On March 4, Missouri coach Mike Anderson wanted to clear up any speculation.
He was not abandoning the Tigers for Arkansas and he even called a Columbia Daily Tribune reporter, who had doubts about whether Anderson was telling the truth, to make sure his message was heard.
"I plan on being at Missouri for a long time, retire here," Anderson said.
Apparently, 19 days is long enough and he is retiring to Arkansas where he will be the basketball coach in his spare time.
Several outlets from Missouri to Arkansas are reporting that Anderson has agreed to a seven-year, $2.2 million retirement package with the Razorbacks and he'll be introduced as John Pelphrey's replacement Thursday morning. Missouri will hold a press conference Wednesday night.
This isn't a huge surprise. Even before Pelphrey was fired, rumors started circulating about Arkansas targeting Anderson to be its next coach. When Pelphrey was finally let go on March 13, the rumors were even more rampant even though Anderson vehemently denied the speculation.
"I thought I'd dealt with that already," Anderson told media after being asked following Missouri's second-round exit from the NCAA tournament. "I'm excited about what's taking place at Missouri and I plan on being at Missouri. That's the bottom line. We've done some great things and we'll continue to do some great things. I've got a young basketball team. So that's something we've already dealt with."
Now, no one is going to fault Anderson for going back to the place where he earned his assistant coaching stripes. He spent 17 years at Arkansas under coach Nolan Richardson with the hopes of one day returning there as the head man.
What people can take issue with is the posturing. Many coaches who are being courted by other programs will give you the company line about being happy where they are and the future of their current program. But not many will go out of their way to call a reporter to put out a coaching rumor. Not many will tell media that he plans to retire as the coach of his particular school. Not many go through all that trouble.
Anderson made Missouri fans take him at his word and his word ended up being worthless.
The one saving grace for Missouri in all of this is that Anderson left the program in much better shape than he found it. Mizzou loses just one senior and has yet to fill that recruiting spot. It had a team that was ranked most of the season and all of those starters are back. And because of Mike Anderson's system, Missouri player have a great work ethic.
It will be an attractive school for several coaches. Though Brad Steven, Chris Mooney and Shaka Smart have emerged from the NCAA tournament as the hot names, Missouri would probably be better off going with an older, more established coach. St. John's assistant Mike Dunlap should be considered. Steve Alford is another name that might generate some buzz. While these aren't the flashy names, they might be the better choices.
As for Anderson, he walks into a bad situation with a ton of upside. The Razorbacks have a top-five recruiting class coming in next year that includes guard Ky Madden (Lepanto, Ark.), the No. 6 prospect in the country according to Rivals.com, and forward Hunter Mickelson (Jonesboro, Ark.), the No. 19 prospect.
Anderson has the ability to turn Arkansas around as quickly as he turned around Mizzou, but after he does, fans might start wondering if he'll move on to something better.