September 22, 2011

Haith one-on-one

Nothing has been exactly smooth for Frank Haith in his first few months at Missouri. From fan outrage following his hiring to NCAA allegations over the past few weeks, Haith has been at the center of some storms already. The Tiger coach took some time on Thursday morning to talk with about what has happened and how he is now moving forward.

Here is the entire transcript of our interview with Haith. How tough have the last six weeks or so been on you personally and professionally?

Frank Haith: "Obviously, Gabe, it's been a tough ride. I would not be truthful if I didn't tell you it has been a tough ride. I think that the first week was really, really tough on me and my family in terms of just the allegations and what not. You know, we're in a different town and no one really knows us and my kids started school next day. That was very, very difficult. After that first week, and I'm a God-fearing man, so I just relied on my faith. Obviously, I've had a muzzle so to speak on my mouth, where I couldn't speak and plead my innocence about the situation or really go after it. That made it tough. At times you've just got to stand still and that's what we had to do for a little bit and obviously now I've been instructed I can talk a little bit. Not specifics about the case, but we're moving ahead. We're recruiting, we're coaching and we're doing what we've been paid to do." You said you feel like you've had the muzzle taken off a little bit. One concern I've heard from a lot of fans is the lack of any sort of a public statement of support from your bosses. Behind closed doors, they may very well have told you that, but the lack of a public statement, is that something that bothers you or something you think needs to happen?

Haith: "All I can say is Dr. Deaton and Steve Owens and Mike Alden have been supportive of me. I can only do my job right now and I feel confident that they've been fair to me and they have been supportive." The last time we talked, you hadn't had a lot of chance to interact with your team. How has that process gone and how well do you feel like you know the kids at this point?

Haith: "I can't tell you how excited I am about the group of guys we have here at Missouri. I mean, they've worked their tails off, they're good kids. It's been exciting to me to go to workouts every day with them when we have those workouts. They've been like sponges, they want to learn and they've been just great. We're going to have a good team. We're going to have a great year. Lord willing, we stay healthy, this team has a chance to be special." I know you've had a chance to get out to some booster club functions here recently. You were pretty up front at your opening press conference about knowing what the initial reaction was. In the last few weeks, what has the reception from the fans been like?

Haith: "The fans have been great. I had an opportunity to go to a couple tailgates this past weekend at football games and ride around in a golf cart. I've heard ntohing but positives. The one thing, Gabe, I will tell you, I was so worried about is my family and my kids. Their well being and starting school in a new place. It's been great for them. The community has embraced my family and I feel very blessed for that. I feel honored to be in a community like Columbia where the people have been just so gracious to us." Coach Pinkel was pretty outspoken yesterday about this whole conference situation. Obviously you didn't deal with it last year and I know you're not directly involved in it, but how much do you hear, how much do you pay attention and is it something that distracts anybody from being able to do their jobs?

Haith: "I will tell you it has come up in recruiting, but the one thing I focus on when we talk to kids at home, the Mizzou brand is such a big time brand, we're going to be fine. I believe that. If there was a chance of us not being in the Big 12, we're going to land in a power conference, a BCS conference, I believe that. I'm hopeful and praying that the Big 12 does stay together. I think that's what we all would like to see. We see this conference stay together. When I was back at Texas and Texas A&M, this is a great league, a great basketball league, such great potential. We have outstanding coaches in this league. I would love to see this league. I think it all will shake down here and we'll know a lot more by the end of this week."

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