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Cuonzo Marting Leaving Tennessee For Cal

Tennessee is looking for a new basketball coach.  Cuonzo Martin is leaving the Vols to replace Mike Montgomery as the head coach at California.

Martin has coached Tennessee the past three seasons. After leading the Vols to the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament, Martin was rumored to in the running for the job at Marquette.   When that failed to materialize, it appeared Martin would stay but that all changed this morning when he told A.D. Dave Hart he was involved in the Cal search. Hart says Tennessee offered Martin”close to a half-million dollar raise.”

An official announcement is expected later today at Cal.  Cal A.D. Sandy Barbour posted this picture taken with Martin to her Twitter account.

 

Martin complied a 63-41 record in three seasons at Tennessee.

Pat Forde: Absolutely nothing is rock solid on Rocky Top these days. It is high time for a reality check.

Dana O’Neil:  Cuonzo Martin, the man they treated like a bad case of the flu for three years, essentially put his thumb to his nose, wiggled his fingers and said, “Stuff it.”

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A Waterfall In Bama’s Locker Room? Maybe We’re Spending A Bit Too Much On Athletics

gfx - honest opinionLast week, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that the University of Tennessee is hoping to soon tear down the old Stokely Athletic Center to make way for more football practice fields.  According to athletic director Dave Hart, an artist’s renderings of the cleared space reveals “three full practice fields.”  Combine that with UT’s indoor facility and that’s at least four full practice fields for one team.

Will the school keep building until coaches can tell recruits they’ll all get their very own personal practice fields if they sign with the Vols?

Yesterday, Al.com reported that Alabama’s splashy — literally — new locker room will include an actual waterfall.  The water will “flow from a few feet above the hot and cold tubs, which are located near the showers on the new area’s first floor.”

Hey, there’s an arms race in college football — especially among rich athletic departments, like those in the SEC — but at what point has it all gone just a bit too far?  (This video shows that at Kentucky, the facility war crosses over to basketball, too.)

Whether it’s massive meeting rooms, statues, waterfalls, umpteen practice fields or solid gold bidets (just a matter of time), the money being spent on extras in these recruiting wars is ridiculous.

I remember visiting the Vatican some years back.  As I toured St. Peter’s Basilica I was truly moved by the grandeur and majesty — and not to mention the history — of the building.  All of the gold, alabaster and marble created a sense of awe.

But as I walked past treasure after masterwork after treasure I also thought, couldn’t some of this opulence have been snipped to feed the hungry and clothe the poor?

That’s not to pick on the Catholic church.  There are churches and mosques around the globe that are eye-wateringly splendid.  All — one would hope — donate tremendous wealth to the needy.

That said, where do we draw our lines between just right and excess?

When it comes to waterfalls and multiple practice fields, at what point should an athletic department cut back and say, “You know, this money could be better spent elsewhere.”

I don’t live like a monk myself so I’m not suggesting that every dime that everyone makes should be given to the destitute.  But when I see over-spending, I do wonder what else that money could have been used for — a better library on campus?  A few more professors?  Better facilities for some of the non-revenue sports, whose athletes work just as hard as those in the revenue sports?

Again, I’m not saying anyone’s wrong here.  I’m just asking the question: How many practice fields and waterfalls do athletic departments really need?

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SEC Headlines 6/2/2013

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. Arkansas A.D. Jeff Long is not happy with Ohio State president Gordon Gee and his comments regarding Arkansas coach Bret Bielema during his time at Wisconsin.  ”I am deeply troubled by the unfounded and slanderous remarks…”

2. Expect a rematch in Atlanta between Alabama and Georgia if the SEC’s 14 football information directors are right.

3. The SEC’s 2014 schedule expected to be released in the next few weeks: “And no one will be paying closer attention than the league coaches.”

4. Kevin Scarbinsky on Auburn: How long before the Iron Bowl is a game again?

5. Father of Kentucky twins Daron and Zack Blaylock, Mookie Blaylock , upgraded to “serious condition” on Saturday.

6. Stadium capacity at Missouri will be temporarily reduced by about 3,000 due to construction.

SEC/College Basketball

7. Tennesssee A.D. Dave Hart on whether there’s been any contract extension or renegotiation talk regarding coach Cuonzo Martin: “When we think we’re at a point where we have something to say about any of that, we’ll do so at the appropriate time.”

8. Making the case for 13 positions in basketball.

9. “The most significant college basketball program” – UCLA 1964 to 1975.

Extra

10. Bernando LaPallo has a new book coming out on his 112th birthday.

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Wow Headlines 5/17/2013

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin opposes potential move to nine-game schedule..
…”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Tennessee A.D. Dave Hart on coach Butch Jones:  ”I think he’s off to a very, very good start in terms of galvanizing our fan base.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban on preparing for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: ”I think that’s an ongoing process around here.”
Saban has recruited or coached 111 NFL players, 33 of them at Alabama
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on the status of expansion: “Dead is a strong word”
Thanks to U.S. Open tennis shifting to ESPN, possible to see more early SEC games on CBS starting in 2015
Follow SEC news year-round at MrSEC.com and on Twitter at Twitter.com/mrsec

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Alabama A.D. Moore To Step Down

mrsec-breaking-newsJust a week after being hospitalized with heart issues, Alabama athletic director Mal Moore has decided to leave his current post immediately.  The 73-year-old Moore has been the head of the Crimson Tide athletic department since 1999.

In a statement released this afternoon Moore said: “Due to factors related to my health, I am at a point I can no longer fulfill my duties as athletics director.”

Moore will take on the role of “special assistant” to UA president Judy Bonner.  Speculation over who will replace Moore in the athletic director’s chair will now commence.

From 2008 through September of 2011, Alabama grad Dave Hart served as the “executive director of athletics” alongside Moore.  From 2009 through his departure he was actually in charge of day-to-day operations of the UA athletic department while Moore turned his attention to fundraising.  Hart left Alabama to become the AD at Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee in 2011.

 

UPDATE — We have been contacted by the University of Alabama and asked to change the initial wording of our story.  We wrote that “Mal Moore has decided to resign from his current post immediately.”  Then we wrote that will he take on a new role of “special assistant” to UA’s president (which is unchanged).  Apparently saying he resigned one spot to take another was too much for Bama officials to bear — hey, a pun — so we’ve changed it.  Now we say he’s decided to “leave” his current post immediately.  Either way, health issues have forced Moore to step down from the top of the Alabama athletic department and take on a new advisory role with the school.

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Strong Still Mulling UT, Louisville Offers… Or Is He?

According to VolQuest.com — the Rivals site covering Tennessee — UT athletic director Dave Hart flew to Louisville to meet with Charlie Strong, but he did not return to Knoxville with him.

Meanwhile, WKRN-TV in Nashville is reporting that Hart flew to Louisville to pick Strong up and bring him back as the Vols’ new coach.

Finally, long time Louisville sports media member Eric Crawford tweeted the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Jimmy Hyams of WNML-AM/FM in Knoxville reports that two sources have told him Strong has turned down the Tennessee job:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got all that?

UPDATE: Citing a Louisville source, Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel says Strong has turned down Vols contract offer.

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Louisville’s Strong Weighing Offers From UT, Louisville

And the beat goes on…

The final coaching search in the SEC rolls on and the rumor/panic meter is pegging in the red.  Which is also where the winner of the Charlie Strong sweepstakes might wind up running financially.

The silence that’s been coming from Louisville this afternoon has left both Tennessee and Louisville fans to wonder where Strong will be coaching next season.  Whatever choice he makes, the man who won the Big East Conference in the third-year of his Louisville rebuilding project will have a much, much heftier salary coming his way.  The two schools are reportedly duking it out with dollar signs for Strong.  The coach made $2.3 million last season.  Expect that number to be well over $3 million next year.

A Cardinals team meeting was initially scheduled for 3:45pm ET today to discuss the team’s Sugar Bowl travel/practice plans.  Now that meeting has reportedly been pushed back 45 minutes.

Twitter is bursting with news of planes leaving Knoxville for Louisville, but that’s about as trustworthy as… well… as anyone else during these coaching searches.  (And, yes, we include ourselves in that knock.)

If Tennessee does land Strong, expect many people to state that the Vols overpaid for a coach with just three years experience (though many people ribbed UT for underpaying for a coach with just three years experience the last time around).

If UT athletic director Dave Hart doesn’t land Strong, then people across the Volunteer State will really be breaking out the disaster plans.

They shouldn’t.

As we wrote this morning, Tennessee is no longer competing with Arkansas and Auburn for a coach.  Those schools picked men who were not even believed to be on the Volunteers’ list.  And Kentucky had already tabbed a coordinator for its job a week ago.

That means for any head coach wanting to land a job in the top football conference in America and make a truckload of cash in the process, the UT job is the only one available.  So why the panic?

Hart initially said he’d make a hire by mid-December.  According to my calendar it’s just now December 5th.  In terms of Arkansas’ search, we understood fan frustrations because the Razorback job had been open since April.  That’s a lot of waiting, wishing, mulling, worrying, and hoping.

But Tennessee fans should be asking their AD to slow down and take another lap around the country.  The pressure’s off and the Vols need a good hire.  Why run a two-minute drill when it’s not necessary?  To save a recruiting class?  The last time the Vols did that they saved said class by hiring Derek Dooley.

Then again, maybe this all part of the smokescreen for you know who. (Language NSFW, but a funny video just the same.)

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Report: Gundy Offered UT Job

Earlier this morning we reported that sources close to Tennessee’s search and inside the college athletics industry have told us that Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy is still very much in play for the Vols’ job.  Moments ago, CBS’ Bruce Feldman tweeted the following:

 

 

 

 

 

Does that mean Gundy will accept the offer to coach in Knoxville and leave his alma mater?  No.  But it certainly lends more credence to the belief that Gundy is still option 1A while Louisville’s Charlie Strong is option 1B for UT athletic director Dave Hart.

And if Gundy does not take the UT job and instead stays in Stillwater with a raise and more power, expect Tennessee officials to say no offer was ever made.

 

UPDATE – While Feldman is reporting that Gundy has an offer from Tennessee and that friction between he and his boss are to blame (more on the “friction” here), a reporter for The Oklahoman newspaper is reporting that OSU’s sideline reporter — ya following all this? — has said on the radio that “Mike Gundy is staying at Oklahoma State… He has made a decision.”

Round and round she goes.  Buckle in for another day of Twitter hype.  At least now there’s just one SEC search for folks to discuss.

UPDATE II: Sources telling ESPN that Gundy is staying at Oklahoma State. 

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Jimbo Fisher: “I Have Not Spoken With Dave Hart”

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was asked today about rumors linking him with the job at Tennessee.

“I have not spoken with (Tennessee A.D.) Dave Hart.” Fisher told the Jacksonville Times-Union. “I’m focusing on a football game.” The coach added ”It’s the nature of the business … I understand it.”

Fisher is in Charlotte where the Seminoles play Georgia Tech Saturday in the ACC Championship game.

 

 

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SEC Coaching Carousel Update – 11/29/12

Ah, what a wacky day in the world of SEC coaching searches.  Want a quick catch-me-up?  Here ya go…

 

Louisville coach Charlie Strong interviewed for the Auburn job.  Well, at least AL.com says that he talked to someone representing Auburn.  And maybe they talked by phone.

Of course, Strong denied talking to Auburn at all.  According to SI.com’s Pete Thamel: “He’s angry.”  Strong claimed, “It’s not true.  I didn’t interview with Auburn, I have a job.”

Meanwhile, Bobby Petrino — as we suggested would happen yesterday — is “emerging for the Auburn coaching vacancy,” according to a CBSSports.com source.  If the Tigers pick Petrino because an NCAA investigation and other issues make their sales pitch to employed, non-desperate candidates tougher… then AU will have likely landed the best on-field coach available by default(Many Tiger fans don’t see it that way.)

 

At Tennessee, ESPN’s Jon Gruden had to start his Wednesday by saying he’d not been offered a stake in the Cleveland Browns as part of a lure to land in Knoxville.  By day’s end, he’d canceled an interview with UT athletic director Dave Hart.  Whether the parties will reschedule is up for debate but we’d heard early on that the ex-NFL coach wasn’t thrilled with the idea of being part of a search and would have preferred to be coronated instead.

Ah, but if the Vols can’t get Gruden there’s always Miami’s Al Golden.  Hurricane superfan Luther Campbell — the former 2 Live Crew rap star — tweeted yesterday “Golden to UT.”  But Miami AD Blake James said last night, “I’m confident he’ll be with us next year.” 

 

At Arkansas, the Hogs have already made one coach some extra cash this offseason — LSU’s Les Miles.  Miles is getting a contract extension and pay raise in Baton Rouge just one day after reports claimed he’d been offered a huge sum by Arkansas.  Miles said the huge sum part was bogus, but he did admit to talking with his old friend, Hogs AD Jeff Long.  He said he even offered up some names for the Razorbacks.

LSU AD Joe Alleva said that it had “been my plan all along to give Coach a raise and an extension, and that’s what we’re doing.”  Uh-huh.  Funny that he gave him said bump following a 10-2 season (and immediately after the call from Long) rather than, say, after last year’s 13-1 SEC championship campaign.  Well played, Les.

(On a sidenote, Miles met with the media and pushed Tiger defensive coordinator John Chavis for the Tennessee vacancy.  Though Chavis is a UT alum, the Vols’ AD has said he wants someone with head coaching experience.)

 

Got all that?

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