COLUMBIA, MO - FEBRUARY 21: Head coach Frank Haith of the Missouri Tigers meets with players on the bench during a timeout in the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on February 21, 2012 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Frank Haith was thrust in a very hard position when he was hired this summer as Missouri's basketball coach, but he came out on top as the Big 12 coach of the year. How would Mike Anderson have done with this team?
I've had a lot of people ask me if I think that the Tigers would be having as much success this season if Mike Anderson was still the head coach.
That's one of the easiest questions I get to answer.
Frank Haith doesn't get as much press because of an unusual style of play with its own special name like Anderson did. He never even had any real success as a head coach before coming to Missouri. He probably doesn't have as many relatives who are basketball players as Anderson does, either.
This lack of flamboyance and history of success didn't stop Haith from earning the Associated Press' Big 12 coach of the year Monday, one day after he was snubbed of the official award from the Big 12 Conference.
The award was given to Haith because of his team's unexpected success this year with only 7 scholarship players, but his best coaching job probably came before the season in keeping this team together and reuniting them, forming one of the most cohesive units in the nation.
This is what Haith has done that Anderson could not.
Coaching at the college level is about leadership and getting a group of 18- to 22- year olds to buy what you are selling.
Each of the last three years that Anderson was in Columbia, he was rumored to be interested in taking a job somewhere else. Since taking the job, Haith has preached allegiance to the University of Missouri and proved that he is a man of his word with the way he has represented the school.
Haith has become an expert at getting his players to trust him, as proven by his players singing his praises all season long. That, along with a system that helps accentuate the natural strengths of his players, has resulted in one of the best regular seasons in Missouri basketball history.
If Anderson were still at Missouri, how would the 2011-2012 season been different?
That would have left the Tigers with 8 scholarship players (add Ricky Kreklow and Kadeem Green back). Anderson was reportedly close to getting Otto Porter, now a freshman at Georgetown, to commit to be a Tiger, but who knows what would have happened there?
The big issue that would have still been unresolved was the continued lack of trust on the team that was revealed after Anderson left.
After flirting with Arkansas about leaving to be the head coach there, how could Anderson have earned any of the little trust he had back from his players?
It was obvious that players like Marcus Denmon and Steve Moore were not thriving in the "Fastest 40 Minutes" system, but there is no way Anderson was going to stray away from that style. Last year's downward spiral probably just would have continued.
It's hard to say exactly how much worse this team would have been with Anderson still at the helm, but it is very clear that the Tigers would not have been this good with the same kind of situation as last season.
The Missouri basketball fanbase felt robbed when Anderson left out the back door in March 2011, but in reality, that was the best thing that could have happened to the program.
The Tigers got rid of a floundering head coach who didn't want to be in Missouri and got their under-the-radar guy who has had to earn his praise the hard way.
He's done it and left a lasting impact on the most successful senior class in school history.
Kim English said it best after his team's senior night win against Iowa State: "Frank Haith is the best coach I've had in my four years at Missouri."