Normally, a college basketball fan base doesn’t hate its coach and demand his ouster until he has lost his first game, or at the very least officially has been hired.
Not so for an angry mob of Missouri boosters, young and old, ready to run athletic director Mike Alden out of town before he even was given the courtesy of having a team broadcaster tell him his services won’t be needed any longer.
That’s how upset Missouri fans, from Antlers to mega-deep pockets, reportedly were with the revelation that Miami (Fla.) coach Frank Haith had been chosen to replace Mike Anderson, who bolted for Arkansas.
Haith’s Hurricanes drew small crowds and made the tournament once in his seven years at the ACC school. To put this in perspective, Haith’s overall record of 129-101 (.561) and conference mark of 43-69 (.384) made him only slightly more successful than a local coach who has been on the job seven years.
Kansas women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson has gone 117-108 (.520) overall and 35-77 (.313) in the Big 12 and has one fewer NCAA Tourney appearance than Haith.
The Haith hiring and reaction to it reminded me of standing in a Las Vegas casino window line with my oldest of five brothers 25 years or so ago. The guy in front of us turned around, said it made absolutely no sense that a team was favored over another by only three points.
“That line should be at least seven,” he said. “Every time this happens, I fall for it, and the team I bet on goes straight down the toilet. Just watch, this one will go straight down the toilet.”
A few hours later, the unlucky man’s ticket was sent to the sewer.
In baseball, when a pitching matchup looks completely one-sided, it’s what’s known as a reverse lock. The pitcher that in no way can lose, loses.
That’s the only thing I can think of to make sense out of Mizzou’s decision. It’s a reverse lock. It can’t possibly work, so maybe that’s why it will. Haith will coach more talent next season in Columbia than he ever did in Miami. He developed Texas recruiting ties as an assistant coach for Texas A&M and Texas. Maybe Alden knew what he was doing.
More likely, Haith was hired because nobody was in a rush to coach Missouri in what is about to become a hornet’s nest of a conference.
Bill Self at Kansas and Rick Barnes at Texas will always reload and contest every year for top-dog status. Billy Gillispie, not affiliated with any schools since getting canned by Kentucky, hasn’t had to follow NCAA rules regarding contact with recruits. He has so many studs lined up already it won’t take him long to turn Texas Tech into a full-fledged national powerhouse. Mark Turgeon’s, Lon Kruger’s and Frank Martin’s teams always play tough defense. Baylor always has highly rated talent.
Why would Shaka Smart put his soaring stock at risk against that schedule and those proven coaches? Why would Matt Painter want anything to do with the Missouri job beyond using it for a raise from Purdue?
Haith had to accept the offer because he was walking the plank at Miami, and he’ll be well-compensated. Still, you have to feel for a guy whose honeymoon ended before he even got to taste the wedding cake.