BREAKING: Frank Haith headed to Missouri

Stop the press!  That's right: as SportsByBrooks first reported, it looks like Missouri will hire Frank Haith to succeed Mike Anderson.  Haith was 129-101 in six seasons at Miami--though that record comes with a strong caveat because he never managed to crack better than 8-8 in conference play.  Haith's Hurricanes went to the NIT in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011.  He made one NCAA Tournament (in 2008) and won one game.

Right now the hire is getting just ripped to shreds on Twitter.  I can understand why: just a couple of days ago Missouri seemed ready to pull a huge coup and bring Matt Painter in from Purdue, and Frank Haith is no Matt Painter.  That said, I think Haith can be successful at Missouri.

  • He's a great recruiter.  Look at his rosters in Miami: he's had a lot of talent over the last six seasons (and has a solid team built for next season with Durand Scott, Malcolm Grant and Reggie Johnson assuming they all stay).  No doubt, better facilities and better support will only help.
  • Remember he's coming from Miami.  I often make jokes about Nebraska not caring about basketball, but Miami makes Nebraska look like Kentucky.  Miami averaged 4700 fans in 2010, and having watched many of those games that's a very generous estimate (Nebraska by comparison averaged nearly 10,000).  Home court advantage doesn't exist.
  • His win loss record is misleading.  As @hokieguru pointed out on Twitter, this season Miami lost 8 games by a total of 15 points. Next year, I'd be shocked if the Hurricanes don't make the Big Dance.

The bottom line is Haith hasn't been given a great chance to prove himself (other than as a recruiter, where he's done very well).  I definitely understand fans' disappointment that he's not Matt Painter (or Shaka Smart), but he's not a horrendous hire.  There's been some speculation that this is a "panic hire."  That makes sense, as Missouri just missed out on heralded recruit Ben McElmore.  McElmore might have chosen Kansas anyways, but Mike Anderson leaving (and the uncertainty that followed) probably made the decision easier.  Regardless, without knowing who Missouri reached out to (besides Painter) and who turned them down, it's impossible to know.  

Haith's first task is to keep the current roster together.  Missouri has a very strong team right now, and it's critical for his success (and his perception) to keep players from transferring or leaving early.  Justin Safford was the only senior with significant minutes, so most of Mizzou's critical pieces should still be in place.  This means Haith will inherit a deep, experienced team that has good leadership.  If he keeps everyone, I think Haith can do wonders for what looks to be a tough initial reception from Missouri fans very quickly.

One final thought: Miami may be a bad basketball job, but don't forget Frank Martin has very strong ties to the Miami basketball scene.  I'm not sure he'd go (Kansas State is definitely a better job, and Miami may not be willing to shell out the money), but it's definitely a possibility.

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