From the time I was old enough to understand the concept of loving a sports team, I remember my father yelling at the radio from our southern Missouri home as Missouri would beat Nebraska ... then lose to the doormat of the conference in football. I followed in his footsteps and attended college to watch us defeat Oklahoma 10-0 in football at Faurot, then flounder for more than a decade.
But in the years that followed, there was Doug Smith, Anthony Peeler, Nathan Buntin and many others to take away the pain. Oh, the days of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma switching places atop the Associated Press poll as No. 1 in the entire country in basketball. Yet, we floundered again in the Big Dance. The '90s even produced a team that was 4.8 seconds from a Final Four trip — damn Tyus Edney.
We are a rabid bunch, waiting for that moment when the East and West Coast media finally understands that Mizzou is a force to be respected, a place where recruits want to be and coaches aspire to retire. It has been frustrating to be a Mizzou fan because of this aspiration for greatness, and our frustration spills over into every hiring and firing of our coaches.
I have no inside information or sports acumen to fluff the credibility of this opinion, but the negative comments that have flooded the blogs and sports websites about Frank Haith are simply a result of Mizzou Nation being tired of being on the cusp of greatness and the fear of falling back into mediocrity. We all fear the unknown, but, candidly, Matt Painter was never going anywhere, and Shaka Smart has been at VCU two years and didn't even assemble the team to watch Selection Sunday because he was waiting for an NIT bid. VCU had a good run, but that doesn't make Shaka a good long-term gamble.
What astounds me is that the Miami media say that despite the departure, most have tremendous respect for Haith as a man of integrity. (Remember, we are talking about Miami here.) We welcomed coach Mike Anderson for the same reason after the Quin Snyder era, and, candidly, his first few years did not have a lot of support. He built a program of integrity and was successful, which is why I believe Mike Alden made the decision to hire Frank Haith.
I know that losing Anderson hurt, but give Haith the support you gave Anderson in his later years, and I believe Mizzou basketball will not stumble. Miami was one of the worst Division I basketball coaching jobs in the country because Miami is all about football. Even Mike Krzyzewski at Duke has complimented Haith on the job he did with his teams.
Gary Pinkel took us to new heights in football. Anderson got us to the cusp again. Let's have some faith in Haith.
David Akers is an MU graduate who now lives in Branson. He earned his marketing degree from MU in 1987 and his law degree in 1990.