Like most people following the search for Missouri’s next coach, I too learned this weekend that there is interest in Matt Painter, the head coach at Purdue. There is also interest from Painter in talking with Mizzou, but do the Tigers really have a shot at getting Painter?
When Mike Anderson announced last week that he was leaving for Arkansas, the first name I thought of that the Tigers could target was Cuonzo Martin at Missouri State. He led them to their first Missouri Valley Conference regular season title and in three years, he went 61-41. I had several friends ask about Painter and I said that’s a great name to add to the wish list, but I saw it as a lateral move.
First, Painter is a Purdue guy. He worked under Gene Keady and they are very close. Painter is making a name for himself at Purdue where they have gone to six of the last seven NCAA tournaments and had a solid team this year, but like others, fell to VCU.
My second concern comes after learning that Martin and Painter have the same agent. Martin worked under Keady, then Painter, before taking the Missouri State job. I would figure that Martin would at least want an interview for the Purdue job if there was a strong possibility that Painter would leave.
However, there are positives in Missouri’s favor of landing someone like Painter. They have the money that maybe Purdue doesn’t have. Painter makes $1.3 million. I’m not saying Painter would get the $2 million that Missouri offered Anderson, but he could get $1.8 million and that could be enough to sway to Painter. Plus, Director of Athletics Mike Alden said they want the next coach to look at Missouri as a destination. If Alden can pull a guy away from his alma mater and pay him close to what the premier college coaches are getting, he’d have a coach that would make Columbia, Mo. a destination.
The other angle in all of this is that Painter could just be leveraging Missouri against Purdue. Much the same way Anderson leverage Georgia, Memphis and Oregon rumors to get more money out of Missouri, Painter could be doing the same with Purdue. He says he’s interested in talking to Missouri, Purdue says they want him to stay and gives him another couple hundred thousand dollars to keep him happy. Perhaps that’s why Martin jumped at the Tennessee offer?
Regardless of which way this falls, reports I’ve seen said an answer could come as early as Tuesday.