Whatever goodwill Missouri coach Frank Haith built among Tigers fans during his first four months on the job appears to have disappeared as a result of the allegations made against him earlier this week by a Miami booster.
In the wake of a Yahoo! Sports investigation that alleged Haith was aware of a $10,000 payment made to Miami recruit DeQuan Jones in 2008, the Kansas City Star conducted a poll asking Missouri fans what should happen to their coach. A whopping 78 percent of the 1,450 people who responded as of Friday advocated that Haith should be fired before he coaches his first game at Missouri.
The results of the poll aren't shocking since many Missouri fans questioned the hire of Haith when it was made, but it's still a sign of the unusual amount of pressure he's facing entering his first season on the job.
Missouri fans already had reason to question Haith's track record on the court since he made only one NCAA tournament appearance in six seasons at Miami and amassed an uninspiring 43-69 record in the ACC. Now they have reason to doubt his character despite his terse denials that he was aware of any payment to Jones.
The most damaging aspect of Haith's lack of popularity is it's a weapon other coaches will use against him on the recruiting trail. Missouri will have up to eight vacant scholarships to fill in the Class of 2012, a daunting task since other coaches will no doubt be whispering in recruits' ears that Haith may not keep his job much longer.
It's highly unlikely that Missouri athletic director Mike Alden would fire Haith without conducting an internal investigation and waiting for the NCAA's findings, but the risk in standing by the first-year coach remains high. If more allegations emerge or the NCAA can corroborate that Jones received $10,000 and Haith was aware of it, it could be enough to warrant a lengthy suspension or even a show cause penalty that would leave Missouri no choice but to find a new coach.