The job opening at Missouri is an intriguing one. Frank Haith, for better or worse, is gone after surprisingly accepting the open position at Tulsa. Now, one of the top jobs in the SEC is up for grabs. With a solid recruiting base, a 10-year-old arena to play in and a dedicated fan base, athletic director Mike Alden should have no shortage of candidates for the job. Identifying the best candidate will be a whole different beast.
Here are what the Tigers need to find in their next head coach, as well as a list of early frontrunners to replace Haith.
State of the program
Whoever takes over is in for a rebuilding job. The team has won upward of 23 games every season since 2009, but there could be a rough road ahead, at least in the next couple years.
Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson have both declared for the NBA Draft. Earnest Ross, the only other player from last year's team to average more than six points per game, was a senior. About 80 percent of the scoring is gone, and that's assuming no others leave the team.
There are two players signed for the 2014 class, both of whom are considered four-star talents. It remains to be seen if Jakeenan Gant, a power forward, and Los Angeles guard Namon Wright stick with the new coach or if they ask to be released from their letters of intent.
The next Mizzou coach will have plenty of flexibility to bring in players he thinks will fit his system, and plenty of games will be up for grabs in the SEC, but winning on a national level may take time.
Stability, stability, stability
It's hard to believe this will be Missouri's fourth head coach in 15 years. Norm Stewart built the program up from nothing, but mostly unsuccessful tenures from Quin Snyder, Mike Anderson and Haith have made things muddy once again.
When considering candidates, athletic director Mike Alden should ask himself, "Can I see this guy here in seven years?" Snyder's personal life got the best of him, and neither Anderson nor Haith ever seemed to really keep both feet on the ground. Anderson bolted for Arkansas after five seasons, and Haith was looking for a way out after just three. The Tigers have not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2010, in Anderson's second-to-last season. Haith was 0-2 in the big dance, and the Tigers made the NIT this past season before his departure for Tulsa.
The Tigers can't afford to be in this situation once again in 2020. It is far too good of a job to have this much turnover. It may not be about necessarily hiring the most appealing candidate; finding a guy who isn't going to be on coaching-search hot boards every summer is important, too.
Meshing with Columbia
Columbia is one of the best college towns in the country, and the success of the athletic programs at Mizzou is at the forefront for just about everyone. They love their Tigers in mid-Missouri, and coaches are held to a higher standard than most.
Just look at football coach Gary Pinkel, now the winningest coach in school history: Eighteen months ago, he was on the hot seat for non-related football things. Sure, a rough debut season in the SEC wasn't fun, but a DUI arrest and an ugly divorce with his wife of nearly 40 years were not received well in a heavily conservative area. Many wanted him out.
At the end of the day, winning (and winning over a prolonged period of time) cures everything. Pinkel is back in ol' Mizzou's good graces after a terrific run last season -- but fitting into the midwestern lifestyle is an absolute must for the next head coach in Columbia.
The top candidates
It is still early in the process, but it seems quite a few high-profile names have been linked to Mizzou in the early going.
Rock M Nation has kept track of every time a major publication has named a coach as a potential replacement. The most common names: former UCLA coach Ben Howland, Wichita State's Gregg Marshall, Xavier's Chris Mack, Louisiana Tech's Mike White (who spurned Tennessee before the Volunteers offered their job to Donnie Tyndall) and Dayton's Archie Miller, among a bevy of others. Another interesting name to keep an eye on is Kim Anderson, the current Central Missouri coach and Tiger alumnus.