Columbia, Mo. For his first dinner out as the new Missouri basketball coach, Frank Haith took his family to Murry’s, which had an appealing choice on the menu.
“The special that night was ’Spaghetti Haith,’ which was pretty unbelievable,” Haith said in his office Tuesday. “My wife said, ’You owe it to (them) to get the special.’ And so I did get the special.”
That was a week ago — and still stands as the last moment of peace he had before becoming consumed in a whirlwind of sleeplessness, indiscriminate eating and travel all swirling toward one end.
Recruiting the players he’s inheriting, who in his words lost their “father figure” when Mike Anderson left them for Arkansas; recruiting the fan base, which largely has been lukewarm at best about his hiring; recruiting assistant coaches, crucial to the foundation and perception of his program.
And, most immediately to some, recruiting prospects for the future with the five-week spring signing period set to begin today.
For all he’s expended, all indications on Tuesday were Haith would have no signings to announce today.
While Haith feels urgency to get recruiting buzzing with three scholarships to give, he is determined not to act just to appease, either.
Not that the impulse wouldn’t be understandable after the initial furor over his seven-year record at Miami, which included one NCAA Tournament appearance and a 43-69 ACC record.
“I don’t feel like because of the criticism of the hire that I have to do something right away just to prove something to people,” he said. “I’m not going to operate like that. In due time that will take care of itself.”
As for the moment, “I don’t want to just give out scholarships just to be giving them out just so I can say I got one done on the first day. Because then that’s usually one that ends up not working out and transferring.”
Besides, he added, “We’ve got a team in terms of depth that can play next year, and so that’s something I have to really look at in terms of recruiting decisions.”
Unless he can line up big men for immediate help, Haith said, he in some ways has to think in terms of the next two recruiting classes, because MU will lose six players after next season.
“Maybe we want to look at transfer situations,” he said, noting players then would be with the program a year and know the system for the 2012-13 season.
Since meeting with the players April 5 before his introductory news conference, Haith said he picks out a couple guys every night and “stays in touch.”
“We need to build relationships where they understand what I’m all about,” he said.
Taking care of himself can wait.
“I’ve been in a lot of different cities,” he said. “I can’t even remember where I started, to be honest with you.
“No one’s going to put more pressure on me than I put on myself,” he said, adding, “I think this is a gold mine, I really do.”