COLUMBIA, Mo. (CBSMiami) – Former University of Miami head basketball coach Frank Haith has gone from being loathed by the Hurricanes fan base to being revered by the fans at the University of Missouri; and he might soon have a national honor to go along with his stellar season.
Haith was hired away from Miami after last season, but folks in Miami weren’t exactly upset to see Haith leave. He had mixed success at UM and had difficulty reaching the NCAA Tournament while with the Canes.
When Haith was hired by Missouri, Tiger fans reacted with an overwhelmingly negative response. Many asked, why him, why now? Haith was faced with having to get not only his team to buy into his philosophy, but also the fan base.
Since the start of the season, all Haith and the Tigers is done is go 24-2 and lead the Big XII Conference in Mizzou’s final season in the conference. Along the way, Haith’s team has become the nation’s leader in offensive efficiency, while playing with just seven scholarship players.
Wednesday night, Mizzou avenged one of its two losses this season by completely annihilating the Oklahoma State Sooners, 83-65. The score was closer than the game actually was, with Mizzou closing out the first half with a 37-12 run.
Haith’s team at Mizzou has enjoyed several things that he could never have had at Miami. His team plays in a state of the art arena that is second to none of any team in the country.
The fans are just as passionate about basketball as they are football, as is the university staff.
Add that into a lineup of mainly seniors playing out their careers and it’s easy to see why the Tigers have vaulted into the top 3 in the country in all polls. It’s also put Haith in a very unique position.
Haith has gone from basically being told get out by Miami Hurricanes fans to being on the verge of being named the National Coach of the Year at Mizzou.
Haith’s team has just five games left, with three of those games being on the road.
Mizzou’s season will be decided when the Tigers roll into Allen Fieldhouse on February 25. Haith’s coach of the year credentials could also be on the line when the Tigers face the Jayhawks that night.
For Miami, the basketball team is in good hands with Jim Larranga as the team’s head coach. But this season, the Canes are firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble and it may be ready to burst any day now.
The Canes desperately needed a win Wednesday night over North Carolina, but came up short 73-64. The Canes can still win games against Wake Forest, Maryland, North Carolina State, and Boston College, but would need to sweep those four games to secure a bid.
The Canes also have a chance to make a dent in the ACC Tournament next month to improve its NCAA credentials.
Canes fans don’t miss Haith, but Mizzou fans are thankful that the man Miami couldn’t wait to get rid of has fallen into their laps and taken them to new heights.
What happens after this year though will ultimately define Haith’s legacy at Mizzou.