Panic hasn't set in for most Mizzou basketball fans yet, which is good. What they don't know right now won't hurt.
The truth? No one saw the Frank Haith departure coming, and if they say they did, they're full of it. Outside of his team losing its identity and having a total leadership and communications breakdown this year, Haith was performing all of his job functions at a satisfactory level, right?
Well, on paper he might have looked at least acceptable. But unfortunately for Mizzou, the complete identity of not just the team but also the entire program went out the window this year. No one played defense, no one was a dependable three-point threat, no one was leading by a positive example when things were down...it was a complete meltdown.
Rather than try again at piecing together a team made up of junior-college transfers, Haith did Mizzou a favor and just got out. The pressure from the University's very vocal alumni base proved to be a little too much for him when the chips were down.
So now a threshold has been crossed with relation to the fans; there have been three coaches in a row who have come in from outside the program since the departure of Norm Stewart, and they've all left a bitter taste in fans' mouths.
Quin Snyder came in as the complete golden boy of college basketball hires. His resume as a player and assistant coach at Duke instantly commanded respect among Tiger fans. After a modest seven-year run that introduced the team to scandal, fans were glad to see the hollow-eyed coach gone.
Mike Anderson was at the top of the Tigers' list before it was announced that Snyder was out. There were other names in the fold at the time, including Greg McDermott, Dana Altman and even Rick Majerus among others, but ultimately Mizzou got its man. Anderson's shtick of "40 Minutes of Hell" really intrigued fans, and his brand of basketball succeeded.
Anderson's departure from Columbia was supposed to be unexpected, but all the warning signs were there. His love for Arkansas was absolutely no secret. His loyalty, like Snyder's, was never going to be with Mizzou.
Then came the hire of Haith to replace Anderson, which was baffling to say the least. He had no ties to the University, a shaky track record at an unimpressive basketball school in Miami and was knee-deep in scandal with donors that was yet-to-be uncovered.
After one year, the chant at games was "Faith in Haith." But his willingness to bolt after only three seasons has shown that coaches in the industry don't value the Missouri job as much as fans believe they should.
It's either a great stepping stone or a barometer to help them into another gig.
What the Tigers are in desperate need of is the aforementioned identity, and the whole "new face" idea has officially lost steam.
Hiring a former player would be an instant hit. At the top, without question, is former player and assistant coach Kim Anderson. Anderson is already someone most alumni are familiar with and someone who is deeply rooted in the tradition of the program.
Jon Sundvold, a former player and current television color analyst is a household name among Tiger fans. His relevant insight and intelligent nature would make him a great coach. He would also bring a Stewart-like presence to practices.
Other former players like Anthony Peeler, Derrick Chievous and even fan favorite Kim English could make a positive impact right off the bat. Confidence and stability is the biggest thing missing from the program, and if keeping prized recruit JaKeenan Gant is important to Mizzou, stability needs to be addressed.
Bringing in the Matt Painters or Frank Martins of the world might be another great "logical" hire, but how much loyalty is associated with a coach like that? Normally, loyalty wouldn't be such a huge quality you're looking for in your next coach, but Missouri isn't your normal job.
No, what Mizzou needs is a slice of familiarity. Giving the Tigers that initial comfort will ease things, even if the hire goes bad in the first year or two. In the worst-case scenario, it keeps fans reasonably happy and allows Mizzou athletic director Mike Alden some time to put together a power-hire. Will it happen? Time will tell.
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