Mike Anderson is returning to Arkansas to become the Razorbacks’ basketball coach.The school confirmed the move Wednesday night.
Anderson leaves Missouri after five seasons to return to the school where he was an assistant to Nolan Richardson for 17 seasons. He replaces John Pelphrey, who was fired on March 13.
“Under Mike’s leadership, I am confident the Razorbacks will be successful in the future on and off the court,” Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement. “The decision to hire Mike Anderson as head coach is based on my firm belief that he is the right person to lead the Razorback program today and in the years to come.”
Anderson’s departure is certain to anger Missouri fans who just six days earlier were assured by the Tigers’ coach that “I’m excited about what’s taking place at Missouri, and I plan on being at Missouri.” But they had also grown accustomed to previous flirtations — Anderson turned down $2 million offers and both the Georgia job in 2009 and Oregon one year later.
But the hard feelings felt by Missouri fans over Anderson’s departure were nowhere to be found inside Mizzou Arena at a news conference Wednesday night. Less than 2 hours after a team meeting with Anderson, athletic director Mike Alden repeatedly praised the coach for restoring the national success of a program that rose to prominence under longtime coach Norm Stewart but faltered under Anderson’s predecessor, Quin Snyder.
“We’ve been blessed that he has been with us for the past five years,” Alden said at a hastily arranged news conference. “We wish him nothing but the best.”
Anderson did not attend the news conference, but rising Missouri seniors Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Laurence Bowers also spoke fondly of their former coach. Anderson told them that the call home was too strong to resist, they said.
“I don’t feel coach Anderson would have left here for any place other than Arkansas,” Denmon said.
Anderson was 111-57 in five seasons at Missouri, including an appearance in the Elite Eight in 2009. The Tigers were 23-11 this season, losing to Cincinnati in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He was 89-41 in four seasons at Alabama-Birmingham before that.
Ochocinco winded in workout
Kansas City, Mo. — Switching from football to soccer won’t be easy for Chad Ochocinco, if it happens at all.
Locked out of his day job, Ochocinco opened a four-day tryout with Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, and by the end of his first day with the Major League Soccer team the star receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals was panting.
“Exactly what I expected,” the six-time Pro Bowler explained. “I would be a little winded being that I haven’t ran at this pace or this level since the end of our season of football. It was fun. I didn’t expect to come in here and be Superman.”
Ochocinco plans to go through with the tryout, and, if possible, join the MLS team. The famously spotlight-hungry player insisted he was motivated by love for a sport that was actually his first choice until his grandmother persuaded him to focus on football after the 10th grade.
“I would play for free,” he said.
Wearing No. 85, of course, Ochocinco worked out with more than 40 media representatives lining the practice field, roughly 10 times the number that normally show up for a midweek workout. He moved fluidly on the cold, blustery day and was taller than almost all the professional soccer players on the field.
His athleticism was obvious and so was his soccer rust after so many years away from the game.
“The time I’ve had off from the game of this football has been a very long time,” he said. “There’s no way I can make up that ground, the years I’ve been away from the game. But I do have a love for it.”
Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes knows many people will view the tryout as a publicity stunt, either by Ochocinco or the team.
“I’ve said this before — I’ve always considered it from the very beginning to be a long shot. But I can tell you this, we bring trialists in all the time,” Vermes said. “To be frank, they’re always long shots. But we also bring guys in with much lesser physical tools than he has and they get trials with us as well. It’s very normal in our sport to do this. It’s just different because it’s a guy who’s coming from the NFL.
“I did not want it to be a media thing for him. He said it wasn’t.”
Bonds’ friend says he saw syringe
San Francisco — Barry Bonds looked at the witness stand with a blank expression as a childhood friend and former business partner described how baseball’s biggest star walked into the master bedroom at his spring training home along with trainer Greg Anderson, who had a syringe with a needle. A few minutes later, Bonds and Anderson walked out.
Steve Hoskins testified in federal court Wednesday that he never saw Anderson inject Bonds. The question for the jury will be whether Hoskins’ description, which the defense began to challenge later in the day, is a path toward convicting Bonds of lying when he told a grand jury seven years ago he never knowingly took steroids.
Schottenheimer returns to coaching
Virginia Beach, Va. — Longtime former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer has been hired as head coach and general manager of the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL.
Schottenheimer was introduced Wednesday as the first coach of the franchise. The Destroyers will begin play this season, the third year of existence for the United Football League.
A veteran of 30 years of NFL experience as a coach and player, Schottenheimer has a career coaching record of 205-139-1 (.596). He coached Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington and San Diego, taking a Chargers team that was 4-12 in 2003 to 12-4 and the division title in 2004.
Schottenheimer is the fourth prominent former NFL coach to take on the same job in the UFL, joining Jim Fassel (Las Vegas), Dennis Green (Sacramento) and Jerry Glanville (Hartford).
Texas Tech introduces Gillispie
Lubbock, Texas — The Billy Gillispie era has begun at Texas Tech.
The school introduced its new basketball coach Wednesday, and Gillispie said it feels like he has come home. The 51-year-old Abilene native is 140-85 in seven seasons as a Div. I coach, and he previously led UTEP and Texas A&M; to remarkable turnarounds.
Gillispie flashed the school’s “Guns Up” sign before stepping to the podium and telling a crowd of about 800 at the basketball arena that he can’t guarantee every game will be a win.
“I can guarantee there is not anybody that’s going to come into this place and play harder than us or better together than us,” Gillispie said. “I’ll guarantee that to happen.”
Gillispie replaces Pat Knight, who was fired March 7.
Gillispie returns to coaching after two seasons away. Kentucky fired him in 2009 after the Wildcats went 40-27 in his two seasons and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 17 years.
Gillispie arrives with some baggage. Five months after he was fired by Kentucky, he was arrested for drunken driving. In November 2009, he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, accepting a plea bargain.
The arrest was at least the third time Gillispie has been accused of driving under the influence. In 1999, Gillispie was arrested on two charges: driving while intoxicated and improper use of a lane in Tulsa, Okla., where he was an assistant coach under Bill Self, now the Kansas coach.