Missouri Hires UM Basketball Coach Frank Haith, Confusing Canes and Tigers Fans Alike

Sometimes, you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Or so hopes the University of Missouri, which is set today to hire away UM basketball coach Frank Haith -- a man so under-the-radar at Football U that Canes fans this morning are scratching their heads en masse at the headlines and wondering why they've heard of this guy. Is he a linebackers coach or something?

Given that just a couple months ago we wondered whether Haith had been too mediocre to keep his job, the hire has many Missouri fans as baffled as the Coral Gables football crowd.

If you look at the numbers, you could argue that Haith has done a solid, if underwhelming, job of making UM competitive in the tough-as-nails ACC.

The Canes actually won 23 games this season, Haith's third 20-win campaign at the school, and worked their way into the third round of the NIT tournament.

But Haith also only managed a single NCAA tournament win in his time in Coral Gables, back in 2008. The program never came close to threatening the marquee names in the ACC, going 0-4 against Duke and North Carolina this year (though the Canes did take the Tar Heels to the wire in the ACC tourney.)

So why does Missouri want this guy again?

In St. Louis, Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell argues that Haith "was competing ... against other schools with decidedly better basketball traditions. Yet Haith made it work."

Burwell also concedes that Haith was "a completely off the radar ... jaw-dropping surprise."

Either way, with Haith gone interim UM athletic director Tony Hernandez has a hell of a job on his hands to find someone else willing to take on the job. Think of it as a diverting sideshow until Al Golden's spring practices get rolling. Boy voyage, Haith.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink