I was like a majority of MIZZOU fans on the day Frank Haith was hired. I was stunned. Granted, I’m not a college basketball expert. Nevertheless, Haith was not the man I expected Athletic Director Mike Alden to trust to lead MIZZOU back to respectability. Truth be told, Alden wasn’t convinced either, but he had to save face in a hurry. So, Haith became the new round ball leader in 2011.
Perhaps, respectability is too harsh a term when describing Haith’s task in Columbia. MIZZOU wasn’t a disaster under Mike Anderson. He left a solid team that Haith led to an outstanding 30-5 record in 2011-2012. Optimism for the new coach was high despite the first round loss to Norfolk State in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Even allegations of violations at Haith’s previous gig, Miami, couldn’t slow down the Faith In Haith bandwagon.
Then, the 2012-2013 season unfolded: An 11-7 SEC record with an overall tally of 23-11 and another first round exit in the NCAA Tournament. That was followed by a 9-9 SEC campaign and 23-12 overall 2013-2013 record. Those led to an empty MIZZOU Arena far too much, including a complete embarrassment of attendance in two NIT games.
Haith’s recruiting classes were disappointments, and the future of MIZZOU basketball wasn’t bright. There was no longer a crowded Faith In Haith bandwagon, and Alden certainly wasn’t the driver.
Despite all of this, I was surprised there was a real possibility that Haith would bolt for Tulsa. As it turns out, the deal was basically done by the time we learned Haith was boarding a plane in Columbia.
ESPN reported that Haith will be paid $1,850,000 over the next seven years, which is less than his $1,600,000 MIZZOU deal. However, Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World stated on Inside STL/CBS 920’s The Drive Home that Haith will only make $1,300,000 per year.
There’s no reason a coach should leave an SEC school, albeit not a powerhouse with a dim 2014-2015 outlook (which is Haith’s fault), to play for a school in the American Athletic Conference, especially for LESS MONEY. That is, of course, unless that coach wasn’t fully committed to building a program and wasn’t the right man for the SEC (Big 12 at the time of hire) job in the first place.