Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Haith's past creates more instability for a school seeking the opposite

Way back in April, long before the latest wave of conference realignment began to gain steam, there was news out of Columbia, Missouri some would argue was much more controversial than Mizzou's jump to the SEC.

It was the hiring of Frank Haith, checkered past and all, to replace Mike Anderson as the school's head basketball coach.

Don't feel guilty if it slipped your mind — some around Columbia would probably still have trouble picking Haith out of a lineup. But that's neither your fault or Haith's, though Missouri's refusal to showcase its new coach to this point may be just as much a result of his on and off-the-court success (or lack thereof) at the University of Miami as it has been with Mizzou's never-ending flirtation with the SEC.

The reaction to Haith's hiring last spring was mostly mixed. No one knew him. After a little research, though, one could stumble upon some very alarming facts about his tenure in Miami.

For instance:

In his seven years as coach of the Hurricanes, Haith's teams made the NCAA tournament only ONCE.

In his seven years as coach of the Hurricanes, Haith's teams had just a .384 winning percentage in ACC play.

In his seven years as coach of the Hurricanes, Haith's teams never once had a winning record in conference play.

In his seven years as coach of the Hurricanes, Haith's teams never finished higher than fifth in the conference.

And so on. On the forefront, for a university hell-bent on preaching the 'bigger and better things' mantra, Haith seemed to be a substantial downgrade to Anderson. After rebuilding the program in the wake of the Quin Snyder circus, who exactly was athletic director Mike Alden handing the reigns over to? Was Haith even worthy, let-alone able to continue to build off of Anderson's success?

But those questions were being asked before reports surfaced of the Miami recruiting scandal.

In August, Nevin Shapiro, a former Miami booster, as part of a much-larger school scandal, claimed Haith had knowledge of money exchanging hands in an effort to secure recruit DeQuan Jones. The scandal allegedly involved players having prostitutes and abortions — amongst other things — paid for by boosters.

The NCAA has not handed down punishment for any wrongdoings done by Haith.

Alden, with most of his time presumably occupied by the SEC's finest, passively chose to stick with Haith without reiterating his commitment to him, while most of Tiger-nation called for the job of a man who had yet to coach a game.

And now, with the SEC decision final, Mizzou will head into its final Big 12 season Friday with a head coach who has never run a clean program or won anything of importance.

It all just seems messy and unfortunate. Would Alden have chosen Haith had the SEC jump been made prior to Anderson's departure? Would Anderson have thought-twice about going to Arkansas had he known Mizzou would soon become a conference rival? Would Alden have been more bold in his coaching search had he been able to use to the SEC-card to lure coaches?

Haith had little time to recruit for next season and beyond after his hiring in April. Mizzou basketball's first two seasons in the SEC could look worse than Anderson's first two in the Big 12. One could argue the program is less stable now than the day Snyder bolted.

And for a school that spent the last three months seeking a more stable conference, that's saying a lot.

No comments:

Post a Comment