This may be an unpopular opinion in Mid-Missouri, but I still root for Quin Snyder.
High school and college kids may only recognize Snyder as the head coach of the Utah Jazz, his current job. But I will always remember the Duke Law School graduate as the former Missouri men's basketball head coach.
I won't recite Snyder's biography during his tenure at Missouri, because there simply aren't enough column inches for me to go into all the detail of his seven seasons with the Tigers. It was quite the roller-coaster ride, and one that didn't end well.
However, if I had to summarize his stay in Columbia in one sentence, I think I could manage that. It would go a little something like this: Snyder had the promise of being a great college coach, but it just didn't work out, whether it was due to immaturity or due to the pressure of taking over for a local legend.
First off, I think Snyder get a bad rap. When he took over at Missouri in 1999 following Norm Stewart's retirement, Snyder was considered perhaps the top assistant coach in the country. At the time, he was a 32-year-old associate head coach at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski, and during the Blue Devils' NCAA Tournament run, Snyder would often do the halftime TV interviews instead of Coach K, already looking and sounding like a head coach.
Also, keep this in mind: Stewart was also 32 when he was hired by Missouri in 1967. It truly did seem like lightning was striking twice for the Tigers.
And early on, it appeared to be a great hire. By Year 3, Snyder led Missouri to the Elite Eight, making the 12th-seeded Tigers the lowest-seeded team to advance that far in the NCAA Tournament, a feat they still hold to this day.
But pretty soon, Snyder's early success was marred by NCAA violations and the Tigers' inability to be a perennial NCAA Tournament team, and before the 2005-06 season could conclude, he resigned.
Now most coaches would take a year off, regroup and then perhaps find another Division I coaching job. But not Snyder. He hasn't coached at the college level since.
First he started in the NBA's D-League (now known as the G League), then became an NBA assistant and even spent a season overseas coaching professionally in Russia.
Then, in 2014, the Jazz hired Snyder as their next head coach. In a little more than eight years, Snyder had gone from wondering if he would ever coach again to leading an NBA team.
Snyder is slowly but surely turning Utah into one of the powers in the NBA. The Jazz have made the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, a feat not easily accomplished in the Western Conference.
Utah has quite the roster with the likes of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. The Jazz also possess the NBA's sixth man of the year in Jordan Clarkson — adding more Missouri flair to the franchise — and held the No. 1 seed in the playoffs this year.
But having the best regular-season record doesn't guarantee a team the Larry O'Brien Trophy, and the Jazz had their season come to an end Friday with a Game 6 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals.
Still, I think the Jazz have to be pleased with Snyder's performance. He's already the second-longest tenured coach in franchise history, although he does have a long way to go to catch Jerry Sloan. If Utah is able to shore up a few things, I can see the Jazz contending for an NBA title again next season.
When folks complain about Snyder's tenure at Missouri, I often roll my eyes, because I know what I'm going to hear. Those folks will often say the Tigers should have hired either Bill Self — who was then coaching at Tulsa and has become a hall of famer at Kansas — or John Calipari — who had just been fired by the New Jersey Nets and became a hall of famer at Kentucky.
This is a classic case of hindsight being 20/20. Snyder was the perfect candidate for the job, but it just didn't work out. It happens.
As I get older, I begin to wonder whether or not I will see Missouri play in the Final Four, let alone win a national championship. If the Jazz win a title under Snyder, I think I get to count that as a quasi-championship for the Tigers.