Missouri Casts Its Lot With Frank Haith

Posted by jstevrtc on April 4th, 2011

Like most of the college basketball world, Frank Haith was in Houston over the weekend. After taking in some Final Four action, it looks like he’ll come back with a sweet souvenir: the head coaching job at the University of Missouri.

On Monday, he’ll fly back to the University of Miami and tell the team he just left about his decision. We think they probably already know.

Haith took the reins at Miami before the 2004-05 season as the Hurricanes began play in the ACC. His best season came in 2007-08 when he led his team to an overall 23-11 record and an 8-8 mark in the ACC that tied them for fifth in the league. They lost to Texas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament that season. Miami was his first head coaching job after working nineteen seasons as an assistant at six different schools.

Haith Is Now the Main Man In Columbia

Missouri’s hire of Haith — which was announced less than an hour ago, as of this writing — raises several questions. Just days ago, Missouri was supposedly close to wresting Matt Painter from Purdue, but he ended up inking a new eight-year deal to remain a Boilermaker. Painter has been a head coach for seven seasons, fronting Southern Illinois for the 2003-04 season, leading the Salukis to 25-5 overall, a 17-1 Missouri Valley Conference mark, and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Since he took over at Purdue before the 2005-06 season, Painter has made the Tournament each year except for his first, making the Sweet 16 twice, and has built a 130-61 (0.681) record, 59-37 in the Big Ten. Haith’s predecessor at Missouri, Mike Anderson, who just left to take the position at Arkansas, has been a head coach for nine seasons, leading the way at UAB for four campaigns before becoming a Tiger in 2006. Anderson posted a 111-57 (0.661) career in Columbia, tallied 43-37 in the Big 12 in his five seasons there, and made the NCAA Tournament the last three years. These numbers suggest the sort of coaching market in which Missouri should find itself.

Haith’s teams at Miami have not performed to that standard. In his seven seasons there, he built a 129-101 ( 0.561) record, but just a 43-69 mark in the ACC. He never finished better than the aforementioned fifth, never posted a winning record in conference, and took his team to just that single appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

That disparity, plus Missouri’s lack of interest in waiting until the off-season coaching carousel really got going before making a move — as well as their apparent refusal to even buy a ticket in the Shaka Smart sweepstakes — have many in the media scratching their heads over this hire. No disrespect to Haith, but he would have been available for Missouri later in the summer, assuming he still wanted to leave Miami. The quickness of the move makes it appear as if Missouri approached this with minimal concern and a shopping list of coaches that consisted of 1) Matt Painter and 2) who cares? Haith is no stranger to Big 12 basketball — he was an assistant coach at Texas A&M from 1992-95 and 1996-97, and at Texas from 2001-04 — and now that he’s officially installed, he deserves a chance just like anyone else. Mike Anderson was not only successful, but played an exciting brand of basketball to which Tiger fans are now accustomed and with which the very name of the school has become synonymous. No matter the style, though, people will back a winner, so Haith must win and win right from the word go in order to acquire and stay in the good graces of the Tiger faithful.

jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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