Faith in Kim

Denny Simmons/AP

They pay me money to give my opinion.

It's a great gig.

The vast majority of the time, it's about sports. But it's also about other things.

The sudden and shocking passing of a good friend, Pat Forbis, who was only 58 when he died in February.

Columns about the passing of my mom and going through her house, and the memories those stirred.

Halloween. Global warming. The grand opening of Chick-fil-A in Jefferson City and the stupid people who camped out overnight --- in minus-20 wind chills --- to win a chicken sandwich.

But this is about sports. It was announced at 3 p.m. Monday that Kim Anderson would be the next coach of the Missouri Tigers basketball team.

I don't like this move.

I love it.

Here are three important things to know about this hire:

1. Anderson is a Sedalia native and a Tiger through and through. After Quin Snyder, Mike Anderson and Frank Haith --- that would be two yucks and another good Anderson (I always liked Mike) --- this will energize the fan base. Thanks, we needed that. Faith in Haith? Could he even find Missouri on a map?

2. Anderson is a winner. In 12 seasons as head coach of the University of Central Missouri, he compiled an eye-popping record of 274-94, winning or sharing six MIAA titles, advancing to seven NCAA Division II Tournaments, three Final Fours and winning the national championship just a few weeks ago.

3. Athletic Director Mike Alden swallowed his pride. One of Alden's first impactful moves at Missouri was getting rid of Norm Stewart in favor of Snyder. Alden's been mostly distanced from Stewart and his associates ever since --- until now.

"We are pleased and excited to have Kim Anderson leading our program," Alden said. "He's a man of great character, integrity and respect. He has demonstrated the ability to mentor young men on and off the court, academically and socially.

"He's a proven winner on all levels and he's built tremendous relationships around the country in the basketball community, which assists greatly with recruiting and other important aspects for a program.

"Lastly, the fact he's a Missouri Tiger at heart is important, he is committed to Mizzou and has a passion to build a program of which all Tiger fans will be proud."


Faith in Kim. It doesn't rhyme, but it's what MU fans will embrace.

Anderson will be officially introduced at a press conference Tuesday morning.

"I'm honored and humbled to have the opportunity to return to Mizzou and lead a program that our family is so vested in," he said. "When we took over in Warrensburg 12 years ago, we faced an uphill battle. We had support, we had a winning history and great campus leadership, but the program had lost its identity.

"I see that same opportunity here at Missouri .... and I know we have a passionate fan base. We have a lot of work ahead of us and that work starts today."

If you're reading this, you're likely familiar with Kim Anderson. But here's a refresher course.

* He graduated from Missouri with degree in education in 1979 (Bachelor's) and 1981 (Masters). He was the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1977, averaging 18.3 points and 7.9 rebounds in his senior season. He finished his college career with 1,289 points, now ranked 24th in school history.

* Anderson spent 11 seasons on the MU coaching staff over two stints, 1982-85 and 1991-99, and served six years as an assistant at Baylor, 1985-91.

* In an exhibition game last November, Anderson and his Mules led Missouri 45-43 at the half at Mizzou Arena. In the end, the Tigers beat the Mules by 13 --- but only because the free throw disparity was 45-13 in favor of MU, which produced a 27-point disparity.

These exhibition games are basically fixed, if you didn't know, even though there's no point spread. It's like the Harlem Globetrotters playing the Washington Generals.

No confetti required.

Anderson will inherit a program that's a sinking ship, thanks to Frank Haith, who's the one who put the hole in the boat.

The Tigers have lost their third-best player to graduation, Earnest Ross, and their two best players --- Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson --- who are jumping to the NBA after their junior seasons.

Recently, Zach Price --- a transfer from Louisville --- was arrested twice in the same day on suspicion of assault stemming from two separate incidents and was dismissed from the team.

It doesn't matter who the coach is next year, Haith, Norm Stewart, John Wooden, Red Auerbach or Kim Anderson, but next season looks to be bad, really bad.

Even in the really, really bad SEC.

"As a Missourian," Anderson said, "I embrace this challenge and look forward to bringing championship basketball back to Norm Stewart Court and Mizzou Arena."

Faith in Kim. And patience.

It's what MU fans will, and should, embrace.