I haven’t found one yet, but if there is a Missouri fan that is upset Frank Haith is gone...don’t be. Haith leaving for a “lesser” job at Tulsa may be a bit embarrassing for Tiger fans, but in the long run it’s good for the program.
We start with the money because first and foremost that’s what college athletics is about…money. Not academics, not even winning, but money. Tulsa is paying Haith more than Mizzou was which should remind the Mizzou AD’s office that even in the 3 years since hiring Haith there has been great inflation in college basketball. Maybe more importantly, by leaving Haith doesn’t get any buy out that would have come with firing him…which looked inevitable.
Most thought Haith was going into a do or die year. When discussing Haith’s departure, AD Mike Alden said he had already emphasized the importance of the upcoming year to Frank Haith. The Missouri Coach was dead man walking and everyone knew it. With his top 3 scorers all leaving, it was hard to imagine Haith getting back to the NCAA Tournament which was the minimum he would’ve needed to do to save his job. And half way through next year…when his firing seemed inevitable, other Coaches would’ve used it to keep any good recruits from considering Mizzou.
One detriment to Haith leaving could be losing a few top 100 recruits. They may still come, but losing the coach…and the assistants who do much of the lifting in recruiting…can often mean losing the recruits too. Power forward Jakeenan Gant and shooting guard Namon Wright were the prizes of Haith’s class this year. Whoever the new coach is will have to make quick phone calls and try to get them to stay in Columbia.
I’ve been asked a lot over the last few days what I think about Haith leaving. My response is always the same…I won’t know until I see who replaces him. I have no issue with Haith no longer being the coach at Missouri because I knew that would be the case one year from now anyway. The thing that will tell us how losing Haith will be remembered is what Missouri does now to replace him.
Quotes from Final Four
Bill Raftery on UConn Coach Kevin Ollie
“There’s a toughness about this kid and he relates very well to his players.”
On Florida losing to UConn earlier this year
“The defense has gotten so much better for Florida since then and that was a true road game. (Billy Donovan) knows how to put a team together. He’s an old coach kind of a guy and loves the gym.”
Colorado Coach Tad Boyle on Danny Manning to Wake Forrest
“Danny’s a pro. He’s prepared for this. He spent a lot of time on a great staff. Danny doesn’t need my advice. I’m happy for him and he deserves the opportunity.
“I never thought of recruiting against someone. I was recruiting to my school. You have to find that sweet spot where you fit although we all try to out recruit that sweet spot.”
Rangers GM on Prince Fielder
“We were interested in signing him after the 2011 season. We didn’t get him. With Hamilton leaving we had a void from a left handed power presence.”
On Big Salaries
“The important part is getting the player right. That’s the way we were with Darvish. Let’s get the player right we’re not as concerned with the deal.”
Frank Haith deserves one more year….but that’s all. That doesn’t mean he should be fired after next year, either. That means he has next year to prove that he should be back again. Until evidence is provided otherwise Haith should be on a series of one year contracts.
He has been in Columbia for 3 years now…and his record has gotten worse each year…from 30 to 23 to 21 wins. That’s not completely unexpected since he was handed a team full of Seniors with little to no recruits coming in. Haith used transfers as a band aid…and for the most part they have performed well. Alex Oriakhi, Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson, Earnest Ross and Keion Bell have all given the Tigers good minutes and have led the team in the transition from Mike Anderson to Haith.
Some of those are already gone…and others will be gone in a year or two. Then what? Haith has two options…recruit players or continue to bring in transfers. The correct answer is probably a combination of the two. Has Haith proven to do well with either?
As mentioned before he has gotten good minutes and production from many of the transfers over the past few years. The only thing that seems to be lacking at times is their desire and passion for the team. Last year in the NCAA Tourney the effort seemed to be gone. So much so, Haith benched Bell…a senior and one of the teams leading scorers…for much of the game. This year, the team once again seems to be giving up. The effort in a near must win at Tennessee was embarrassing.
Is that a result of Haith’s coaching? Or is it a result of a lack of connection to the University and their teammates? One thing Haith had in that first year was a team of guys that had been on campus at Mizzou from their freshman year on. They truly played for the name on the front of the jersey. Some transfers may have to look down just to see what that name is.
Haith hasn’t been outstanding with the true freshman that he recruited either. From his first year Ryan Rosburg is a good garbage man but no star. Negus Webster-Chan and Domonique Bull didn’t return. Not a strong first class. From this year’s class Wes Clark and Johnathan Williams III look like they have some skills but are nowhere near elite. Torren Jones and Shane Rector have struggled to earn minutes.
It’s not necessarily records that should be alarming about Frank Haith. Overall, his first three years look very good. What’s at issue is how he will be able to build a team for success. Can he get young guys good enough to put up numbers or will he have to continue to rely on transfers who may lack desire to lay it on the line for the Alma Mater? Unless he can find players that have both…Haith only deserves one more year.
3 Up, 3 Down from Spring Training
The attitude is upbeat and confident in the clubhouse from what I witnessed this week. Players stick up for each other, they joke, they rib. Also, they do it clubhouse wide. Latin players and American born players mingle which isn’t always the case. This seems to stem from two of the team’s stars Eric Hosmer and Sal Perez who are good friends.
After years of trying to figure out who was going to be good enough to fill the final 3 or r roster spots the Royals now have to figure out which good player they have to cut. While tough to decide, this is a good problem to have as its better to have 26 or 27 good players for a 25 man roster than to only have 23.
While Omar Infante and Nori Aoki will never be confused with Jeff Kent and Vlad Guerrero they are major upgrades from years past. Gone are Frenchy and Getzy and also alleviated is the frustration they brought to Royals fans each time this year.
As stated above, the Royals offseason moves provided some good offensive help but little power. Without adding a big bat the Royals have again put their hopes on improvement from Hosmer and Moose and a bounce back season from Butler.
In the week we were here Ned had his normal testy moments. There will always be questions surrounding the manager…especially one that has been fired before. There is really only one way for Ned to answer those questions and start to eliminate them…continue to win games.
This may be more appropriately titled 2nd starter. Chen is a great 5. Guthrie and Vargas are good 3’s or 4’s. The Royals need someone to step up and be a good starter right behind Shields. We know that’s not Hocehvar or Davis. The Royals need Ventura or Duffy to win the job and break out in a major way.
For the next few weeks all eyes will be on Sochi and the XXII Winter Olympics. The Olympics are always a polarizing event. Some love the stories and watching events that aren’t on TV every week. Others dislike the unfamiliarity and the human element of judging that takes place in many events.
This year the games in Russia are being viewed with an even more scrutiny. People are waiting for every mistake to happen…every misstep…every glitch and God forbid worse. The games viewed by those who go into the week looking for the good will find it. Those who dislike the games will find much to mock. How we truly judge these games will be the reaction of the middle…a middle that I think will leave the next few weeks wondering why they decided to have the games in Sochi.
It’s not a blockbuster college hoops weekend without any marquee names playing the local 3 but still some intriguing games on tap. The best game is probably in Manhattan where the Cats host Texas. Texas is the hottest team in the league and the Wildcats need to avenge the loss in Austin. They also need to make sure they don’t start slipping into a danger zone when it comes to the NCAA tournament. Protecting home floor is key.
KU hosts West Virginia. Like Texas, the Mountaineers have been better than expected over the last few weeks. However, this game is at Allen Fieldhouse so we all know how it will turn out. Missouri travels to Ole Miss in maybe their last chance to get an impressive win. The Tigers have played well over the last 3 games with a road win at Arkansas followed by two good games where they fell short to elite teams. Without stealing one from Kentucky or Florida Missouri now has to win all or almost all of their remaining games. If they give the same effort they showed against Kentucky and Florida Missouri should win this one. Expecting that from the Tigers though is dangerous. They need to play like a desperate team.
The Chiefs don’t have a QB like Peyton Manning so many fans were likely hopeful when they saw a defense first team win the Super Bowl. Before that recipe is embraced and demanded people need to realize just how good that Seahawks defense is. They go relatively unnoticed being in the NFC and playing on the west coast, but this is one of the best defenses of all time. Replicating what they did is going to be almost as hard as getting Alex Smith to play like Peyton Manning. Omaha.
Football’s version of the Final Four takes place this weekend and it matches up what are the consensus 4 best teams in the league this season. That didn’t look like it would be the case early in the year when the 49ers were struggling, but health and an improved Colin Kaepernick has them looking like the Super Bowl contenders they were a year ago.
It’s too easy…and based on history probably foolish to take both number one seeds to reach the Super Bowl. It hasn’t happened since ’09 and before that the last time it happened was 1993. But, as evident in our program picks, I don’t always make the smartest picks. So I will take Denver and Seattle to advance.
A lot has been made of how the Broncos will get by after starting corner Chris Harris was hurt. I guess we’ve all forgotten how many the injuries the Patriots have suffered on defense and they have to contend with maybe the best offense of all time. The weather is supposed to be nice and I think the Denver weapons win out in a high scoring game. Broncos 38-Patriots 31.
The opposite is expected in Seattle where most figure these tough division rivals will beat each other up in a low scoring game. Most prognosticators are riding the wave of the 49ers momentum and are picking the upset. Too often when doing this we ignore the team that has been most consistent throughout the year because they haven’t surprised us with a turnaround. I think that’s the case here. I think Seattle has the better defense and the better running game which in a hard hitting affair should win out. Seahawks 20-49ers 16.
I’ve managed to go this far without having to mention the Missouri Tigers and their disappointing 1-2 start in SEC play. I will continue to not mention them. Instead I will make picks.
Mizzou over Alabama in a squeaker. I think Alabama will give them all they can handle but Mizzou has to come out with its back against the wall.
K State over West Virginia. Bruce Weber is 10-1 in conference play at Bramlage. It continues.
Kansas over Oklahoma State. They have a few days to prepare and 16-thousand at Allen. Conference race over.