Mediocrity a generous term for Mizzou?

Reproduced in Full from the Dallas Morning News, without permission.

Mizzou's misery reaching new lows in Snyder eraBy Keith Whitmire The Dallas Morning News 02/07/2005

DALLAS -- Saturday was a bizarre day for the Big 12. Five of six road teams won in a league that is known for being tough on visitors.

But something maybe even more puzzling happened the day before to the one road team that did lose Saturday.

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden announced coach Quin Snyder would be returning for the 2005-06 season.

It's a curious decision given the state of Missouri basketball. The Tigers aren't good, and they're on probation. Questions about Snyder's future were popping up like those annoying ads on the Internet.

Missouri's 91-63 loss at Texas A&M was its seventh in eight games. The Tigers have lost four in a row and are 2-7 in league play. That gives them just one more win than last-place Baylor, another team saddled with sanctions.

In some respects, the future is brighter for Baylor. When the Bears had their troubles, they cleaned house and started over with a bright, young coach in Scott Drew who has zero integrity issues.

Snyder, on the other hand, seemingly broke rules from the moment he arrived at Missouri in 1999. Problems arose with his first two recruits, Arthur Johnson and Rickey Paulding, when Missouri allowed their mothers to fly with them on charters for their official visits.

That's a no-no, although the school pleaded ignorance to the violation. Hard to believe Snyder, who came out of Mike Krzyzewski's highly respected program at Duke, wouldn't know the rulebook inside out, but a rookie head coach is allowed a mistake or two.

Number two would come in 2001, when Snyder was reported to have talked to two Illinois high school players before the NCAA allows contact with underclassmen. Another no-no, but not an overly serious one.

The 40 violations alleged during the recent NCAA scandal were mostly minor as well. Snyder was implicated, along with his wife, for improperly providing meals and gifts to recruits.

A couple of assistants were let go, but Snyder survived that storm. The question now is whether the program will survive another year of Snyder.

Snyder is hardly the Jerry Tarkanian of the 21st century, but he's definitely on the NCAA's radar. Once on, it's hard to get off.

Besides, it's not as if the youthful Snyder has proven to be a whiz-kid coach. The Tigers reached the Elite Eight in 2002, but Snyder's teams have never finished higher than a tie for fifth in the Big 12 regular-season standings.

Snyder has had talented teams that underachieved in the regular season, only to catch fire in the urgency of postseason play.

This year, Missouri is 10-12 overall and no threat for a postseason run.

If Snyder were to be let go, Missouri has a lot to offer a new coach. Missouri is a place that appreciates college basketball, exemplified by its plush, new arena. The Tigers have been to the NCAA Tournament 20 times since 1976.

If Snyder is removed, Missouri would owe him only $585,000 in base salary for a contract that runs through the 2007-08 season. Considering the millions donated for a new arena, money shouldn't be the issue in whether to keep Snyder.

The problem is the baggage he created. Missouri's three-year probation handed down in November includes the loss of one scholarship next season and two scholarships in 2006-07.

Plus, Missouri's coaches cannot recruit off-campus until November 2005. The sanctions prevent a new coach from getting a running start in recruiting.

So the Tigers will stick with the old coach. Announcing that he will be around for another season ends the speculation for now, but the misery continues with each loss.