April 1st, 2014 10:45 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Tennessee
Tags: Boston College, Buzz Williams, MU, NCAA, UT
On Sunday it appeared as though Cuonzo Martin would be leaving Tennessee for Marquette. On Monday it appeared that the only delay was a clause in Martin’s contract that would see his buyout for leaving drop by $1.3 million at midnight this morning. Right after midnight this morning… that all went out the window.
Martin is staying at Tennessee. For now. Might he still wind somewhere else? Wake Forest is reportedly closing in on Tulsa’s Danny Manning, but there is reportedly some interest in Martin as well. The Boston College job remains open (despite an earlier version of this piece tying Jay Wright to BC… as we forgot it was April F’n Fools Day).
Either way, how the Martin situation went from sure departure to sorta/kinda staying is the topic of the day in hoops circles. We believe there are a few possibilities:
1. Marquette decided to go in another direction. That one’s doubtful because everyone — and we’re talking everyone — said the MU job was Martin’s to take. From ESPN to sources on the ground inside the University of Tennessee athletic department, a Martin/Marquette marriage was in the cards. So yes, this has all the hallmarks of a face-saving move by the coach, but we’re told that’s most definitely not the deal.
2. Tennessee ponied up a nice raise and extension. It doesn’t sound like that’s the case, either. Martin and athletic director Dave Hart met twice on Monday. It has been reported/rumored that UT didn’t offer Martin much of anything to stay. A very vocal chunk of the Vol fanbase wants Martin and his 19+ wins per year gone. If he returns to Knoxville we’ll someday know what he received, if anything, for doing so, but for now it doesn’t appear that Hart wooed him back with cash.
3. Martin got cold feet after examining Marquette and talking to others. This one seems a bit more likely. Marquette has a new president. They have an interim AD. There’s turmoil and flux in MU’s administration. And Martin has been through enough of that at Tennessee. He took the Knoxville gig not knowing if the school would be crushed with NCAA sanctions. Then the man who hired him was fired and he wound up working for Hart who allowed him to twist in the wind all season. It’s typical in these situations for a potential coach to call a school’s ex-coach for some reconnaissance. Buzz Williams left Marquette for Virginia Tech. That’s telling. So it’s very much possible that Martin might’ve been scared away from the Marquette gig by Williams himself. Don’t sleep on this possibility.
4. Martin wanted to stick around for the kids he recruited. Yes, by all accounts Martin is a good guy, a stand-up guy. But coaches move. It’s part of the business. Martin left players and recruits at Missouri State when he took the Tennessee job. While we have no doubt he loves his players and vice versa, we think it’s doubtful that Martin would stay in what’s becoming a pretty nasty situation just out of loyalty to his players.
Whatever the reason for Martin’s decision to stay, Tennessee once again finds itself in the middle of a soap opera. The Volunteer fanbase has been dealing with one issue after another since the end of the Phillip Fulmer era. Losing seasons. Coaching turnover. NCAA issues.
All that together has helped to split the fanbase into factions and those factions are only going to get louder next season if Martin is still in Knoxville. The pro-Martin crowd will defend the coach saying he deserves better treatment than he’s received. The anti-Martin crowd will scream, “I told you so” with every missed free throw.
Since launching this site in 2008, Tennessee has given us more chaos to cover than any other school in the SEC. Martin is UT’s sixth football or basketball coach in that short span alone. So it’s no wonder we look at this situation and say, “Only at Tennessee.” Where else would there be so much debate over a coach whose win total has increased every year and who just took his team to within two points of the Elite Eight?
Like sands through the hourglass…
|Post Comments »||Comments (23)|