-court set. It’s painful to watch.

If I’m Mike Alden (Missouri’s AD), I realize that if I let Anderson walk, the program’s popularity, which has been increasing steadily under Anderson, goes down the tubes. At the very least, making an offer to Anderson valued around $2 million makes him look like the “bad guy.”

I have the same stance on the Arkansas offer. In fact, its reported seven-year, $2.2 million offer makes even more sense than Missouri’s. Anderson is a mastermind at rebuilding programs. He did it at UAB, he’s done it at Mizzou and there’s no reason to believe that he won’t be able to do it again at Arkansas.

Bottom line: If you’re Missouri, you want to keep Anderson just to avoid the inevitable rebuilding period if he leaves. If you’re Arkansas, you want to bring in a fan favorite to not only rebuild the program and put it back on the map, but to also bring back the fans.

The difference is that Missouri is not desperate, but Arkansas is. Mizzou has reached the point that it can draw a big name coach to take over its program. Arkansas, meanwhile, is in dire need of a coach who can turn its program around fast. Anderson and Marquette’s Buzz Williams are the two best coaches it could possibly land.

All that being said, any $2 million offer for Mike Anderson is absurd. In my opinion, he does not deserve it. If this scenario comes up two years ago following MU’s Elite Eight run, I’d be behind a $2 million offer 100 percent.

However, this entire season was just underwhelming and revealed some serious flaws in the “Fastest 40 Minutes.” Assuming these stories out of Arkansas are true, Anderson will be one of the most overpaid coaches in college basketball. To put things in perspective, I compared him to the other highly paid coaches from around the NCAA.

Before we start looking at the other highest-paid coaches, here is what Anderson’s resume looks like. In his nine seasons as a head coach, Anderson has a record of 200-98 with zero Final Four appearances.

At Mizzou, he is currently 111-57 with an Elite Eight appearance two years ago. He has a regular season title with UAB and a Big 12 tournament title with Mizzou. His best season record came in ’08-’09 when he went 31-7, 12-4 in conference (that was the same year MU won the Big 12 tournament and reached the Elite Eight).

Now that we know Anderson’s resume, let’s compare him to the other highest-paid coaches in the NCAA. I got my information on the coach’s salary from Forbes.com. For argument’s sake, assume that Anderson accepts an offer from Arkansas for $2.2 million.

At $2.2 million, Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson would be getting paid more than UCLA’s Ben Howland, West Virginia’s Bob Huggins, Texas’s Rick Barnes and the one who surprised me the most, North Carolina’s Roy Williams.

All of those coaches have at least one Final Four appearance, but the person I want to focus on most from this group is Williams.

In his 23 seasons as an NCAA head coach (15 years at Kansas, eight at North Carolina), Williams has compiled an overall record of 642-162. He has taken down two national titles and made seven Final Four appearances. Williams has received numerous awards, including two AP Coach of the Year awards and the Naismith College Coach of the Year award.

 What has Mike Anderson done in his career that warrants him getting paid as much as or more than Roy Williams? The answer: nothing.

If he signs this reported deal with Arkansas, Anderson will move into a tie with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski as the seventh-highest paid coach in college basketball. That’s right, Mike Anderson, who has made it into the third round of the NCAA tournament just once, would be getting paid as much as one of the most successful coaches in college basketball.

Of the coaches ahead on that list, all of them have at least one NCAA championship game appearance to go along with multiple Final Four appearances.

While Anderson has not been coaching for as long as some of these other coaches, that does not take away from the fact that, relatively speaking, he’s an unproven coach. Coaches' careers and teams' seasons are judged based on their performance in the NCAA tournament.

Yes, Anderson has turned MU into a perennial tournament team, but most of those have been either one-and-done or second-round exits. Only once has he led a team deep into the tournament, and that squad featured one of the best players in the nation: Demarre Carroll. Comparing his resume to that of the other highly-paid coaches around college basketball further proves my point.

In the end, Anderson and his agent Jimmy Sexton are the ultimate winners. I have a feeling that when all is said and done, it will become known that Sexton has been playing both sides all along in order to ensure Anderson gets as much money as he can.

As it is, these “sources” have basically guaranteed Anderson $2 million through rumors spread around by the media. Kudos to Sexton for playing both sides and ensuring his client a significant pay raise. 


Random Thoughts

-Based on the stories that have come out today, all of which are coming through the Arkansas camp, I have a feeling Anderson is going to be headed to Arkansas in the near future.

However, fans cannot overlook the fact that Anderson still has to receive permission from the University of Missouri to negotiate a new deal with Arkansas. I’m not sure why the school would bar him from negotiating with Arkansas at this point, but that option is still out there.

-I’m not going to be disappointed or disgusted in him if he takes the pay raise and leaves for Arkansas, but if he stays, I will gain even more respect for him as a person. Based on my interactions with Anderson in press conferences and interviews, I think he’s a genuinely good person. He seems to care about his players, and I like the way he runs his program.

-I wonder if things would be different had Tony Mitchell been allowed to enroll at Mizzou. Last year, Ricardo Ratliffe and Matt Pressey, two of his marquee recruits, signed with MU right before Anderson’s interview with Oregon about its head coaching vacancy.

Speaking of players, if Anderson leaves, I think there’s a very good chance Phil “Flip” Pressey will transfer to Arkansas. They are related after all.

-Finally, if Anderson leaves, we will be seeing Otto Porter in a Kansas jersey next season, which is unfortunate considering his size and athletic ability.

Poll: Who do you want to see as the next head coach at Missouri?

Click here to cast your vote! 


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