A Comprehensive List of Potential Candidates for the Missouri Head Coaching Job
Just because Matt Painter turned down an offer from Missouri, that does not mean Mike Alden should not go after another big name coach. I have compiled a list of the other coaches being mentioned as potential candidates to replace Mike Anderson. With each coach is a rundown of their resume as a head coach, as well as a brief breakdown of their coaching history and what they bring to the table.
In waiting for Painter, Missouri did lose out on a couple of big name candidates: Buzz Williams and Cuonzo Martin.
Williams, who signed a large extension with Marquette shortly after Painter announced he would remain with Purdue, may not have even been on Missouri's list, but he would have excited the fans and would have been a solid hire.
In an unprecedented move, Cuonzo Martin was hired by Tennessee to replace Bruce Pearl. The East Saint Louis native was actually favored by some over Painter. Personally, I think Alden should have at least approached Martin. He was successful at MO State and the upside he would have brought to Missouri in terms of recruiting is unmatched by most of the other candidates. I believe he would have immediately started to seal the borders in Missouri and tapped into the growing pool of talent in Saint Louis.
With these two potential candidates off the table, here are the other candidates for the Missouri head coaching job.
Years as Head Coach: 4 years (All with Butler)
Career Record (Record with Current Team): 116-24
2010-2011 Record: 27-9 (T-1 Horizon League; Final Four*)
Everyone knows about what Stevens has accomplished in his four years at Butler, so I will just jump to the Bottom Line…
Bottom Line: While the chance of Stevens leaving Butler after this season is almost zero, there’s no harm in making him tell you no. Mike Alden is obligated to throw money at Stevens and make him reaffirm his commitment to Butler. Personally, I hope he stays at Butler and continues to build that program. He has something special going there.
Shaka Smart-Virginia Commonwealth
Years as Head Coach: 2 years (All with VCU)
Career Record (Record with Current Team): 55-20
2010-2011 Record: 28-11 (4th-Colonial Athletic Association; Final Four*)
Shaka Smart is the hottest commodity out there. His team’s up-tempo, 3-point happy style has them on a historic tournament run. Smart’s latest act was an upset win over the top seeded Kansas Jayhawks to reach the Final Four.
Smart went 27-9 last season—good for 5th place in the CAA and a bid to the College Basketball Invitational. VCU ultimately won the tournament with a 2-game sweep of the Saint Louis University Billikens.
His recent success with VCU has many speculating that Smart is the top candidate for both the Missouri job and the North Carolina State position. NC State’s coach, Sidney Lowe, left the program after this season.
Smart was an assistant at Clemson and Florida (among other schools) before taking the head-coaching job at VCU last season. His up-tempo style that seems to rely heavily on the 3-point shot is reminiscent of Mike Anderson’s “Fastest 40 Minutes.”
Mike Alden is almost obligated to talk to Smart. The operative word there being: talk. Just because you meet with a coach does not mean you have to make him a contract offer. Alden must make sure Smart would even fit in to what he is trying to accomplish as athletic director at Mizzou. If Smart comes in and is extremely successful, he could bolt from Columbia just as fast as Mike Anderson.
Bottom Line: VCU undoubtedly sees the writing on the wall and will be offering Smart a hefty contract extension after the Rams’ tournament run concludes. That being said, he would be a solid hire for Mizzou in terms of recruiting. Smart’s success this year would be a big incentive for prospective recruits to sign with Missouri.
Despite all that, I am still not a fan of the up-tempo offense. I do not believe it is built for long-term success because it tends to alienate the big centers that can dominate the boards. Furthermore, outside of the month of March 2011, Smart’s resume at VCU is relatively underwhelming. While his records over the past two years are impressive, neither was good enough to win the Colonial Athletic Association title. I’m not sure how he would fair in what is an ever-strengthening Big 12.
Ben Jacobson-Northern Iowa
Years as Head Coach: 5 years (All with Northern Iowa)
Career Record: 109-56
2010-2011 Record: 20-14 (T-4 MVC; CIT quarterfinals)
Ben Jacobson’s biggest accomplishment as a head coach came during last season’s NCAA tournament when the Panthers knocked off the top seeded Kansas Jayhawks en route to a Sweet 16 appearance.
In his five seasons as head coach at Northern Iowa, Jacobson has won at least 18 games and finished in the top five of the Missouri Valley Conference each season. The 40-year-old coach has taken home two MVC Coach of the Year Awards and two MVC regular season and tournament titles.
While his resume is solid, Jacobson’s still a relatively inexperienced coach. If I’m Mike Alden, I take a flyer on Jacobson, but do not seriously pursue him unless I get shot down by some of the more experienced candidates.
Another note on Jacobson, he signed a 10-year extension last season following his team’s NCAA tournament run. Northern Iowa’s athletic department raised $1.95 million to fund that contract, meaning Alden could find himself in a bidding war if he goes after Jacobson.
Bottom Line: Jacobson is a solid coach but with that recent 10-year extension, Alden would be overpaying for a guy that has only been a head coach for five years and will not excite the fan base like some of the other candidates.
Years as Head Coach: 2 years (All with Xavier)
Career Record (Record with Current Team): 50-17
2010-2011 Record: 24-8 (1st-A10; NCAA First Round)
Chris Mack’s history with Xavier is similar to Matt Painter’s with Purdue, so the chances of him leaving are slim to none. That being said, the work he has done in his two years as head coach of the Musketeers is impressive.
Mack took over as head coach at Xavier last season after two separate stints as an assistant and promptly lead the Musketeers on a run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. He was the only rookie coach in the 2010 Tournament and tied a school record with 26 wins in his first year.
It should be noted that Mack turned down an offer from Tennessee to replace Bruce Pearl. That should not deter Mike Alden from at least approaching him about the job, but fans should not get their hopes up.
Bottom Line: Obviously, two years is a small sample size for a head coach. That being said, Mack’s two years at the helm of Xavier have been impressive. Back-to-back 20+ win seasons combined with two NCAA tournament appearances in as many years should turn some heads. Unfortunately, there is virtually no chance he leaves his alma mater for Mizzou.
Years as Head Coach: 18 years (6-Illinois State, 12-Vanderbilt)
Career Record (Record with Current Team): 358-210 (236-147)
2010-2011 Record: 23-11 (T-3 East SEC; NCAA First Round)
Kevin Stallings has had a solid tenure at Vanderbilt. He has compiled six 20-win seasons and led the Commodores to two Sweet 16 appearances. Stallings went one-and-done in his four other tournament appearances.
Last season, Vandy went 24-9, good for second in the East division of the SEC and a 4-seed in the NCAA tournament. The Commodores were ousted in the first round, however, getting upset by the Murray State Racers. Stallings had four consecutive 20-win seasons as coach at Illinois State including a 25-win performance in the 1997-98 season.
Like Painter, Stallings is a product of former Purdue head coach Gene Keady. Stallings’ junior and senior seasons were the first two years of Keady’s career with the Boilermakers.
Bottom Line: Stallings has been unable to win an SEC title in his 11 seasons at Vanderbilt, and the SEC is by no means a college basketball powerhouse. It is hard to see him being the one to bring another Big 12 title to Missouri. He also has not made it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament in his past three appearances.
With 11 seasons and counting at Vanderbilt, it is also hard to see Stallings leaving that program anytime soon.
Years as Head Coach: 6 years (All with Tulsa)
Career Record (Record with Current Team): 123-78
2010-2011 Record: 19-13 (T-2 Conference USA)
Despite not having any NCAA tournament appearances under his belt, Doug Wojcik has been relatively successful at Tulsa. After leading the Golden Hurricanes to their first double-digit win season in two years, he lead Tulsa to four straight 20+ win seasons, including back-to-back 25-win seasons from 2007-2009.
Wojcik graduated from the Naval academy and was an assistant coach at Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Michigan State before taking the head coaching job at Tulsa.
Bottom Line: Wojcik may not excite many fans, but he is worth a look. He has had success at Tulsa and has coached under Tom Izzo at Michigan State. As is the case with some of the other candidates that I have mentioned, Wojcik does not have any NCAA tournament experience and is arguably still an unproven coach.
Years as Head Coach: 5 years (3-VCU, 2-Alabama)
Career Record (Record with Current Team): 118-52 (42-27)
2010-2011 Record: 25-12 (1st SEC West; NIT Runner-up)
All but one of Anthony Grant’s teams have won 24+ games. His record is impressive. The Tide narrowly missed the NCAA tournament this season, but went on to finish second in the NIT.
Bottom Line: Grant has only been at Alabama for two seasons. His recruits are finally starting to fill the roster, so there is no reason for him to leave. Mike Alden should still give him a look, but there’s virtually no chance he bolts from Alabama after just two seasons there.
Years as Head Coach: 8 years (3-Murray State, 5-Cincinnati)
Career Record (Record with Current Team): 156-100 (87-76)
2010-2011 Record: 26-9 (6th Big East; NCAA second round)
2010-2011 was the best season in Mick Cronin’s career. The Bearcats finished 26-9—good for sixth in the Big East and reached the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
At Murray State, Cronin had two 20-win seasons and two NCAA tournament appearances.
Bottom Line: Cronin has consistently improved during his tenure at Cincinnati. The win total has continuously climbed, and to do that in the Big East speaks volumes about his potential. While he may not be the most popular hire, Cronin could prove to be the smartest hire over the long run.
Years as Head Coach: 7 years (1-Air Force; 6-Richmond)
Career Record (Record with Current Team): 130-99 (112-87)
2010-2011 Record: 29-8 (3rd A10, NCAA Sweet Sixteen)
Richmond has consistently improved under Mooney over the past four years. This season, the Spiders went 29-8 and reached the Sweet 16 before getting knocked out by the Kansas Jayhawks.
Bottom Line: Mooney signed a new contract extension with Richmond through the 2020-2021 season after his team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament. His work at Richmond should earn him at least a conversation with Mike Alden, if not an offer. Obviously, there’s little chance he leaves Richmond after signing a contract extension, but it’s worth a shot.
Steve Alford-New Mexico
Years as Head Coach: 20 years (4-Manchester [D-III], 4-Southwest Missouri State, 8-Iowa, 4-New Mexico)
Career Record (Record with Current Team): 406-222 (98-39)
2010-2011 Record: 22-13 (5th Mountain West; NIT 2nd Round)
Steve Alford played at Indiana University before heading into the NBA where he played for the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors.
Alford’s best season at New Mexico came last year when he went 30-6, finished in first place in the Mountain West for the second year in a row and made it to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
Missouri did look at Alford in 2006 while he was at Iowa.
Bottom Line: Alford recently signed a 10-year extension with New Mexico, but if Mike Alden believes he is the right fit for Missouri, might as well offer him a significant pay raise. It should be noted that his tenure at Iowa ended on a sour note with multiple players facing legal problems and a less than solid relationship with the administration. Alden stressed at his press conference that they are looking for a coach who will run a tight ship both on and off the court. I’m not sure that Alford brings that aspect.
Russell Springmann-Texas Assistant Coach
If Mike Alden decides to go with an assistant coach, Russell Springmann should be the one he targets. Springmann was key in bringing Kevin Durant to Texas and will be a head coach in the NCAA within the next few seasons. Obviously, Missouri has the money to sign someone with previous head coaching experience, but Springmann looks to be worth the risk.
Texas has made five Sweet 16 appearances and posted a record of 226-84 over his first nine years as a full-time assistant at Texas.
Bottom Line: He should be at the very bottom of Mike Alden’s list, but if for whatever reason Missouri is unable to either land or find a suitable candidate with previous head coaching experience, they might as well give Springmann a call.