By Darren Hellwege, KBIA Sports Director
When Arkansas took Mike Anderson away from Missouri to become their head basketball coach a couple of weeks back, Tiger fans were pretty angry. They were unhappy their coach had left, unhappy about how he left, and in general most wished that Mike Anderson had stuck around.
Now that Mizzou has done the same to another fan base, their reaction seems to be…relief.
Greg Cote, columnist with the Miami Herald, told KBIA that while Haith may be successful at Missouri, his time at Miami was a bit of a letdown and fans there are not sad to see him go.
“He’s not a beloved coach down here. Not a lot of Miami fans are wringing their hands down here. Missouri, a pretty established program over the years, is hiring a guy who is pretty much on the outs here.”
In a poll on his blog at the Herald’s website, 66 percent of those responding are “glad” he’s gone and felt he was a disappointment, 22 percent have mixed feelings and only about 12 percent are sad he’s leaving.
However, while Hurricane fans may not have been impressed with Haith as a coach, like most people Cote was very impressed with him as a person. “You can question him as a coach, but you can’t question the man that Missouri’s getting. He’s a good guy. He’s a man of integrity. He’s a good recruiter for a reason, he sells himself honestly. He’s earned that respect, and I think the world of him personally.
“Maybe the change is what he needs, maybe he’ll do great there. But here, he just wasn’t able to get over the hump and build the fan base.”
One other thing that should be good news for Tigers fans is that Haith is known for an upbeat style that Tigers fans have become used to. “This is a guard-driven team that likes to get the ball up the court, Haith is a guy who’s going to fit what Missouri likes to do, and will recruit to that style. He likes those quick guards.”
Cote also noted that Miami had been closer to having a good record than some might realize. At one point, the Hurricanes lost four conference games in a row, falling to Florida State, North Carolina State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech…by two, two, three, and four points respectively. They entered the streak at 12-5 and feeling good about the season, but the close losses had to wear confidence down. The Hurricanes still came into the ACC tourney with a chance at one of the last NCAA at-large bids but they lost those chances with a second round loss, against to North Carolina, again by an achingly close margin—two points.
“His teams lost a lot of close games, it seemed like he was always almost ready for the next level and could never quite get there,” said Cote. “But the bottom line, the fans are happy for a change.”