Connect with us

Latest News

Can Anderson sell another rebuilding year to Hogs’ fading fan base?

In year eight, Mike Anderson should not have been rebuilding. He should have been reloading. If he’s still rebuilding in year nine, you wonder how they can sell it to the fans.



Just over a year ago Mike Anderson got a contract extension and a raise to keep coaching Arkansas basketball through March 2022 … which means, of course, now a lot of people want to fire him.

Now whether that group of people includes athletics director Hunter Yurachek isn’t exactly clear. From all the noise going around the last couple of weeks there are a lot of folks that think he is.

Who knows. Hunter isn’t saying anything, which could mean there are discussions going on and nobody’s made a decision. Or he doesn’t feel the need to publicly back Anderson because nothing’s in jeopardy.

Regardless of what happens, the Razorbacks are in the college basketball version of the Silly Season when rumors run rampant and actual facts are few and far between.

In a league where there are four coaches already fired (Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Alabama) or just waiting on the axe to fall (LSU), Anderson’s job status is a topic of conversation. If this were football you wouldn’t hear anything else, but in basketball there’s a big tournament going on that draws most of the oxygen out of the discussions.

It is interesting to note that three of those vacant (or expected to be soon) jobs are in the SEC West, which doesn’t actually matter in basketball standings, but does make a difference in the impact to athletic departments in a division that is the toughest in the biggest sport at colleges.

While the UA isn’t directly on the hook for Bret Bielema’s continuing salary while he’s hanging around New England at an NFL minimum-wage coaching position, it does need to be brought into the conversation here.

Does the Razorback Foundation want to be on the hook for paying coaches in the two highest-profile sports to NOT coach the Hogs anymore?

The immediate — and obvious — answer to that is not just no, but hell no.

Forget the economics. That’s a public relations position that doesn’t look good and the only way it can be spun is to dump it all off on former athletics director Jeff Long. While it was his lack of common logic that led to Bielema’s hiring, Anderson is a different story.

Hardly anyone in the state of Arkansas was against bringing him back in 2011. Long didn’t have a lot of choice, based on what I’ve been told for eight years now, although that doesn’t matter to me … I thought it was the best thing he’d done and should have been done in 2002.

But it hasn’t worked out the way many fans wanted … or expected.

Say what you want, but he’s averaged over 21 wins a season over eight years. In case you’re wondering, that puts Arkansas in the upper echelon in the SEC in terms of wins.

It’s not enough for an ever-increasing number of fans.

Anderson’s problem has been just three NCAA Tournament appearances over those eight seasons and a 2-3 record. He hasn’t made it to the second weekend of the tournament yet.


In other words, he hasn’t accomplished much more than anybody else since 1996.

Fans either remember or have read about how things were hopping for Arkansas basketball from 1977-96. It was, at times, one of the top programs in the country.

Eddie Sutton laid the foundation for what Nolan Richardson accomplished. That’s not downgrading either one, by the way. It’s history and the facts are there.

Before Sutton came to town, the Razorbacks playing basketball was a minor diversion between the football bowl game and the start of spring practice and two Red-White football games.

Richardson moved spring football below the middle of the sports page for a few years.

The only time it’s moved back up has usually involved coaching drama.

Which is where we are now.

After losing to Indiana on Saturday in a tournament no cared much about, I said Anderson had a problem. Playing in the NIT isn’t a barometer for job security.

He may or may not remain the coach of the Razorbacks. That’s a decision others will make over the coming days.

And if Anderson gets another year, just getting to the NCAA can’t be the goal.

The Hogs have to be playing in the second week of the tournament or in the minds of many fans and donors there’s zero progress in nearly a decade.

Unless he gets a couple of one-and-done type players, getting a Sweet 16 spot next year appears pretty far-fetched. Bless their hearts, these guys aren’t good enough to get there.

Just making it to the NCAA should not be enough for Anderson IF he gets that extra year. Winning one game shouldn’t be enough. If the players aren’t good enough that comes back to the head coach because recruiting is the No. 1 priority for any coach at the SEC level.

In year eight, Anderson should not have been rebuilding. He should have been reloading.

If he’s still rebuilding in year nine, you wonder how they can sell it to the fans.