By Travis McMullen Contributing Columnist
April 29, 2014
Kim Anderson and his alma mater, The University of Missouri, are about a month removed from wrapping up very different seasons.
The Missouri Basketball Tigers turned in a mediocre season of SEC basketball. They only recorded one win against a ranked opponent (No. 18 UCLA) and just barely missed out on the NCAA tournament. A deflated team with fresh thoughts of being left out lost in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, who then ran right into the No. 1 seed Golden Gophers. Frank Haith, running low on Mike Anderson’s recruits and accumulated goodwill, got himself to Tulsa while the getting was good.
Anderson reached the peak of his coaching career at the University of Central Missouri and after 12 seasons of program reinvigoration and good progress he led the Mules to a Division II national championship, and personally being recognized as Division II coach of the year. The last few weeks have worked out perfectly for Anderson — his star just happened to be rising while Ol’ Mizzou was searching for a new head coach.
The timing was perfect and the member of the Smith-Cotton, University of Missouri and Missouri Sports Halls of Fame finally got the job that he has wanted for a great long while now. Anderson was passed over for the job at least three times, and nobody would have faulted him if he had chosen to give them a taste of their own medicine and refuse them in their time of need. He’s serious enough about the job to take it when they’re ready to give it to him, and to keep working until that happens. All you have to do to be an alumnus coach at Missouri is rebuild a program and win a national championship, I guess.
I have no doubt that he had a great time in Warrensburg and might have continued to do his part in making the Mules one of the finest basketball programs in Division II if Missouri hadn’t come calling.
Anderson’s ascension to a leadership position in the Missouri basketball program is the perfect manifestation of the complete tiger arc. A good Smith-Cotton Tiger (football or basketball or any sport, really) regularly aspires to be a good Missouri Tiger. High schools throughout the country honor their state colleges by adopting their mascot and they essentially create a miniature pipeline based just on name solidarity.
It’s like joining a streak of tigers and eventually working your way up to being their tiger king.
The results from the Mizzou faithful have been mixed — sure, Anderson isn’t directly responsible for all of UCM’s quality recruiting work, but a platform like Mizzou can help him with that. Since this is his first Division I head coaching job Mizzou is saving a little money, and hopefully they put those savings towards surrounding Anderson with good people.
Yes, there are many people throughout the Show-Me State who are giving him no chance at all. But there are two cities that know he’s going to give it his all and do his school and his community proud. The people of Warrensburg are probably sad to see him go, but they put their faith in him and were rewarded for it — Warrensburg knows. The people of Sedalia are driven instinctively to think that the other fine natives of the Queen City of the Prairies can do whatever you need them to do — Sedalia knows.
The ‘Ville and the ‘Burg have some conflicts on the court and the gridiron but they come together as Tigers and as communities that probably like to think of Kim Anderson as their own. But he’s a Sedalian, and we just might have to put him in the Smith-Cotton Athletic Hall of Fame a second time if his new coaching job goes as well as his last one did.
Though he won’t get a dozen seasons to do it in Columbia, fans of Mizzou basketball have high expectations when you consider the post-Mike Anderson seasons. Kim Anderson is the third Mizzou basketball coach to have that last name and Kim is just one letter away from being Mike backwards. Because of that fact maybe Mizzou Althetic Director Mike Alden assumed that he was hiring Mike’s alter ego. And that this thinly veiled ruse would allow Anderson to split his time between SEC schools. The Battle for the Ozarks would surely result in awkward, Three’s Company style coaching hijinks.
Your city is behind you as you embark on your journey as the leader of Missouri basketball, and don’t forget that your Sedalia has a college with a good basketball program, stocked with skilled ballers that would do whatever they need to do to get to the next level of college competition.
I think he can do it. Of course, I would think that.