‘Bama should learn from AU’s, UAB’s mistake

Published 5:11 pm Thursday, March 26, 2009

If things don’t change quickly, Alabama may be on its way to making the same mistake that Auburn and UAB have made. That is not finding a way to keep Mike Anderson here.

After UAB made the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2004, Auburn had the chance to hire Mike Anderson and instead hired Jeff Lebo. The two years after that, UAB couldn’t work out a deal to keep Anderson here, and he left for Missouri. Now the Missouri Tigers are in the Sweet 16 and have a legitimate shot to make the Final Four as a No. 3 seed.

Now, Alabama looks like it’s passing up an opportunity to bring Anderson to his home state. Reports this week have showed that the Crimson Tide is wooing Virginia Commonwealth coach Anthony Grant to T-town, and Grant has possibly been offered the job. While I think Grant is a very capable coach, Anderson seems like a better fit for Alabama than Grant. That’s because Anderson would energize Alabama’s basketball fans like no other coach can.

At Missouri, they are selling out their home games, and Missouri stayed ranked in the AP Top 25 most of the season. They took some lumps over the last couple of seasons playing a very brutal schedule, but the Tigers are better for it. They had a good chance to knock off Memphis last night. (Note: This column is being written before the game’s conclusion).

If Anderson would have gone to Auburn, there would not be a seven-year drought of NCAA tournaments on the Plains. Auburn would have been in the tournament at least two years ago and would be competing for an SEC championship each year.

Anderson’s enthusiasm gets a fan base excited, like it has in Missouri. People will show up in the stands. (Notice I didn’t say seats because fans don’t usually sit down too much for Anderson’s style of play).

Grant just isn’t the kind of coach most Alabama basketball fans are wanting. They want Anderson because they know Alabama will be relevant in basketball again, and it won’t take six years to do it.

This is one case where the fans are absolutely right.