What's Next?

Now the NCAA tournament has officially begun and some seasons are ending, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long can speed up the process of finding a new basketball coach for the Razorbacks.

When asked Sunday night about when Arkansas might have a new head basketball coach in place, Razorback athletic director Jeff Long offered up the following time-table.

"We won't talk to candidates until after they are done with the NCAA," Long said. "So I think you'd have to believe that it would be somewhere around when the Final Four takes place. If a candidate becomes identified earlier, then it could move quicker."

It is known that Long met with several former Razorbacks in Fayetteville on Wednesday night in an effort to get their input.

That group included Ron Brewer, Jim Counce, Charles Balentine, Scotty Thurman, Lee Mayberry, Blake Eddins, Jonathan Modica and John Engskov.

One of the prospective candidates that now would be free to talk is former Arkansas assistant and current Missouri head coach Mike Anderson.

Cincinnati downed Missouri 78-63 Thursday night, which ended the Tigers' season at 23-11.

While there has been speculation that the Razorbacks might not look to the past for a future head coach, multiple sources told Hawgs Illustrated Thursday that there was now mutual "legitimate" interest on both sides in exploring a return to Arkansas for the former Nolan Richardson assistant.

Asked about that after Thursday night's loss, Anderson replied "I don't deal with rumors. That's a rumor, and I thought I'd dealt with that already."

Anderson has indeed said that he plans to stay at Missouri, where he is 111-57 in five seasons. He is 200-98 overall as a head coach when adding in four seasons at Alabama-Birmingham.

"In this day and age, speculation always runs rampant all the time, and it seems like every year, we get to this stage and speculation starts growing," Anderson told the Columbia Tribune earlier this month. "So people are saying something — people that I don't even know. One thing, I don't deal in speculation. So it's getting old, really.

"My point to you is that No. 1, I'm a Missouri Tiger," Anderson added. "We love it here. I said we're going to win a national championship. We're going to do it here. I plan on being at Missouri a long time. That's where I'm coming from."

Now that Missouri's season is over, we can see if Arkansas will put a legitimate offer in Anderson's court and if he indeed is locked in with the Tigers.

There is absolutely no guarantee that Anderson would take the offer as sources indicate he is indeed happy at Missouri and should have a very good team next season.

Other speculative candidates still coaching in the NCAA Tournament include Marquette's Buzz Williams, Kansas State's Frank Martin, Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon, VCU's Shaka Smart, Xavier's Chris Mack and Cincinnati's Mick Cronin.

Marquette will play Xavier Friday night at 6:27 p.m. while Texas A&M battles Florida State at 4:10 p.m.

VCU – which won a "First Four" game 59-46 over USC on Wednesday - faces Georgetown Friday at 8:50 p.m.

Martin's Kansas State team whipped Utah State 73-68 on Thursday night and advances to play Wisconsin on Saturday.

Arkansas is also known to have interest in Wichita State's Gregg Marshall, whose team destroyed Nebraska 76-59 on Tuesday night.

The Shockers (25-8) will travel to play Virginia Tech (22-11) at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning in the second round.

For more information about the coaching search go to the Hawgs Illustrated basketball message board.

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