A little after 1 p.m. today, ESPN broke the news that former Tennessee basketball head coach Cuonzo Martin agreed to take the coaching job at California.
This came as a huge shock to Tennessee fans considering that on April 1, Martin turned down the Marquette job and said in a statement, “Tennessee is where I want to be, that has never changed.” Instead, Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart joined the masses of blindsided fans when Martin was announced as Cal’s newest men’s basketball coach.
“I did not know Cuonzo Martin was involved with the California job until this morning,” Hart said. “We offered him close to a half a million-dollar raise and 2-year extension, which would total to $1.8 million with a 2-year extension for next year.”
Martin’s leaving of Tennessee was obviously not driven by dollars. Jarnell Stokes’ declaration for the NBA draft last week possibly had a big part in his decision to leave for Cal. Tennessee was losing four out of it’s five starters from last year and was certainly not going to be better than they were this year. With a petition trying to remove Martin from his position already in circulation from last year, it may of been time for Martin to move on.
Tennessee players took to Twitter to voice their opinions on the matter. Forward Jordan McRae tweeted, “Can’t treat people any kind of way and expect good in return.” Obviously speaking on fans’ conduct towards Coach Martin. Returning Sophomore shooting guard Josh Richardson tweeted, “Best of luck to coach at Cal. Did what he had to do.” Richardson is the only starter returning from last year’s squad.
Vol fans’ views on Martin are still very mixed and some are still wiping away the tears from when Bruce Pearl announced he was going to Auburn. Regardless, Martin is gone and Tennessee will begin their nationwide search for a new head coach.
“I think this is an extremely attractive job, we have history, tradition, and one of the finest venues in the country for watching college basketball.” Dave Hart said. While he obviously did not have a front-runner in mind yet, Hart did say what kind of coach the University would be looking for.
Some of the criteria Hart said he would use in evaluating potential candidates will be their track record, recruiting ability, energy and enthusiasm, knowledge of the game, ability to attract a high quality staff and ultimately would be a good fit at the University of Tennessee.
Edited by Zach Dennis