After eight seasons, Mike Anderson was let go as the Arkansas head basketball coach. Anderson went to three NCAA Tournaments in his tenure, but didn’t live up to expectations. He didn’t get out of the first weekend in his tenure, and was jettisoned by Athletic Director Hunter Yuracheck. It’s a little surprising, but hardly shocking.
Arkansas won a national title in 1994 and went to the title game the next season. The Razorbacks program has history – also going to the Final Four in 1941, ’45, ’78 and 1990. Eddie Sutton went to the NCAA tourney his final nine seasons in Fayetteville and Nolan Richardson took it to another level. From 1977 to 2001, Arkansas went to the NCAA tourney 22 times. Stan Heath went twice in five seasons and after four mediocre seasons from John Pelphrey, Mike Anderson was brought in to get it back.
However, eight years and three NCAA tourney appearances later – and no Sweet 16s – he was let go. This is a middle-to-top-tier SEC job with plenty of resources for basketball. They paid Anderson $2.5 million and can easily pay in excess of $3 million for the next coach. How many “basketball jobs” are there in the SEC? Not many, but Arkansas is one of the few.
Hunter Yurachek – Yurachek has been the AD at Arkansas since December of 2017. He came from Houston, where he was the COO for about a year and then the AD from 2015 until he left for Fayetteville. Yuracheck also was the athletic director at Coastal Carolina from 2010 to ’14.
Men’s Basketball Hires: None
LEADER IN THE CLUBHOUSE
Kelvin Sampson, Houston – Let’s start with the fact that Yuracheck was a part of the hiring process when Sampson was hired at Houston. Arkansas is also in the SEC compared to the AAC, and can throw more money and resources his way. But it could well come down to family and whether Houston (or someone else) is willing to make Kellen Sampson the coach-in-waiting.
TAKE A SWING
Chris Beard, Texas Tech – Much like Alabama, I don’t see Beard ultimately taking it, but it’s worth a shot for Yuracheck and the Razorbacks. The difference between Arkansas and Alabama is that Arkansas considered more of a basketball school, so that might give the Razorbacks a shot. But again – it’s a longshot.
Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech – Williams appears to be headed to Texas A&M, but Arkansas is considered a better job in many ways than the one in College Station. It might depend on the financial package where Williams lands.
Frank Martin, South Carolina – I understand it’s within the league, but there’s a major difference: Arkansas is a basketball school; South Carolina is not. Martin had plenty of success at Kansas State and took South Carolina to the Final Four just a couple years ago.
Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State – Forbes has experience in the league as an assistant at Tennessee, and has done a terrific job in his tenure at ETSU. It would have to fall for it to get to him, but he’d be a good hire.
Mick Cronin, Cincinnati – This is a wild-card in a sense, but the question might come down to money – if Arkansas were to make a run at Cronin. He’s been terrific in rebuilding the Bearcats program, but it would be a strange fit down south.
Nate Oats, Buffalo – He doesn’t fit geographically, but Oats has gone to the NCAA tourney in three of his four seasons since being elevated from his assistant spot after Bobby Hurley left for Arizona State.
John Brannen, Northern Kentucky – He’s won a couple of regular-season titles at Northern Kentucky and also gone to a pair of NCAA Tournaments. Brannen also has SEC experience as an assistant at Alabama.
Matt McMahon, Murray State – He has taken the Racers to the NCAA Tournament each of the past two seasons and also recruited a kid named Ja Morant. It’s just a matter of time before McMahon gets a power conference gig.
Chris Jans, New Mexico State – He was an assistant for Gregg Marshall at Wichita and won in his lone season at Bowling Green before being fired for an off-court incident. Jans has won the WAC the last two years – his only two – at New Mexico State.
Kelvin Sampson, Houston – It just makes sense with the tie to the athletic director, and also with what he’s done the last couple years at Houston. Sampson can coach; there’s no debating that.
WHO I THINK THEY WILL WIND UP HIRING
Kelvin Sampson, Houston – There are some schools and ADs that might be hesitant to hire Sampson due to his past. Arkansas won’t be one of them – especially since Yuracheck was integral in his hire at Houston.