March 27, 2011

Who-onzo Martin?

Here is the link to Andy Katz's article about why Bruce Pearl was fired from the University of Tennessee.

In the article, Katz notes "the final straw for the university came earlier this month when, a source told, the staff committed an NCAA violation on March 6 in regards to a player pass list for the home game against Kentucky. It was a procedural matter, but enough was enough apparently and that tipped the scale toward the firing of Pearl and his staff."

Today, March 27th, Tim Gardner of USA Today reported that Tennessee has hired Cuonzo Martin of Missouri State to be its next head basketball coach. Now, I don't know Cuonzo from Billy, other than the fact that he took Missouri State from 11 to 26 wins in two seasons. Is that impressive? I don't know. What I do know is this logic progression (use of the word "logic" disputable):

  1. He was hired one week after Pearl was fired.
  2. A one-week coaching search for a major university is extremely short.
  3. A one-week coaching search means one of three things:
    1. Martin is an amazing candidate that blew away the administration and should prove successful nearly immediately.
    2. The candidate search was not carried out well. This will show itself in the further lowering of a successful program that has made the NCAA tournament for each of the last six years.
    3. The university was carrying out interviews before Pearl was fired.

My guess? Perhaps because I still back Pearl and would have chosen to keep him, (assuming more damning evidence does not come out that would make keeping Pearl to seem the most asinine option), C. This is a further back-stab of a coach who was suspended, fined, banned from recruiting, and whose contract was terminated yet still chose to stay and coach said university. If Hamilton was indeed interviewing candidates behind Pearl's back, this sheds further light on an Athletic Director who stated that Pearl's job was still under consideration one day before the team was due to play Michigan in a first-round tournament game, fracturing the fan base and distracting the team to the tune of a 30-point defeat. Hamilton has made a mockery of his position, and I have made no secret of the fact that as an alumnus of the University of Tennessee I am upset with the direction Hamilton has taken. Perhaps Martin will turn out to be a terrific fit with the team and is able to keep players such as Kevin Ware, who said "As long as they hire a good coach I can trust, I'll want to be at Tennessee." Ware had previous sent a letter to the NCAA requesting to be let out of his letter-of-intent after Pearl's firing. Did Hamilton make the right choice? We won't know for years. What do you think?

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