Keep the 'Haith' UM fans

It's not as sexy as Bobby Gonzalez or appetizing as Steve Lavin or John Calipari. 'Frank who?' you say. University of Miami athletic director Paul Dee probably didn't any friends among Hurricanes' fans when he named Frank Haith the new men's basketball coach on Monday.

Rather than go for an Armani in Lavin, Calipari or Mike Jarvis, Dee settled for the shirt off the discount rack. Dee elected to go with the rookie coach in Haith instead of pulling a big fish out of the water. But although few people know who he is Haith deserves a chance to prove himself. Haith knows the Atlantic Coast Conference, is a tireless recruiter and has the respect of his working peers.

"Frank is absolutely ready for the assignment we are asking him to undertake," said Dee. "Everyone I spoke to said it was his time to step up, and I just got a gut feeling that this was someone special."

He's worth a try. Haith doesn't own the resume of Mike Krzyzewski or the threads of Rick Pitino, but it's clear he is prepared to roll up his sleeves and shovel some dirt. Never mind that he settled for UM's piggy-bank deal of five-years at $350,000 per season. Just minutes into his new job Haith was already looking ahead to selling the program on campus.

Haith is salivating over the thought of parading players around Coral Gables and covering every corner of South Florida. And that in itself would be a major improvement. Former coach Perry Clark, who lived in another county, treated the job like a 9-5 executive. Clark never went that extra mile to create any kind of following for the Hurricanes in the community.

UM got what it could afford in Haith. Although he has no head coaching experience, Haith, a former assistant coach at Wake Forest, knows what it's going to take in order to build a consistent winner. If anything he has already tasted the atmosphere he's going to try and recreate in Miami as a staffer at Texas, Texas A&M and Penn State. So, don't think he's coming in cold. The guy has a plan.

"I want people on campus and in the community to share the passion and the enthusiasm I have for this program," said Haith. "My mind was made up on this job the minute Paul (Dee) called and told me I was a candidate. This program is close. All the pieces are in place - ACC, a wonderful university, dynamic city, beautiful arena, some exciting players. We just need some nuts and bolts to put it all together."

It will take some time to get it going. Entering the ACC - a conference that netted two Final Four team this past season - with a lack of scoring punch - Guillermo Diaz and Rob Hite aside - size and point guard production isn't exactly the recipe for success. Haith will have to go out and get some big men and a quality point guard before the Canes can be considered a serious contender in the premier college basketball conference in America.

However, Haith sounds like a man ready to get the ball rolling in more ways than one. He looks forward to the recruiting trails with hopes of landing the kind of talent that has escaped from Miami's grasp in recent years. Don't believe him? Haith has scheduled a flight next week to Seattle in an effort to convince C. J. Giles that Coral Gables is the place to be.

Unlike most people in these parts, Haith is eagerly awaiting the Hurricanes venture into the ACC and the opportunity to match his expertise against that of Gary Williams, Roy Williams and Krzyzewski. And whether that's smart or not it's hard not to like the guy's enthusiasm. He promises to spread the word throughout the community and make 'Hurricanes basketball' matter like never before.

Alright, so it's difficult to feel good about a guy who doesn't have a juicy name or the experience to go with it as the Hurricanes enter the biggest stage of it's program's history. But let's remember not too many people had a clue who Leonard Hamilton was before he was brought in. All Hamilton did was put the Hurricanes on the national stage with four consecutive postseason appearances before departing. And while Clark took plenty of heat he guided the Canes to the NCAAs in just his second season at the helm.

So let's give this guy a chance. It's not like Haith has done anything not to deserve it.

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