It was official as of Saturday night: According to Andy Katz, Missouri's Mike Anderson will not be the next coach of the Oregon Ducks. Anderson's flirtation with the Ducks lasted a few days, and the coach reportedly had a $3 million offer on the table from the deep-pocketed folks in Eugene, Ore., but it wasn't enough to lure Anderson away from his $1.55 million deal -- and his burgeoning success -- at Mizzou.
It was a heady play. Oregon has largely bumbled this coaching search, shooting for names -- Tom Izzo? Jamie Dixon? -- that were laughably out of its range. Anderson is a proven coach with a winning style. His hire would have salvaged Oregon's offseason failure. He was former athletic director and led recruiter Pat Kilkenny's last, best chance at achieving what appears to Oregon's main hiring goal: signing a big name.
It didn't work, and now Oregon has to go back to the drawing board. The list of Oregon rejections (Izzo, Dixon, Mark Few, Billy Donovan, Mark Turgeon, Tubby Smith, Brad Stevens, everyone else with a pulse) presents a pretty clear road map for where Oregon needs to look next -- at assistant coaches and mid-major guys.
It doesn't help that most of the coaching carousel has already stopped; few viable candidates remain. Oregon could look at assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who wanted the Colorado job but was foiled when the Buffaloes stayed in-state and hired Northern Colorado coach Tad Boyle, a decision which should be announced later today. Dunlap would be a nice low-risk, low-reward pick. Another potential option, according to Rumor Central, is former Suns coach Terry Porter, who has ties to the state in the form of his days a Portland Trail Blazers star.
Those two names aren't exactly what Oregon is looking for. The Ducks wanted to make a splash. At this point, though, it almost makes more sense for Oregon to circle the wagons (pardon the cliché, but "Oregon Trail" associations were simply too much for my brain to hold back), scour the country, and do something similar to what Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman did in hiring Jeff Bzdelik: Forget the news conference, forget the media and get the coach you think will do best. For all of the (very fair) criticisms surrounding Bzdelik's hire, you have to credit Wellman for doing what he thought was right, media reaction be damned. At this point, Oregon would do well to follow suit.