Anderson, a former assistant at Arkansas for 17 years before leaving in 2002 for the head coaching job at Alabama-Birmingham and then Mizzou, was obviously touched by the show of fan support. And the festive atmosphere was interrupted only briefly when a question concerning his departure from Mizzou sparked boos from the crowd. When asked why he never made a public appearance before Tiger fans to explain his decision and say his good-byes, several boos were heard and Anderson quickly responded, "No, no. That's legit. That's legit." But then he stumbled around in giving a response, saying in part "we did issue a press release for the fans." He was also asked why in the days leading up to his decision to leave Mizzou, he had told fans in Columbia that he did not plan on leaving. "When I made that statement I meant it from the heart," Anderson replied. But during my time at Mizzou, the call of the Hogs kept coming."
From the huge fan turn-out, it was obvious why Anderson chose to return to Fayetteville. "I am happy to be back home," Anderson said. "This is home to Mike Anderson. I spent 17 years here. My kids grew up here. It's always been in the back of my mind."
Several former players also showed up to support their old coach. All-American Todd Day, who went on to an NBA career, said, "We got one of our own to to come back and get this thing together. You couldn't pick a hotter coach right now than Mike Anderson."
Even former athletic director Frank Broyles, who himself left Mizzou back in 1958 to come to Arkansas where he became a legendary football coach, turned out to show his support of Anderson. It was Broyles as athletic director who fired Anderson's mentor, Nolan Richardson in 2002. And it was Broyles who by-passed Anderson for Stan Heath in choosing Richardon's successor after Anderson had gone 1-1 as the interim coach. Many people felt that Anderson may not have come back home had Broyles not retired as athletic director in 2007, but the two exchanged hugs at the press conference and Broyles said, "we're very flattered that he would leave a great school like Missouri with the great basketball tradition they have and come back. I know it was a difficult decision.
So the homecoming is over. Now it's time for Anderson to get to work and for Mizzou to find Anderson's replacement.