Tennessee names Cuonzo Martin head basketball coach; it’s a slam dunk hire despite attracting immediate ire of Vol fans

I’m often asked why I started Midwest Sports Fans a little over three years ago, and why I spend so much time creating content for it and trying to grow it today.

There are a number of answers that would be partially right, but none would be more right than this: I started MSF so that when I feel passionately about something in the sports world, I have a forum where I can express it and promote it and know that at least a few people will read it.

Well tonight is one of those nights where I feel pretty strongly about something, and although I’m sure there are other, perhaps better ways I could spend a Sunday evening, I’m going to spend mine angrily pounding the keys of my laptop to defend a man whose alma mater is my sworn enemy.

Tonight, the Tennessee Volunteers announced the hiring of Cuonzo Martin (Purdue, ’95) as their new head coach. He will replace the disgraced Bruce Pearl, who did a tremendous job in building the Vols’ program but who could not stay in the line with NCAA rules.

It is a brilliant, inspired, forward-thinking hire by Tennessee.

Cuonzo Martin will succeed. He succeeds at everything he does, everywhere he goes. He’s a winner. And not in the cliched Charlie Sheen way that we now throw that term around. Cuonzo Martin is a winner in the truest sense of the word.

And now he’s going to a fan base that apparently doesn’t want him – just read the comments here. That’s a damn shame.

First things first. Everyone reading this needs to understand something, and it is not insignificant: I am a dyed-in-the-wool Indiana fan and IU grad who would usually rather be waterboarded than give credit or praise to anything having to do with Purdue. I’ve come around to respecting Purdue a bit more recently, but my track record of gold and black venom speaks for itself.

Yet, in my 20+ years as a focused, attentive, knowledgeable, passionate fan of Big 10 basketball, there are very few players I have ever respected more than Cuonzo Martin.

cuonzo martin tennessee‘Zo started out at Purdue as a freshman playing alongside Glenn Robinson during the 1991-92 season. He averaged 5.8 points per game in 20.8 minutes and was 0-1 from downtown. As a sophomore, Martin played 33 minutes per game and upped his points per page to 11.9 but still went 0% from downtown (0-6).

But as a junior and a senior, called on to fill the void left by the Big Dog, Cuonzo Martin stepped up and became one the best, most versatile, most clutch players in the Big Ten over those two years. He scored 16. 3 points as a junior, 18.4 points as a senior, and made a combined 179 of 390 3-point attempts, or 45.9%.

Update: thanks to @jerees for straightening me out. I was a season ticket holder then, I should have remembered!

Cuonzo’s freshman year, Glenn Robinson was academically ineligible. Thus, Martin played with the Big Dog his sophomore and junior year, and then took over as a senior.

And he did all of this on bad knees and in the most demanding (at the time) conference in America. Hmm, I wonder if that kind of experience might be invaluable for a coach in relating to players as they go through their 3-4 years of college development. From afterthought to Big Ten MVP; seems like Cuonzo can pretty much relate to everyone on the roster.

That’s just a small tip in the impressive iceberg that is the Cuonzo Martin story. But I’ll pause now to relay a few tweets from Clay Travis, who follows Tennessee sports as closely as anyone I’m aware of, and whose opinion I usually respect. Tonight? Not so much.

So Tennessee fired Bruce Pearl to hire Cuonzo Martin. That really happened. Biggest downgrade in college hiring since? Send nominations.

Pearl’s son. Seconded RT @SPearl22: All I can do is laugh and say good luck sir

Both of these tweets came within an hour of the Martin hire being announced. The second one is Travis retweeting Bruce Pearl’s son, and I think we can all understand why Pearl’s son would feel like criticizing the hire.

But from Travis, who I’ve always found to be rational, reasonable, and well-informed, I expected a little more than the shock-jock, knee-jerk, myopic reaction that he’s provided tonight. Let those ignorant tweets simmer as we get back to talking about ‘Zo, the real star of the show in this post.

This is not my first time blogging about Cuonzo Martin. I wrote about him in December of 2009. Here is the 4th paragraph of said article:

Cuonzo Martin is now in his second season as the head coach of the Missouri State Bears and already has them undefeated and ranked in the top 25.

For longtime Big Ten basketball fans, this really should not be a surprise.

The purpose of my article, however, was not to laud Martin for how good of a job he’d done in a short time as Missouri State’s head coach. It also wasn’t to laud him for his impressive college career. The purpose was to echo the sentiments of an article by Kansas City Star writer Sam Mellinger, who penned a terrific profile of Martin’s tough upbringing on St. Louis’ east side as well as his debilitating and near-fatal fight with cancer.

Unfortunately, newspapers don’t know their elbows from their assholes when it comes to the Internet, so the link to the article is no longer live; but here is what I excerpted from it, which will give you at least a flavor of the Martin story:

Cuonzo Martin bites a whistle in his mouth and holds a yellow apple in his hand as he stares down the opportunity of his professional life, right here in front of him. He is pacing, stalking, his feet never sticking to the hardwood basketball court at Missouri State more than a half-second or so.

He shouldn’t be here. Not statistically, not medically, and not realistically. Guys who see what he’s seen and lived what he’s lived just don’t become head coach of one of biggest surprise teams in Division I basketball.

But here he is anyway, spreading his personal gospel of motion offense and nasty defense and especially about being tough. That last point is a way of life for Martin. His Bears, 9-0 and No. 23 in the RPI, are catching on quicker than anybody expected.

“I’m from East St. Louis,” he says. “We scratch. We fight. We make it work.”

…..

Cuonzo Martin doesn’t like to say too much about the things he saw as a kid. Through conversations with family and friends, the sad cliché of growing up in the projects emerges. Gangs. Drugs. Prostitution. Guns.

“We did some things that other people probably got in trouble for,” says Marco Harris, Martin’s best friend growing up. “We just didn’t get caught. I think God had a different plan.”

Martin likes to say that people in his hometown look out for those trying to make good. It’s a rough place, and maybe this is a strange dynamic, but he thinks his hometown protected him, helping him make it.

…..

Martin carried his baby boy as he walked through the door of his Indianapolis home and collapsed. He remembers stretching his arms out to drop the boy on the couch, saving the impact. His wife rushed him to the hospital, where they ran tests and X-rays. He’ll never forget the doctor’s voice.

“I don’t know if you’re going to live or die,” he said. “This is very serious.”

Thankfully, Cuonzo Martin did live, but not without having to fight non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, as this article from MissouriStateBears.com recounts:

Cuonzo Martin lost weight at an alarming rate while he was playing professionally in Italy. He had trouble breathing and after several exams he was told that he had bronchitis and was required to return home immediately.

Upon his return Martin met with a US doctor. The doctor in a business-like, matter of fact tone told Martin that he had cancer, “life threatening cancer.” At 26 years old and in the prime of his life, Cuonzo Martin who grew up in the middle of the societal cancers of East St. Louis now faced Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The tumor was located between his heart and lungs and it was an aggressive and growing mass.

He was treated with the most advanced and most volatile treatments available at that time. The chemotherapy left him near death. He could barely move and his will to live was reduced to one prayer, “God, please let me live long enough to see my 4 month old son turn 18 years old.”

That was the prayer of a dying man who had only one option, trust that God might listen and give him one last chance to make a difference for his son, Joshua. God listened and today just before practice I watched Cuonzo Martin with emotion filled eyes and slightly trembling hands describe the horror he once faced one day at a time.

Tennessee fans, and Clay Travis, in the coming weeks and months when you wonder why Cuonzo Martin has such a nuanced, refreshing, and positive outlook on life, remember this passage. Let’s just say that he can truly appreciate every opportunity he is given because for ‘Zo every day truly is an opportunity that at one time he did not think he’d have.

So when I see retweets like this from Travis and other Tennessee fans, you’ll forgive me if I think it’s a little ridiculous and a lot short-sighted:

@Josh_Ward What a joke this whole process has been.

Why rush hire in one week? Are coaches with one career NIT win really that hot of commodities?

Here’s the thing: Travis isn’t entirely off base when he wonders if Martin is really that hot of a commodity. And this tweet, where he describes Martin as a “bargain basement hire” isn’t entirely off base either.

Martin is something of a “bargain basement” hire when you compare him to Flavor of the Month – and, granted, NCAA Tournament proven – coaches like Shaka Smart of VCU, who Travis earlier in the day implored Tennessee to go after. (As for Brad Stevens…ha! Like he’d even think about a job at an unethical football school.)

So while I’ll grant that Travis makes some points in Tennessee perhaps rushing the process and perhaps going off the radar with its choice, neither means that they didn’t get the best man for the job.

And I suppose this – some 1600 words into the post – is where I should talk about Cuonzo Martin the coach - even though he always has been and always will be 10x better and more valuable to a program as a man than he is as a coach.

For those Tennessee fans like @yelojaketgirl who tweeted to me [sic] “he came outta nowhere!!! thats a terrible choice!!!” just look ‘Zo’s short but telling history as a head coach:

2008–2009 Missouri State 11–20 3–15 10th
2009–2010 Missouri State 24–12 8–10 7th CIT Champions
2010–2011 Missouri State 26–9 15–3 1st NIT 2nd Round

cuonzo-martin-tennessee-head-coachIn his first year, the Bears obviously struggled to a 10th place finish; but look at the improvement. They won 24 games his second season and won the CIT championship. This year, they were the regular season champions of one of the 10-12 best basketball conferences in America, the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bears unfortunately stumbled in their conference tournament and were not deemed worthy of a bid by the Selection Committee, though I know more than a few smart basketball people who thought they deserved a look.

Combine Martin’s early success as a head coach with his pedigree – he learned under Gene Keady and Matt Painter, both of whom are better coaches than the departing Bruce Pearl that Vol fans seem to be already missing – and I ask you: what is there not to like or feel good about?

Oh, and as to Clay Travis’ tweet above about how Tennessee could be so foolish as to hire a coach with “one career NIT win”…

  • Guess how many NCAA Tournaments Bob Knight went to in six years at his first job, Army, before he was hired at Indiana: none. (He went to the NIT four times, never reaching the finals)
  • Guess how many NCAA Tournament appearances Mike Krzyzewksi had at Army, his first job, before being hired at Duke: none. Guess how many NIT wins Coach K had in his five years at Army: none.

Now, you may say that it’s unfair to compare Cuonzo Martin to two of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball. I say why?

No one looks back and questions their hiring, despite neither doing a whole hell of a lot at their first jobs. And you could argue that Martin has actually done more in his first job than either Knight or Krzyzewski did in theirs.

Cuonzo Martin at Missouri State, unlike Knight or Coach K at their first gigs, has a led a team to both a conference regular season championship and a post-season championship (CIT) in three years on the job. He’s done all of this mostly by changing attitudes and “coaching ‘em up” as we say; he hasn’t even had his own recruiting class go all the way through his program. And this is the guy that recruited JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore to Purdue – ever heard of them? So he can recruit too.

Update: Many of the commenters have mentioned how great Cuonzo Martin’s speech was when he received the MVC Coach of the Year. And it is. Here it is for those who have seen it:

And in case you needed one more bit of evidence that Cuonzo Martin is a good hire, how about the fact that the people who know ‘Zo best believe in him wholeheartedly. Consider this article about the uncertain future of Matt Painter from Travis over at Hammer and Rails tonight:

In this poker game I was like many in thinking that our safety blanket was Cuonzo Martin, another former player and assistant who just completed a successful season at Missouri State. It was assumed that he would take over if Painter departed. Of course, that was before the news broke that Martin was headed to Tennessee.

In that past 24 hours I have spoken with Bryan Gaskins, my editor at the Kokomo Tribune and a fellow Purdue alum. Last night he told me he had a bad feeling about the Painter situation, but that is far from anything definite. Seconds ago I receive and e-mail from him with the headline “WE’RE SCREWED” announcing that Martin was hired.

To me, this was a key piece taken off the table because everyone knew Martin was going to be the top target if Painter left.

Notice how easily Travis discusses Cuonzo as the supposed heir apparent to Painter, should Painter ever leave West Lafayette? Well I have news for you Tennessee fans: Purdue is at least 2X as good a job as Tennessee is. The Boilermakers, as I’ve detailed before, have perhaps the most underrated basketball program in America, which includes the most Big 10 titles of any school and a winning record against every Big 10 team. If Purdue was assuming Cuonzo as next in line for the throne – and believe me, Travis was not alone in this thought – then why the hell is he so objectionable for a school like Tennessee, that is and always will be football-first and less attractive a job than Purdue?

Here is the truth of the matter: Tennessee was reaching for the moon (Stevens), got a star (Cuonzo Martin), and they smartly decided that was good enough. You wonder why they acted so quickly, Clay Travis et al? Because if there is any truth to the Matt Painter-to-Missouri rumors, Purdue would snatch Cuonzo Martin up so fast it would make your head spin. And Purdue fans, who are both more intelligent and passionate basketball fans than Vols fans, would have been jumping for joy at the hire despite their disappointment over Painter leaving.

As it stands, I highly doubt Painter goes anywhere, and Tennessee just lucked into a smart, hungry, classy, tough young coach who can save its ass and rebuild its program in the wake of Bruce Pearl’s ignominious demise. Cuonzo Martin will succeed at Tennessee. He may not blow the doors off next year as he deals with the Pearl transition, but he’ll have Tennessee competing for SEC championships by his third year, just as he did at Missouri State.

But here’s the rub Tennessee: you treat your basketball job like it’s a destination – like Brad Stevens would leave Butler to run to Knoxville, or like Cuonzo Martin is somehow lucky you offered him a job.

Wake up.

Tennessee isn’t even on Brad Stevens’ radar, and you’re only getting a respected young coach like Cuonzo Martin because you acted quickly and didn’t wait around like the Clay Travises of the world wanted you too.

My prediction is that in 5-6 years, ‘Zo will have used his success in Knoxville as a stepping stone to a better job, probably in the Big Ten.

Sure, that might not happen. It’s no guarantee. Tennessee certainly has the money to keep top coaches if they want to, and the SEC is a premier conference that offers plenty of benefits to an ambitious coach like Martin.

But the point remains: Cuonzo Martin is not the lucky one tonight; Tennessee basketball is. Clearly – from the tweets and comments and message boards posts – it’s going to take a little while for that to sink in, but eventually it will. And then you’ll know why so many people from the Midwest applauded this hire from the moment it was announced.

Cuonzo Martin has already proven himself to be a very good young coach, but more importantly he’s proven himself to be an ever better man and an impeccable example for every player who will play for him at Tennessee. For an athletic department that has often lost its way over the last decade in choosing to cut corners and compromise ethics in the name of winning, you should be proud to hire a man who has never had nor taken the easy way out on his difficult, bumpy, cancerous road to success.

Tennessee fans, this may come as a shock to your elitist sensibilities, but you have proven tonight that you don’t deserve Cuonzo Martin. The least you could do is not wait until he’s winning to appreciate him.

**********

Update: In the minutes after I posted this, the following tweet came in from @rcjakesvoles:

@greggdoyelcbs @JerodMSF let’s not judge all Vol fans by @ClayTravisBGID . He’s gone shock jock. Martin best of guys we could get…by far

I am posting it because I want Tennessee fans to know that I have zero agenda here. I based my interpretation of the Tennessee fan reaction on the comments section of every article I read right after Zo’s hiring was announced, Clay Travis’ Twitter feed, and my own Twitter feed. If there are dissenting opinions of people who like the Cuonzo hiring, please post in the comment section below. And people who think I’m way off base with the post above, comment too.

We’re all about discussion here at MSF. Let’s have one.

———-

Update: I just received an email from a thoughtful Vols fan named Ryan, and I’d like to relay a portion of it here – because it contains a valid criticism of how I handled writing this article.

After expressing positivity at the Martin hiring, here is what the emailer said:

I do take issue with the end of your story.  For some reason, you choose to think that Clay Travis represents all Vol fans.  Vol fans are just like any other fans of any program.  When you replace someone who most people think is a top 15 coach, of course there’s going to be people that bitch about any coach that comes in.  Bruce was beloved in Knoxville.  He made his own bed in this situation, but that’s another subject.

But you wrote:

“Tennessee fans, this may come as a shock to your elitist sensibilities, but you have proven tonight that you don’t deserve Cuonzo Martin.”

After reading such a well written article, it’s kind of surprising that you would pop something like that in there.  What kind of research did you do to come to that conclusion?  Where did you read all of the negative rhetoric?  Is it because you read something that Clay Travis wrote?   Well then, by all means go ahead and judge a fanbase by one guy.

From what I’ve seen tonight, most people had similar reactions.  And that was “Who?”, followed by “what the hell?”, followed by “this could be pretty good” after getting info about Martin.  But again, please judge a fanbase by one or two people.

Otherwise, it was a great article.  I really look forward to seeing Martin come in and stamp his style on the program.  Despite what many people think, UT was not a rogue program.  We had a coach that stupidly decided to lie about a contact with juniors.  But it is what it is.  That is done and it’s on to Martin.  We welcome him as coach and hope he’s able to build on what Bruce started.

Ryan, you’re right. In coming passionately to Cuonzo Martin’s defense I generalized the Tennessee basketball fanbase based on an overwhelming number of comments and tweets I saw. I was so excited to sit down and write in opposition of these opinions that I didn’t take quite enough time to seek out the other side of Vol Nation.

With that said, our goal here at MSF is always to start conversations, not end them. And I’m very glad that so many people have commented to take me to task for generalizing the Tennessee fan opinion on the Martin hire. I’m also glad that so many seem in favor of it or at least willing to give Martin a fair shot.

I was wrong to generalize, and I apologize for that, though in the end I wouldn’t change the article because it is honest and induced a worthwhile conversation between inquiring minds. That’s my goal as a blogger and we achieved it tonight. And we’ll continue to have an open, lively discourse in the comment section.
———-

Update: Final note for the evening before I head off to bed…I responded to every comment received before around midnight Central Time tonight. Then I just looked, and we had about 10 more. I’m sorry if I can respond to all comments tonight/tomorrow/in the future. If you look at my other responses, and at the updates to the this post, I think that you’ll see I’ve taken the words to Tennesssee fans to heart and that I appreciate them. I wish I didn’t have to sleep/work…but alas, I am just a blogger and hence my real world begins again on Monday.

Sincerely though: thank you to everyone who visited, read, commented, tweeted, and posted in message boards about this column. Any bit of attention is always appreciated here at MSF, and we’ve been happy to welcome Tennessee fans into our water cooler discussion tonight.

Hopefully you’ve all found it as enlightening as I have.

———-

Update: I promise I’ll stop adding updates at some point, but I am getting so many thoughtful emails from Tennessee fans that make great points and provide a more well-rounded view of this story than what my initial post provided. Here is one that, I think, does a nice job of rationalizing the initial negative knee-jerk reaction from Vol fans:

I would like to defend the Tennessee fan base for reacting so negatively to the news.

The typical Tennessee fan had not done much research, and most of them had never even heard of Cuonzo Martin until last night.  This was made worse by the fact that names like Jamie Dixon, Brad Stevens and Jay Wright had been floated by Knoxville’s sports media as possible candidates for the job.  Any Vol fan who reads your article on Martin, I’m certain, would change their tune toward the new coach.

However, you cannot blame them for being disappointed by Martin when earlier in the week the press had implied they might be getting Jamie Dixon. I believe and certainly hope you are right, and that within three years Martin will have Knoxville saying, “Bruce who?”  Until then, let’s have fun watching the Cuonzo work.

Well said. And I’ve seen a huge shift in the tone of the reaction just in the last 12 hours, which is great to see.



About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.

Comments

  1. Missouri Valley guys rock! (Missouri State shouldve been in tourney)
    Good article. Hit all the points. Surely some UT fans appreciate and more will.
    Pearl is a two-faced, classless, lying embarrassment to sports, who should be shunned and never hired again. Corrupt schmuck who doesnt appreciate the easy and lucrative life he's led while other, like Cuonzo (and ordinary folks), sacrifice.

    • SEC owns Big 10 says:

      Wow . . . let this Vol fan bow down to the greatness that is Purdue. Didn't realize the Boilers were up there with Carolina, Duke and Kentucky in basketball lore. What a joke, almost as big a joke as this coach

      • No one said Purdue was up there Carolina, Duke, or Kentucky…just that they're ahead of Tennessee in the bball pecking order. Not sure that's really arguable in basketball.

  2. Great Article. Don't let the tweets and comments from a few outspoken fans speak for everyone. I am excited about the hire and even more so after reading this article.

  3. I am a TN, alum and season ticket holder for football. I was excited to hear about the hire of CM. Based on impending NCAA sanctions, no "name" coaches were coming to TN. The problem some TN fans are having tonight is coming to grips with the realization that Pearl really is gone. Give it a day or 2 and the fans will warm to CM.

    • This is a great point. And you're right…in 48 hours, the reaction probably will be different, and I might not be compelled to write this article with such a slant against UT fans (one particular…). But just like the UT fans I saw tonight reacted passionately, so did I. Cuonzo Martin is someone basketball fans in the Midwest have admired for a long time. I think a lot of us take it personally when we see knee-jerk reactions from a southern school that denigrate 'Zo without getting to know him. He is going to represent Tennessee with class, integrity, and he'll win. I know that's ultimately the most important thing, and I have no problem sticking my neck out on the line for him. Winner. That's what you got. And I'm glad to see that a lot of the comments coming in are proving that there is a vocal opposition to the knee-jerk reaction I saw.

  4. Good article but no offense, but if you go judging fan bases by twitter and message boards, then that's your fault. Obviously, the message board/twitter people do not reflect Vol Nation, just the ignorant loud-mouth ones. These guys complained about Bruce even when he was winning. Don't take it personally. With that said, Go Cuonzo and Go Vols!

  5. He(Travis) is not indicative of the entire fan base of UT as most of us(myself included)are willing to give him the time and opportunity he needs to be successful.

    • Good to hear. Seriously. I'm glad that most commenters here are tending to disagree with my generalization of Vol fans. Admittedly, I wrote this piece in a very reactionary mindset to what I was seeing. Good to know I was only seeing a small slice of the pie.

  6. hoops fan says:

    man oh man. Big10 basketball is long since dead. Oh St Wisc…. lol these teams looked horrible. Why would anyone want to live in West Laf. Ind? I mean that is really the PITTS of the Universe.

  7. VOLS4Life says:

    UT alum here…Great article. I'll have to admit, thought when I first heard the news this evening, I was shocked. I was assuming UT would at least offer Stephens and pursue Shaka. However, after researching Cuonzo, I have a new found respect. I'd never heard of him, but after watching the video of his speech after winning the conference COY award….I knew us VOL fans were in for something special. Again, thanks for the article. Congrats to Coach Martin and Go Vols!

    • Yes you are. Cuonzo Martin is special. I don't offer praise to non-IU players, especially Purdue players, all that often; but Cuonzo Martin is an exception. I tweeted earlier today that DJ White improved as much if not more than any IU player I ever remember watching. Well, NO ONE improved more from freshman to senior than Cuonzo Martin (except maybe Brian Evans, his contemporary), and it's just a symbol of what he brings as a coach. I don't know exactly what he'll face when he gets to Knoxville, but he'll win as quickly as anyone else would. And the upshot is that he could be a 20-25 year coach who turns Tennessee into a perennial winner. Not a bad way to transition out of the Pearl era.

      • What he'll face is a roster that Pearl left pretty bare. If Tobias Harris goes pro (he's testing the waters), we'll have exactly one true post left on the roster. If Harris and Hopson leave (as most of us expect), we'll lose 7 of the top 8 contributors from this year. Next year was going to be rough whoever coached us. CCM will have to hit the recruiting trail hard. May need some JuCo stopgaps.

        • And he can do that. Part of my focus is imploring UT fans to give him time. I don't know what Martin will face, so he may not win immediately, but he will win. Hell, I'm an IU fan. We've been patient for 3 years and are still waiting for the payoff. It will come though, and it will for UT also.

  8. I agree with the last tweet you posted, Clay Travis has gone completely shock jock since Fulmer was fired. For instance, he hated Dooley during the losing streak that we had in October (wrote an entire article about how terrible a hire he was), then sucked up to him when Dooley was in Nashville earlier this year after finishing the year out strongly.

    Anyways, I think this was a solid hire, especially after I read through what you had to say about Martin. Don't assume any fanbase is made up entirely of jackasses who only have knee-jerk reactions. There are some of us who like to read up on things and taking a wait and see attitude before making rash opinions. I am sure that Clay will be sucking up to Martin if he turns out to be a great hire.

    • Point granted and lesson learned Jon. I'll admit that I probably over-reacted to a few comment sections, Clay's tweets, and the tweets that came in on my feed – but I'm glad I did because I think this kind of Martin profile needed to be told to Vol fans. You'll hear a lot of glowing things about him from Midwesterners, and none of them are BS. This guy is going to be successful and we all know it. Be happy you got him when you did.

      And my apologies to all of the Vol fans who DO NOT fit into the generalization I gave above. Thank you for providing the alternative perspective here in the comment section.

  9. Hey, Clay is a shock-jock these days and a Finebaum wannabe. I am proud to have Cuonzo in Knoxville and MANY others are as well. Tweets from so&so mean nothing. I do appreciate your view and completely understand it. We are lucky to have him and some don't realize that right now. Good job though. Tennessee is a sleeping giant in hoops and Bruce knew it and did it. Coach Martin will too.

    • Thanks for the comment Kevin, much appreciated. No doubt Cuonzo will be able to pick up on what Pearl left, even if it takes a year or two to kick-start the momentum again.

  10. AS has been stated in the previous posts not all Big Orange fans are disappointed. This is a new era at UT. Coach Pearl had a larger than life personality but lacked integrity. For the new coach to be successful here, he will need to embrace Big Orange Country. Personally tired of fairweather fans…you are either a fan all the time(through good and bad times) or not at all.

    • Good point jrb, and I think you'll find in Cuonzo a man who will embrace Big Orange.

      And let me say this: while I think that Purdue is Martin's ultimate dream job, I certainly think that he could be at Tennessee for 20-25 years. No, I don't think the Tennessee job is as attractive as some Vol fans have made it to be, and I think any Big Ten job would call to Martin strongly, but if he gets off to a good start and things get rolling, UT is certainly good enough to be a destination job with the right coach. Martin is loyal, so this could very well be a marriage that lasts for a long while, regardless of any individual bloggers' trepidations about it.

  11. I hope CMartin does better then when Iowa hired a former Big 10 star to coach from the same school. Ask Hawkeye fans about Steve Alford.

    • Alford had some success at Iowa, but no one has been able to win there consistently in almost two decades now. Todd Lickliter is a very good coach too, and he couldn't get it done either. I'd caution blaming that all on Alford, though I would say he is a good but not great coach. It was still a good hire by Iowa. Sometimes things don't work out like you want them to or like they should. And whether or not 'Zo works out in Knoxville remains to be seen. It's not always just the coach's fault. Some good coaches have failed to duplicate Dr. Tom's success at Iowa.

  12. Most of the folks who are upset are those who weren't paying attention. I bet they didn't know who Pearl was either. The reception at Rocky Top Talk has been mixed but mostly positive. Martin certainly has a better resume than Dooley.

    I'm not sure about your stepping stone comments though. We have a large athletic budget and will support a winner. If Martin builds on Pearl's success, he won't have much reason to leave. Better to build your own legacy than try to follow a legend like Izzo. If an alma mater job opens up, that's different, but Painter is as young as Martin. And if a basketball royalty job opens up, that's different too, but you mentioned that he has strong reason to hate Indiana.

    Either way, right now, I'm just hoping he builds enough success that this is even a question. But everything I'm reading looks positive.

  13. Very good article. I think what has caused the knee-jerk reaction among TN fans, of which I'm one, is the fact that Martin was, and is (at least for now), an unknown name to most outside the Big 10. Most Vol fans, expecting a big name or at least a well known mid-major coach, found themselves searching the internet trying to figure our who was just announced as their school's new head coach. Give it some time though. The more people hear about him and the more they read about him, the more they'll like him. In the end, I think more people will agree with you than Clay Travis (or at least I hope so).

    If you're looking for substance and objectivity re: Tennessee follow @wesrucker247 rather than @ClayTravisBGID. I'm sure you'll see a big difference in commentary concerning all things Vols, including the hire of Cuonzo Martin.

  14. Clay Travis is a joke. From a die hard UT fan welcome Coach Martin.

    • I'm starting to get that feeling from a lot of Val fans, and realizing my generalizations may have been pretty far off. Good to hear though. I don't mind being wrong about something like that.

  15. Thanks for this. Anyone who follows the Missouri Valley Conference knows how great a coach Cuonzo Martin is. I live in Nashville and have to decide how much energy I'm willing to spend trying to convince UT fans that they picked a winner.

  16. I'm another Vol fan who think we were lucky to get a coach like Martin. Don't judge the fan base by the ignorance of the vocal minority. Every school has a element expecting to hire Phil Jackson. It's the rule and not the exception. But I think you underrate the Tennessee job somewhat. We've had success under Mears and DeVoe in the past and we didn't build that 20K arena in the 1980s for the Lady Vols either. When Cuonzo Martin is a success in Knoxville, I'm confident that he'll continue ti build on the program which first gave him a shot at the major level.

    • Good point. I may have undershot the probability of Martin being 15-20 fixture there, assuming he wins like I think he will. Like Brad Stevens, I think there are a few jobs Martin would love in an ideal world, but he'd have to win big AND the timing would have to be right to get them.

  17. Tennessee alum and I love the hire. At first I wanted a bigger name, but after doing some research I am stoked and can not wait for the presser tomorrow. You are wrong about how Tennessee bball is not a good job though. We have ridiculous facilities, a budget that would blow the Purdues and Indianas of the world out of the water, and top 5 attendance. I think Cuonzo recognized this and will be more than happy with the position. Look how much we piad Bruce and how fast we did it. If he does succeed and a Big Ten team wants him they better bring their check book.

  18. Great article by the way. Travis is a clown and knows very little about bball. I am pretty sure he is a closet Vandy fan and never attended UT.

  19. Memphis Bob says:

    Another Vol fan here – appreciate your article and, in addition to being very impressed with his record at Missouri State, I saw Cuonzo's youtube press conference accepting the MVC coach of the year and was hugely impressed with the guy. I think this was the right hire for UT.

    Also understand that there is a lot of frustration with the UT AD for the Kiffin hire and the lack of oversight of the basketball program so negative comments probably relate to that. Not to mention that Pearl packed the area (UT has been top 5 in hoops attendance for several years) and was a beloved figure by both the students and the fans. Once the fans get to see Cuonzo in person, they will love the guy.

    Oh and UT fans don't really pay attention to the joke that is Clay Travis, so don't judge us by that clown.

    • I am starting to get the feeling that UT fans don't want to be judged by the opinions of Clay Travis…and it is duly noted. I do not have a bead on the UT fan base, so I have to go with what commenters suggests. And as you say, I think the hatred/distrust of Hamilton has a lot to do with the knee-jerk reaction. Once fans get to know Martin, they'll love him.

  20. Volhacker1 says:

    I think you are writing about the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. You have ignorant idiots in all fan bases. Please do not judge the majority of Tennessee's fan base by the ignorant minority.

  21. UT student here. I was shocked at the hire at first. However, after doing some research, I feel very comfortable with the hiring of Cuonzo Martin. There are plenty of Tennessee fans who were unhappy with Pearl and are happy with the new coach. However, there is always a vocal minority in every fan base.

  22. Clay Travis was once a sensible person, but he has become more of the shock jock type and seems as though he likes to strike up the emotions of the Volnation. I'm no basketball expert by any means but it didn't take a lot of research on my part to understand that this is a good hire for UT. Much of the UT fanbase is still too irrational about the BP firing to see our future potential with CCM as our head coach. Looking forward to the press conference and formal announcement tomorrow. Don't judge the Volnation on the rantings of an idiot like Clay Travis.

    • You are perhaps the 20th person to tell me not to judge VolNation by the rantings of Travis, so I promise not to. You are also echoing a sentiment I'm seeing often: that the disappointment at Pearl's firing is making it hard for people to see Martin for what he is. I respect that, and it's a great point. Thanks for making it. It's important for the context of this story

  23. Arnie Clough says:

    Mr Morris
    You bring up good points. Even though he was not my first choice, I will support him. I know with everything going on we (UT) were not going to get a big name. However you seem to think Clay Travis speaks for a TN fans, he does not. Aren't you guilty of misjudging all of us as you have accused us of judging Coach Martin? I want him to succeed. I am looking forward to your reply.

    • I agree with this posting. I do feel like you have misjudged many Tennessee fans. Pearl broke the rules, got caught and lied about it to NCAA. Not everyone (like me) in Tennessee agrees with his actions. I don't know much about Coach Martin. In the process of finding more info, I found your posting. I am willing to give him a chance. The Good Lord knows he has his work cut out for him. Don't judge me based on what Clay Travis states….obviously he is not speaking for me.

      • This comment pretty much sums up the majority of what has been posted here. Thanks for visiting. And believe me, I've opened my mind wide to Vol Nation when it comes to basketball tonight. Much more depth and passion there than I'd suspected.

    • Yes, I am. Hopefully my updates to the article and comment replies show that I'm sincere in acknowledging that. Luckily, the point of the article was to laud 'Zo – and I'm glad I succeeded in that. But yes, I over-generalized, and I underestimated the passion of Vol basketball fans. I NEVER expected this swift and passionate a reaction. It's fantastic, but unexpected. And I'll never let Clay Travis speak for VolNation again!

  24. Brent Hubbs says:

    I am a huge Vol fan and love the hire.]

  25. Amazing you criticize Tennessee fans for being so shortsighted while being guilty of the very same thing yourself.

    Let me break it down for you, so you have a better perspective on where Tennessee fans are coming from.

    Tennessee basketball before Bruce Pearl was garbage. We lined the upper levels of our 25k seat arena with curtains because not enough people showed up to games. We won 14 games the season before Bruce Pearl. Bruce came in, and with even less talent, won our division. But that's not all he did, he was much more than just a coach. He rallied the fanbase. He made going to UT basketball games fun again. He would stand on cafeteria tables, go door to door in dorms, and so many other teams to get people to show up to games. He was funny, he was charismatic, he was a winner. And there was no indication that Tennessee was slowing down. We pumped millions of dollars to renovating our arena and building a practice facility. We had top 5 attendance because people loved watching basketball at Tennessee for the first time since Ray Mears. There was no doubt in UT fans' minds that he would continue this success.

    Then, the accusations come out. But let's review those:

    – Bruce Pearl had a BBQ dinner at his house, two juniors (who were committed to UT at the time) showed up unexpectedly to the game, so instead of ignoring them, Bruce brings them to the dinner where the rest of his team is.

    – Bruce Pearl lied to the NCAA about excessive phone calls. Bruce's assistant actually lied to the NCAA first while being interviewed. When Bruce found out, he panicked. He now had two options: tell the NCAA the truth and have his assistant fired and receive severe punishments, or lie, save his assistant's job, and hope he was able to fix it in the future. Unfortunately, he chose the latter.

    – Those were the "major violations". While coaches like John Calipari walk around unharmed after leaving 2 programs with major sanctions, Jim Calhoun battles the NCAA on his issues (which are, if found guilty much worse than Bruce), and a myriad of other coaches who "get away" with stuff every day. Bruce is slapped with an 8 game ban by the SEC commissioner (which no commissioner has ever done before), and punished financially and recruiting wise by his university.

    – And the straw that broke the camel's back, a bump violation where he ran into a recruit at one of his high school games and talked with him 60 seconds longer than he was allowed. Something which happens and is ignored by the majority of other coaches and other programs.

    Fast forward, we have a football program coming off Lane Kiffin sanctions but still on shaky ground, and a basketball vacancy. All these big names are tossed around, Lawrence Frank, Brad Stevens, Jamie Dixon, etc. etc. as potential replacements. These are PROVEN winners, not just over 3 years, but decades. It's rumored that Tennessee is willing to pay $2 million per year, a top 10 salary. Finally, it seems like the administration is set on continuing the success Bruce created.

    Instead, we hire Cuonzo Martin. An unproven and relatively unknown head coach from our perspective.

    We're right back where we started, in a state of uncertainty. Throwing the fishing line into the pond of mid majors and hoping to pull out another big fish.

    Cuonzo may succeed, "may", the key word, but nothing is guaranteed. Tennessee fans will root for him every game, though. Do not doubt our loyalty to anything Tennessee. But we expect to win, and that's not unreasonable at all.

    • Brian, thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to comment. I really do appreciate it.

      And first off, you're right. I generalized UT fans and criticized them for doing what I was doing. You've proven me wrong tonight, and I respect your fan base more because of it.

      And you bring up great points about Pearl. I've learned more tonight about just how much he meant to UT. I knew he was a popular figure in Knoxville, but admittedly did not know just how far he'd built the program.

      We both come to this with our own biases. I hate Kentucky and think Big 10 basketball is superior to SEC basketball. The same probably holds true for you and Ohio State and SEC/Big 10 football (but correct me if I'm wrong!). Ultimately, my point in writing this article was to stick up for a guy I truly respect a think will be a great coach – Cuonzo Martin. From the responses this article is getting, I'm glad to say that it seems like I didn't need to write it as much as I thought I did. Vol fans seems pretty measured and open-minded. That's great to see…because you're getting a very good head coach and I think he can build on what Pearl had developed.

      • I just hope people realize the "dislike" of Martin is simply because he's an unknown. We don't know enough about him because he really doesn't have a record to dislike/like. 3 ok years as HC of Missouri State, that's really all we know about his coaching ability.

        We went from being so sure we had our guy for the next 20 years to right back where we started, wondering if Tennessee will make the tourney next year. That's where the backlash is from.

        I enjoyed your article though and hope you're right about Cuonzo, every UT fan does.

        And I'd gladly buy you a beer over your hate for Kentucky, I hope that program rots in hell.

  26. Humblevolntx says:

    I'm grateful for all the fan support at this article after viewing the spewing of initial reaction that I believe was subconsciously directed at Hamilton. A large contingency of VOL nation would find it hard to believe Hamilton could do anything right after "The Press Conference".

  27. So he's supposed to be a good hire at a top shelf SEC school because he (a) was a tough player, (b) survived cancer, (c) enjoyed moderate success at Podunk U, and (d) maybe was in the Perdue pipeline?

    Sorry. I don't buy it as a slam dunk. All his friends speak well of him? Good. Most peoples friends do.

    I'm going to be behind Cuonzo or whatever because I'm a fan but acting like UT fans who are very disappointed are ridiculous is just as silly as the message board/twitter stuff writing the new coach off already.

    Tennessee fans are bummed because no matter well we support the program, no matter how much money we pump in to sports at the University we are constantly hiring no-names and hoping for the best. Our basketball program was never going to get an A-List coach – I don't think anyone thought we were. But the money we can offer and the facilities should be enough to get someone who won more games at a major program as a coach rather than a player.

    Again, I'm on board with Martin simply because he is the hire. Just don't act like UT fans who are disappointed are off their rocker.

    • There is some validity here. But I think the overall point is that sometimes you have to swing for the fences to hit a home run. Cuonzo Martin is a potential home run head coach. You weren't getting Stevens, so if it wasn't 'Zo you were going to get a retread. Why not take your chances on a young guy with the energy to help you through the next troublesome 1-2 years? That's why I think it's such a great hire, despite the valid points you make.

      • Volsalltheway says:

        I have a question for you, being that you are so much more intelligent than SEC/UT fans. You stated the following;
        "Well I have news for you Tennessee fans: Purdue is at least 2X as good a job as Tennessee is. The Boilermakers, as I’ve detailed before, have perhaps the most underrated basketball program in American",,,,,,
        "And Purdue fans, who are both more intelligent and passionate basketball fans than Vols fans"
        If Purdue is 2X the job of lowly UT AND the Purdue fans are so passionate about basketball then why are the NCAA basketball attendance numbers look so out of order……see below……

        1. Kentucky 18 433,989 24,111
        2. Syracuse 19 420,890 22,152
        3. Louisville 19 368,537 19,397
        4. Tennessee 16 306,680 19,168
        5. North Carolina 19 337,934 17,786
        ……………
        20. Purdue 16 218,896 13,681

        You would think a university like Purdue could build a arena for such passionate fans, I mean even lowly Tennessee did for their less than passionate fans. Or maybe the issue is you are one of the Big Ten fans which hates the fact they are the SEC's little female dog.

        • I think it is very myopic and silly to try to judge a team and its fan base on the size of their arena – which, when you get to the upper levels of college basketball, is how attendance is determined. Duke is also lower than the schools you mention, but I doubt you'd make the same argument about them. It takes a lot more than attendance to define a strong, passionate, intelligent fan base.

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply. I appreciate it.

        • I always try to…getting a bit overwhelming with this post! (But that's a very good thing. I appreciate all of the activity from Tennessee fans.)

  28. Thanks for the article, I just graduated from Tennessee and I had the pleasure of working in the athletic department at UT. My four years marked the best 4 years that Tennessee basketball ever experienced. I am a huge Pearl supporter and think it is a shame that he was let got the way he was. Be that as it may, I was really concerned about the next hire and the character that the coach would bring to the program. Upon reading your article along with various other ones, it is clear to me that Coach Martin is a man of character. Thank you for your post and please know that not all of Tennessee fans and alum feel the same way the message boards communicate. At least in Knoxville, Tennessee has been a basketball school since Pearl came to town. I know it doesn't seem like that to all other observers not in the south, but basketball holds the hearts of many a Tennessee fan (including yours truly).

    • Thanks for comment – believe me, I've gained a newfound respect for Tennessee basketball fans tonight. I NEVER expected this kind of reaction – a) the volume and b) the rational support of the hiring. Clearly I judged too quickly, something I'll be mindful of in the future. I also underestimated the appreciation Vol fans have for Coach Pearl – though even from Clay Travis I should have realized that!

  29. Arnie Clough says:

    Oh well, why bother.

  30. Bruce Pearl was a home run and made Tennessee a destination job. As for Martin I don't want to hear about three seasons. Pearl did it in one.

    • Pearl was a great coach for UT, no question. But be patient with 'Zo. He'll win.

    • Coach Pearl, who resurrected the Vols program, had a very "under the radar" long range gunner in his pocket. Chris Lofton was the key to the early, and immediate, success of Coach Pearl. I enjoyed every minute of it.

      There are no guns on this Vol team. Potential guns, yes, but none like CLo.

    • Pearl did it in one and is leaving now known as a cheater so I wonder why he did good his first year. No different than Auburn football. Chizik took them to a tilte in two years that's what happens when you cheat and pay for players.

      • Seriously?

        Pearl is gone because he lied…..period. He did not cheat anymore than what any other school does, including the Big Ten's beloved Buckeyes. Even the nationally known writers, Gary Parrish and Jerry Meyer, have stated that the secondary violations committed by Pearl were nothing, and these things are committed by others all the time. Pearl won early because of his style of play and excitement he brought to the program.

        That said, all Vol fans have to move on and support Martin. What's done is done, and I hope Cuonzo brings us success.

      • Hippasaur says:

        Chris, I beg to differ on your description of Bruce Pearl. He is not leaving UT being known as a "cheater', he is leaving UT being known as a "liar".

  31. I agree with everything everyone has said so far. When I first got the text from UT I was saying loudly 'no no no.' Then I jumped online and started doing some research. Anyone that's a true UT fan will absolutely love this guy. He's the basketball version of Coach Dooley and is exactly what our bball program needs right now. Give Vol Nation time to adjust and they'll come around and embrace Coach Martin and his family here on Rocky Top!

  32. Arnie Clough says:

    Well, so much for the discussion. I hope Coach Martin is very successful.

    • I think there has been a pretty good discussion…no?

      • Arnie Clough says:

        Not exactly. There has been plenty on Coach Martin being a great hire. But again, you seem to think Clay Travis speaks for all TN fans. I know we might not be as enlightened as some other fan bases, but from a passion standpoint we are

  33. News flash here — Tennessee is a destination basketball coaching job. You can win a NCAA title from UT (men or women). We have the 13th highest revenue in the country and a huge arena which is supercool atmosphere to play in.

    Thanks for the article, but Vol fans are pretty rabid about basketball, and have the attendence record to show it!

    • No question you are proving to be more rabid than I anticipated. Just as SEC fans have a football arrogance, I guess by Big 10 basketball arrogance shone through in my post. Doesn't change anything I said about 'Zo, but I could have been more fair to Tennessee and its fans. I'm glad that the fans have done it for me in the comment section!

  34. ImAnOldVolFan says:

    As a Vol fan, I am squarely behind Cuonzo Martin. He is our coach, and I support him. Until he shows that he is not the right person for the job, I am glad to have him.

    Bruce Pearl took over a program that had been floundering for years and transformed a fan base into a frenzied spectacle. For that we will always remember him. Pearl, however, proved to not be the right man for the job in the long run. Here's hoping that Coach Martin can pick up where Bruce left off and take this program to the top.

    Go VOLS!

  35. @Brian the Pearl Apologist: Your coach broke the rules, lied about it, got caught and he's bounced. You're lucky Nutt isn't your coach-for-life. It's hilarious to me that Pearl Supporters want to point at other, much, much, much, more successful coaches and whine like children in the sandbox. "But, but, but…. he did worse!" No Bri… he didn't. If he did, the NCAA would have proven it. BUT…. Calipari and Calhoun are still coaching… where's your guy who 'hardly did anything wrong?" He hardly did anything wrong just like he hardly did anything great with the vols. But hey, he did take every opportunity to plop his sweaty body across the laps of every co-ed he could find. Lots to be proud of their boy-o. I could see why you'd have a problem with Coach Martin. He doesn't fit the sweaty, back-door-dealing, greasy, atmosphere that is UT Sports.

    • Blastervol says:

      OK sweaty UT athletics the thing is 150,000 people show up to see 1 football game-1 mens basketball game-and 1 womens basketball game screaming loudly. Your right we probably are a little sweaty. Calipari left 2 programs with major sanctions and Calhoun is still riding his major sanctions. Anyone can catch Syphilis, just ask Ohio State. Hollier than thou asshole!

    • not trying to say that pearl didn't break the rules, he definitely did and got caught doing it. however, to say he never did anything great with the vols is completely absurd. before pearl came along the only tennessee basketball you heard about was pat summit and the lady vols. pearl took an almost nonexistent program and turned it into something great. granted he never made it to the big game, or to the final four even, but he did take us to our one and only elite eight, something no other mens coach ever accomplished. i know that may sound like much to some schools like kentucky or duke, but to tennessee fans we viewed it as a major step in our men's basketball program. i welcome coach martin with great eagerness to see what he does, but in the same sense i will also miss pearl and all he's did turning our program around. not to mention the things outside fans didn't get to see. for instance pearl along with summit and even our new fb coach dooley, created a highly unified athletics program at UT. the support he showed for every aspect of our athletic program was tremendous. he and summit had a very good relationship, and with that they brought in more UT fans to thompson boling arena than ever before. maybe do some research next time before making such vague assumptions. GO VOLS!!!!

  36. Ugh, please don't judge Tennessee fans on the likes of Clay Travis and those who post at govolsxtra.com (the site who's comment section you linked to in your post). Although Clay will pound you in the head with the fact that he is a lawyer, he is just as reactionary and sensational as any other sock jock on the radio fishing for listeners. Like every place else Tennessee has its share of crazy/reactionary/vocal fans, and they seemingly all congregate online at govolsxtra.

    Speaking honestly, because I had never heard of Martin and because he wasn't on my radar of coaching targets when he was announced I was a bit miffed. But after doing my due diligence I've become much more excited and supportive of the hire. Your pieced cemented that feeling, I'm now truly excited about the Martin era. You have to understand that people in Knoxville loved Pearl. He took a totally unsuccessful and dormant program to heights previously unfathomable. He was gregarious and active in the community plus he won at a clip that UT had never experienced before. Because of that we wanted to believe in him, and a lot of fans still do, hence the reaction on the internet. Since learning of Pearl's shady dealing, I was in favor of his firing. The idea that Pearl made his bed and now he has to sleep in it is a tough pill for many in Knoxville to swallow. Tennessee fans have been through so much turmoil over the past few years with Fulmer, Kiffin, and Pearl I really hope we can unite and give Martin the fair shake he is due. I know I will. Great article. Go Vols!

    P.S. Also, for perhaps the most rational source of Tennessee fan opinion on the internet, avoid govolsxtra and head over to rockytoptalk.com

  37. RuningWolf says:

    I'll always call Bruce Pearl my Coach. That doesn't mean I and others who feel the same wont call CM Coach or our Coach. He can't fill CBP shoes, his are different, he is a different man.

    However most or the Tenn knowledgeable BBall fans have looked at CM's record, what he has done at each step of his career, how he has handled life, etc. He will be given his chance his resume and his character appears to be excellent so there is more than a reasonable chance to expect he will succeed and win over the sceptics.

    With that said he is our coach now and I welcome him to Big Orange Country. Go vols

  38. no hard feelings here. sure not all vol fans were enamored with the hire. I'm elated, but I'd say it's 7:10 like:dislike. which is saying something since I'd venture our fanbase is 50/50 with intelligent fans to ignorant fans.

    there's an entire backstory to this hire as well. a lot of folks were hoping to use this hire as a catalyst to oust our athletic director and they're still trying to force it even though UTAD did a great job in getting Martin.

    thanks for writing this. a lot of UT fans needed a reality check from an outsider to shut them up.

    and as for Clay Travis? he's no Vol fan. he didn't even know how to pronounce our great coach of all time's name: Gen. Robert Neyland. total wanker.

  39. Here's the first major flaw in your article. It occurs when you state the following: "But from Travis, who I’ve always found to be rational, reasonable, and well-informed, I expected a little more than the shock-jock, knee-jerk, myopic reaction that he’s provided tonight." After reading this comment, it is quite obvious you have read nothing of his lately and have never once listened to his God-awful radio show in Nashville. He is the quintessential "shock-jock" now and I don't bother to read anything of his anymore. I still see his Twitter comments pop up on my feed but it's obvious that all he does is try to say the most controversial thing possible to stir people up. Paul Finebaum 2.0. Thing is, half the B.S. he spews proves to be completely off-base but you'll never catch him admitting he's wrong. All the Vol fans who are claiming this is such a bad hire are too damn stupid to realize that they know nothing about coaching, recruiting, etc. They know what they read and I question if some of them actually can read. I am a Vol fan that will support Martin 100% and now I hope he does well for obvious reasons but also to make some of our own look stupid. Shouldn't be hard.

    • You are right Chris: I have never listened to his radio show, and I certainly do not read the majority of what he writes. So this has been a learning experience for me – but if overstating Vol fans' reaction got more people to quickly learn about Zo's story, then I'm fine with it. We all learned a little bit from this exchange.

  40. Great article!

    Another UT guy here. Its going to take our fan base a while to get over the Bruce Pearl Drug, we loved the guy regardless. Anyway, I think this is a good hire, it wont take long form CM to settle in, UT fans have short memories.

  41. The hire was too rushed. Bottom line. The east is a beast with Billy at UF and Cal at UK. He better buckle up and recruit some players quick or he'll be out the door with our AD Mike Hamilton.

  42. Someone mentioned it before, I think, but if you want to keep track of Vol reaction to this hire you should definitely keep track of what the great authors over at RockyTopTalk.com say about the hire. They've never been ones to overlook bad actions by staff or administration just because they wear Orange but they also never seem to give the angry knee-slap reactions that so many others do. I expect there will be a lot on the hire in the next few days, and some of us are very thankful not only to have a good up-and-coming guy, but to just HAVE a Coach. The past few years have been so hard on the Big Orange fanbase, and we're an angry Southern bunch. But, like we've embraced Dooley, a good personality and an honest approach to situations does a whole lot to earn our trust.

    • Bobothevol says:

      Also, to make sure it's not overlooked: Great post. I understand the reaction; I'm not one to get angry about a hire until it proves to be a bad one. People should always have a chance to prove themselves; I just hope for Cuonzo's sake (that name, by the way, will take forever for us to learn) that he is able to find ways to keep the fanbase passionate about basketball.

  43. Volsalltheway says:

    I have a question for you, being that you are so much more intelligent than SEC/UT fans. You stated the following; "Well I have news for you Tennessee fans: Purdue is at least 2X as good a job as Tennessee is. The Boilermakers, as I’ve detailed before, have perhaps the most underrated basketball program in American",,,,,, "And Purdue fans, who are both more intelligent and passionate basketball fans than Vols fans" If Purdue is 2X the job of lowly UT AND the Purdue fans are so passionate about basketball then why are the NCAA basketball attendance numbers look so out of order……see below……

    1. Kentucky 18 433,989 24,111
    2. Syracuse 19 420,890 22,152
    3. Louisville 19 368,537 19,397
    4. Tennessee 16 306,680 19,168
    5. North Carolina 19 337,934 17,786
    ……………
    20. Purdue 16 218,896 13,681

    You would think a university like Purdue could build a arena for such passionate fans, I mean even lowly Tennessee did for their less than passionate fans. Or maybe the issue is you are one of the Big Ten fans which hates the fact they are the SEC's little female dog.

    • jiminy cricket says:

      your argument is flawed Volsalltheway.
      purdue takes its self seriously as a basketball school in a basketball state. UT is afootball school that recently has done well in Basketball under pearl.
      He isnt saying that UT hasnt done well, but its will come and go as its coaches do. Purdue had consistancy from its head coach in Gene Keady forever and brought on one of its own to continue its success.

      And know to your moronic statement about attendance. please let me know where your attendence /passionate fan meter is with duke and cameron indoor stadium. this isnt a pro sports league that will hold a city hostage for a new stadium.
      And the Big 10(12) is the SECs bitch. I do agree with that

  44. Bottom line from a die hard Tennessee fan. If Clay Travis doesn't like him then I DO!
    Clay Travis is the world's biggest know-it-all and we would be lucky in Nashville if somebody took him off the air and he gave his lips a rest. I have one of his books and will NEVER own another one. The guy has no respect for the past or for people in general. He thinks the sun rises and sets to suit him and no one else matters. Coach Martin welcome to Knoxville. A great story here!

    • I did not realize this was such a pervasive opinion about Travis, but from this comment section alone it's clear that this faction is out there…and vocal.

      • OnTheHill says:

        Travis didn't go to UT, either. He went to George Washington University, then law school at Vandy.

        Travis is seen as a shock-jock throughout the entire SEC. With the book Dixieland Delight, he had a chance to be taken seriously in the south, but blew it.

        The sentiment about Travis isn't from just a faction. It's from a clear majority.

  45. My only question would be, if Purdue is such a great and wonderful job, why would an alumnus of the school leave it for such a middle-of-the-road Big 12 program?

  46. Volcoholic says:

    Here's the rub. You judged an entire fan base by the first knee-jerk comments to a new hire. When we first hired Pearl, I took the same "Wait and see" stand I take with all new hires. Pearl worked out for us until the sad ending. Coach Martin is the new head bball coach, long live Cuonzo! I for one will support him until he is no longer our coach.

    • You make a good point. Mostly, I was chastising those who immediately called it a bad hire or who seemed closed-minded to 'Zo. I am perfectly fine with "wait and see." Heck. Tom Crean has been in Bloomington for three years, done some great things, but we're all still in a bit of a "wait and see" mode until the Ws come. So that I'm fine with – just give him a chance, and it certainly seems like you are.

    • raymondvols says:

      Enter text right here! im with you volcoholic i also just waited and seen ,but i think martin will be the reason harris stays and really dont know about scotty ,,you never know which scotty shows up to play,if he leaves im sure it would be over seas i think,he be better off coming back to only help his self more,because he aint all that yet,,harris first half looks like a star ?then 2 half goes cold,and seems to me bruce and the team would get up by 10 or 20 points ,hed start sub or taking out the kids thats hot ,never could figure that out ,,but go vols and lets all get be hind martin i like what ive read and seen ready for tip off already ,

  47. CycleDaveTN says:

    I'll admit, I had the typical reaction you write about when I heard the news. Who? followed by What? and Why? But then I began to read with an open mind. The more I read about Cuonzo Martin, the more I like what the future holds for our program. He seems like a solid man and a solid coach, just what our program needs at this time!

    Good luck coach! This Vol fan is a Cuonzo Martin fan now also!!!

  48. TennesseeTodd says:

    As with most fan bases, usually the most ignorant(travis) are the loudest. I for one applaud the hire and will support Coach Martin through the good times and the bad times. Recruiting in the SEC east will be tough, but I do believe he will enjoy tons of success by the third year. As other posters have said, we have world class facilities, so the recipe for success is there for CM to take advantage of. In the future, Vol fans may not even remember BP's name.

    • Yep. I did not realize the extent of Tennessee's facilities and arena, but clearly they have invested big time $$$ in their basketball program. That will certainly help Cuonzo, who I think should be able to recruit very well, especially if he has maintained ties in Indiana and can pull a kid or two out of the Hoosier state every now and then.

  49. TexasseeVol says:

    Please understand this: Bruce Pearl was a great ambassador for our program and he took it to heights not before seen. It is a hard act to follow and almost ANYONE not in the Final 4 would be a disappointment to many Vol fans. That said, realize that Tennessee is not primarily a basketball fan base and we don't keep up with the lesser-known entities to be excited about them. In fact, I was THOROUGHLY disappointed when Bruce Pearl was hired. I was CONVINCED that Mark Few should be our next HC. So this Pearl guy had one tournament run? Nah. Get us Few! Now I see how much Pearl (his recent troubles aside) brought to the table.

    And even football. You should have seen the venom on Twitter & Facebook a year ago. Derek Dooley? Who is that?! I was disgusted. I live in Texas and was ASHAMED to have to defend his hiring to the rabid TU fans who LOVE to tell me about the "Real UT". To them, the hiring showed we were a lower-eschalon program than them. Now, I am all about Derek Dooley. I think he was a tremendous, forward-thinking hire. I also enjoyed pointing out to the Texas folks that Dooley had his kids in a bowl game while the Horns sat home for the Bowl Season.

    All that to say, Tennessee has an emotional fan base that has been repeatedly kicked in the groin by our athletic department over the past 5 years. It seems as though anything that COULD go wrong, did. The only bright spot was a guy named Bruce Pearl and his suddenly notable basketball team. Cuonzo has an uphill PR climb to get fans excited, but as we learn more, we will change the way we think about him.

    And PLEASE find someone else to follow on Twitter that you use as the mouthpiece of the Vol Nation. I LOVE reading Travis's clever, witty, shock-jock tweets. But the heartbeat of Tennessee he is not. He is a guy that gets paid to keep people tuned in. Period. There are LOTS of great journalists out there who are better representative of our fanbase's thinking. Be glad to give you their handles if you wish.

    Thanks for the enlightening article. I've reposted it for other fans to read. I, too, have heard great things about Martin. Have a friend here in Texas that went to Purdue with him who now declares his allegiance to Tennessee Basketball because of that one man. That is a BIG deal to me.

    I look forward to hearing more from you about Martin as this new chapter unfolds. Thanks!

    GO VOLS!

    • Thanks for the reply and for the thorough assessment of you thoughts and opinions. As for Travis, I've never listened to his show and certainly not follow Tennessee sports closely – and I've realized from the many comments here that there is a loud portion of the fanbase who does necessarily appreciate his opinions (to put it mildly). I'll follow the Vols now that Cuonzo is there because I want to see him succeed. I'd love the handles of some other people to follow. Feel free to post them here.

  50. denganzenabend says:

    I would like to add one more dimension to this. UT fans are angry at Mike Hamilton. When I found out about this hire last night, I was shocked. I didn't like the timing of the hire, and I didn't like the small-name coach. My reaction was much like others, "Who??" But my facebook post wasn't about Coach CM, it was about Hamilton. Everything he does at this University is a slap in the face.
    Having said that, my initial shock has worn off and I am loving the things I'm hearing about Martin. Thank you for this article (minus the parts where you bashed UT fans). I have reposted it for my friends to read.

    • Thank you! And i have eaten some of the words regarding UT fans that have proven to be not quite as true – I've been SHOCKED by the passion and knowledge that I've seen from UT fans since this post went up, and it was only my own Big Ten arrogance that led me think it wouldn't be there. As I said above in the updates to the post, I think we all learned a little something here, and that's what blogging/conversing on the Internet is all about.

  51. Great to hear!

  52. Good article on Coach Martin.

    A few comments from a Tennessee fan:
    1) I appreciate Tennessee being referred to as an "unethical football school" by a fan of an unethical basketball school.

    2) The fan reaction to this is very frustrating. Coach Martin's name had come up in a few articles or message board posts in broad "these guys could all be possible hirable coaches" terms, but he wasn't on Tennessee's public radar at all. I think that's part of the reason for the fan reaction. My initial reaction was "WTF?", of course, but more because his name hadn't really been linked with Tennessee, and I didn't know that much about him. As information replaced this reaction, I began to like it more and more. Another reason for the fan reaction around here is that Bruce Pearl pretty much owned the town, and many people can't believe he was fired despite all the damning nonsense he was up to.

    .

    • 1) You are right. We are not far removed from our own unethical history – but not sure what that has to do with anything. You do, we do…hell it won't be long before damn near every school has violations/issues in their past. It sickens me because I always wanted to IU to be better than that, but we proved just as susceptible as anyone else to the blinding desire to win.

      2) I'm hearing lots of people say that regarding not knowing Martin, saying WTF, and then liking him more and more. That is one reason I wanted to get this article out immediately and stayed up late writing it. I had a feeling that the fan reaction I was seeing was because people just didn't know Cuonzo's story, and since I've written about him before, I thought I had something useful to add. Hopefully that's proven true.

      3) Point taken…over and over again in these comments!

      4) You are probably right, and I probably did undersell the job a bit. I think specifically with respect to Martin it could be a stepping stone job if the right Big Ten job came open or if the fan reaction I saw last night was representative of what he'll face. Who knows about the first part, but it's clear the second part isn't the case. It ultimately comes down to winning, and I think he'll win, so I would not be shocked to see him be there for 15-20 years.

      Thanks for the comment!

  53. 3) Clay Travis speaks for the mindless rabble. I find him entertaining at times, but when he tries to pose as a journalist, he fails miserably.

    4) I think you sell the Tennessee job a little short when you call it a stepping stone job. Coach Martin may well move on someday because everybody has different career goals and places they'd like to be, but have you been down here for a basketball game recently? With the renovations to Thompson-Boling Arena, it's been said it's one of the best on-campus facilities in the land, and one of the best practice facilities in the land as well, and finished 3rd in attendance in the country this season. Obviously we're not Duke, Kansas, UNC, or even Indiana, but there's no reason it can't be a place where a guy has long-term continued success. Throughout history we've been 2nd fiddle in the SEC to Kentucky

  54. Thanks for the great article on our new head coach. It is much appreciated. All tenn fans are not against him. I watched a u-tube of him recieving coach of year award and I seen what I thought was a very humble human being who knew what life was about. That video alone won me over to his side. I believe we are getting a top flight man and coach. I have been a tenn fan since the ray mears era and looking forward to where coach Martin will take this program. Welcome aboard Coach .

  55. Good point. I remember Lofton. Good player to have around for a new coach.

  56. "All I can do is laugh and say good luck sir." That's how I felt when watching Steven Pearl play offense.

  57. Brian Feeney says:

    Clay Travis DOES NOT speak for Vol fans (though I am pretty sure he thinks he is).

  58. Posters on the website volsbitch.com have started threads with subjects asking if he was well-spoken, stating he must have a huge dick, and calling him the N word. One post was simply titled "WE HIRED A N", where N was the N word.

    That's the pride of Tennessee right there

    Best of luck to Coach Martin and Pearl.

    • Oh my. That's just disgusting and sad. I figured there would be at least some of that, but I hope it never gets to Cuonzo. That's just so unnecessary and ignorant.

      • Not all people are racist jerks! For God's sake…people take UT basketball and football way to seriously! Thanks Jerod for saying it is sad and disgusting.

    • Yeah, good job on giving publicity to them. You're probably the one posting that stuff, and just trying to get attention. How else would you know about it?

    • This is an ADVERSTISEMENT for volsbitch.com, nothing more. That site is not to be taken seriously, there are no rules and nothing you cant say on there considered over the top. The clown that posted this is just trying to draw attention to the site. Pretty sad.

  59. Your article speaks to fans who are quick to judge, and yet you so so quickly judged our fan base. I accept your step back and think that is very gutsy of you to do so, but perhaps the next time you try to write a piece of readable journalism you will realize that social media networks are not the best places to go to find INFORMED opinions. Perhaps start with VolQuest or other subscription sites where people pay to be informed in an open and honest forumn as opposed to those who will spit the first words that will come out of there mouth. The Tennessee fan base is one that has been screwed in more than one way in the past few years and are hostile. We are tired of confusion and having a leader who has lied to us multiple time(AD Mike Hamilton) before you bash an entire fanbase give a group that's been through a lot a little time to grieve and ask questions before you insult us for not recognizing a good coach. We're all vol and if you think this guy is jumping ship for the Big 10 in a few years then I don't want him. Anybody that would rather live West Lafyatte, Indiana over knoxville, TN for the same money is outright insane in my opinion and I want people that believe in this program. I appreciate the good things you had to say about our new coach, but insulting others earns you no credit when twitter is your source of opinion. P.S. it may just be me but I bet Stephen Pearl isnt exactly the most non-biased opinion since his DAD was our former coach.

    • Josh, fair points. Let's be clear about one thing though: what I wrote above is not an attempt at "journalism". It's a blog post meant to be a) honest and b) inspire conversation. Mission accomplished. I felt like I got a decent cross-section of the Vol fans base reaction last night, but I certainly have found out since writing that there is a much more measured, intelligent faction out there than I thought, and I'm glad so many have spoken up. One thing we'll always do around here is admit when we're wrong about something. As I've commented over and over, Tennessee fans have surprised me in a positive way with their reaction to this piece.

      As for Bruce Pearl's son, this is what I said immediately after including his tweet: "The second one is Travis retweeting Bruce Pearl’s son, and I think we can all understand why Pearl’s son would feel like criticizing the hire." So yes – I agree that he's biased and said as much.

      And as for Cuonzo wanting to go to West Lafayette, who knows. That is all speculation because it is his alma mater. But I don't think you could ever fault a guy for wanting to go home. And it's not even necessarily an indictment of Tennessee as being a worse job than Purdue – and in fact, with Purdue's unwillingness to pay market value for coaches, the UT job may very prove to be better once the clouds surrounding it are gone – although I do think Purdue's history and tradition and being located in a state where basketball is clearly #1 does make Purdue, in general, a better job.

      But we'll see. I know that Zo will be 100% committed to Tennessee and will be as good if not better than any other option they could find. Hamilton has generally proven himself to be an idiot and negligent, so I can understand the frustration, but I do think he got this one right.

  60. "zero agenda" hahahahaha! You simply wanted to trash the minority of TN fans. There are more of us out there that don't post stupid tweets and on message boards! If you look at the attendance for home games, both football and basketball, then you would understand that you are trashing a very vocal minority, and they do not speak for all TN fans at all! Everyone I have talked to is excited about him coming and we realize that we are not a destination job, yet! BP did his work to at least let it be known that we can be a good basketball school in harmony with being a tremendous football school. I believe that Cuonzo will see that eventually, once the vocal minority sees what he can do with tremendous assets at his disposal. Who knows, we'll see in a couple to three years whether he is what you and I think and the vocal minority believes he is not!

    • Well, I guess I did have an agenda: to passionately express my support for Cuonzo Martin in the hopes that his new fans would see what even Indiana fans think of him!

      But no, my purpose was not to trash Tennessee fans – it just came out that way because the only reaction I saw initially was negative. I've gone out of my to explain how overwhelmingly different the response has been since I posted the article. But the point was to laud Zo, and that definitely came across, which is good.

    • lonnie hanks says:

      tremendous football school? really livin in the past must b good i need to try it

  61. hawk 267 says:

    Yall better start lovin basketbll cause tenn football has seen its peak great job on firing a coach after going to the conf champ game the previous year for lameo kiffin ha how did that turn out. have fun come sept. tremendous football school that prob wnt beat vandy

  62. Steven Pearl. Showing a total lack of class with his Tweet. The apple doesn't far fall the tree.

    • Oh, cut Steven some slack. I don't think his since deleted tweet was directed negatively toward Coach Martin at all. I think he was laughing & wishing him good luck with the AD Hamilton. The one who promised the fan base & his father as recently as the end of February that he'd be our coach even if suspended for a year. Whether that decision was taken out of his hands we may never know, but if Steven is bitter toward Mike Hamilton, I can't say that I blame him. It's hard to be objective toward ones father.

  63. I am a TN fan and I enjoyed reading what you had to say about Coach Martin as a coach. I support him and think it is a decent hire. But you also used this article to rip TN athletic programs and the fans. Some quotes from the article:

    "Tennessee just lucked into a smart, hungry, classy, tough young coach who can save its ass and rebuild its program in the wake of Bruce Pearl’s ignominious demise."

    "‘Zo will have used his success in Knoxville as a stepping stone to a better job, probably in the Big Ten."

    "For an athletic department that has often lost its way over the last decade in choosing to cut corners and compromise ethics in the name of winning"

    "Like he’d even think about a job at an unethical football school."

    "Tennessee fans, this may come as a shock to your elitist sensibilities, but you have proven tonight that you don’t deserve Cuonzo Martin"

    These are just a few examples that i am talking about. Side comments like these seriously hurt your credibility in my eyes. I hope you are right about him as a coach.
    Go Vols!

  64. UTFanInCA says:

    Another UT fan here.

    I think Ryan's comments reflect more of the typical reaction (including my own) than Clay Travis's do. I enjoyed your article and appreciate the info on Coach Martin, but you need to understand that the UT fan base has been dealing with a lot this year, including the loss of a beloved coach who had more success than any in the program's history. So I hope that you can appreciate when we hired a largely unknown commodity in Martin, that there is going to be a certain amount of skepticism because he is unproven at a major conference level (and despite your trashing of the UT program, we have great fan support and are arguably second to Kentucky in terms of tradition in the SEC historically).

    You also need to appreciate that the whole Pearl saga left such a bad taste in everyone's mouth because it dragged out so long, the violations were not what got him fired(the lying was) and that no one short of Coach K would have been seen as a good hire, even though realistically UT was not going to land a big name hire, especially at what we are paying Martin – $1.3M/year. On this last point, there is also frustration that the university didn't go after a bigger name and pay the dollars (we have been top 5 nationally in attendance the last few years, so the $$ are there)…UT AD Mike Hamilton is notoriously cheap and some of the venting you are seeing is at him, and not at Martin.

    I do appreciate the thoughtful perspective on Coach Martin, though, and it does give me hope that he can have success at UT in the long run.

  65. I am a huge Tenn. fan in both football and basketball. I go back to the Ernie and Bernie days pf basketball. Bruce Pearl was the best thing that had happened to our basketball program in a long time, until he lied to the NCAA about a couple of secondary violations that to this day , I still do not understand why he lied. WIth that said, I also was no sure who Martin was when I first heard we hired him at 7PM last night. However, after doing some research, hearing his press conference and reading your article, I am acutally looking forward to him leading our basketball program back to the Elite 8 and beyond, where Coach Pearl had taken us. WIth that said, I do not appreciate some of your comments regarding UT athletics. THis is a very, very passionate school when it comes to not only football but basketball as well. If Coach Martin wins, he will be beloved just as Bruce Pearl was. I think he will enjoy having 20,000 screaming fans supporting him when he beats KY!

  66. amy anderson says:

    Vol fans think their UT deserves the best coaches money can buy. They also think money WILL buy that coach. When it doesn't happen, they get bent all out of shape. The majority love Pearl and most could not care less what he did, short of paying off refs and I doubt that would even bother them. The very idea of choosing a coach from a second tier school is humiliating to them. Pay them no mind. Martin is an uncut gem. He will succeed. No one who has gone through what he has gone through ever gives up. He is going to be the best thing that ever happened to the players on the team. At last they will have to be accountable to him, to the school, and to themselves, which I believe will be something they are not used to. He is a winner in basketball, but more valuable, he is a winner in life. I love him already!!! :p)

  67. AcworthVol says:

    I want to thank you for writing a great piece on Cuonzo Martin. Like most UT fans, I was completely deflated with the announcement of Coach Martin. I do not expect you to understand why. Think about what UT fans have gone through the past few years.

    1) Arguably the 2nd best football coach in our history was fired in 2008 after his second losing season in 4 years.
    2) He is replaced by Lane Kiffin. We were initially excited because of the attention and excitement the hire brought. We have 4 players arrested for a robbery attempt in the middle of a 6-7 season.
    3) 4 of our basketball players are arrested on Jan 1st 2010 after defeating Memphis on the road. Drugs and guns were found in the car. Our best player is kicked off the team while the others are suspended for multiple games.
    4) UT responds by beating #1 Kansas following the suspensions.
    5) Kiffin takes the USC job leaving UT in the middle of the night a few weeks before signing day. The campus looked like that square in Egypt that night.
    6) UT hires Derrick Dooley as the UT football HC. Was at La Tech and had a losing record.
    to be continued…

  68. Acworthvol says:

    7) The basketball team rolls into the tournament but loses by 1 point in the Elite Eight to MSU.
    8) Just before the first football game, UT announces the violations committed by Pearl and the staff. UT vows to support Pearl and expects him to stay on as coach for many years.
    9) UT "wins" 2 football games during the season that turn into losses. Not 1 but 2 Games!
    10) In an unprecedented move, the SEC suspends Pearl 8 SEC games. This hurts Pearl's case because it is brought up every game and discussed non-stop.
    11) Despite beating Pitt and Nova, we finish the season barely making the NCAA tournament
    12) 2 days before our 1st round game, our AD does an interview and states he doesn;t know if Pearl will survive. He completely undermines the coach and the team.
    13) UT loses by 30 to Michigan in the first round.
    14) Pearl is fried the following Monday.

    We are a fractured and fragile fan base. 99% wanted our AD fired and Pearl kept. Many fans were looking for our AD to open the vault and make a big splash hire. Instead, we hired Cuonzo Martin. Most negative coments have been aimed at the AD not Martin. Please give us more than a few hours to judge our reaction.

  69. UofTNVol says:

    The entire Tennessee fanbase is suffering from the sports fan equivilant of post-traumatic stress disorder. It all started right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iKTr-lhIn0 when it became clear to most reasonable Vols that Phil had to go. That fractured the fanbase. Then He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named got the NCAA crawling all over us like a fly on shit. That resulted in the most well-beloved mens basketball coach to ever get fired from any school getting busted for parlaying secondary violation bullshit into NCAA hell. Stir that all up and let it simmer, and you get a fanbase that is completely splintered, stricken with PTSD, and outright bat-shit crazy.

    Thanks for the great read. Many Vols will still be welcoming Coach Zo to the Big Orange Nation, and if you're right about him it will cure all our symptoms.

  70. I know some of this will be a bit repetitive. I'm a UT fan, live in Knoxville. I give to UT with my wallet, heart and soul.

    I was disappointed at first because I had no idea who Cuonzo Martin was. I'm guessing the same could be said of most Oklahome, Georgia Tech and NC State fans…and every other major program who has an opening and who's media had never even mentioned Martin once in any discussion about possible candidates. Martin is on your radar because you're a Purdue guy. So, forgive Tennessee fans like me who's initial reaction was disappointment.

    Coach Martin may fall in love with Tennessee and Knoxville (it's a great place to raise a family too) and be here for decades. Maybe he makes his own mark at his own place, instead of in the Big-10. Maybe he moves on at some point. Who knows. For now, he's my coach and I'm anxious to get to know him. Go Vols!

  71. As for your comments about Purdue being 2X time's better than Tennessee. When fired, Pearl was the 6th highest paid coach in the nation. The Vols have an NBA style arena with the 4th average attendance in America (at over 19,000). ESPN regularly refers to it as one of the best in college basketball. The SEC puts as many or more teams in the NCAA tournament as the Big-10. Students camp out overnight inside the Arena to get the best seats. Last time the Vols and Boilermakers met (2009) it was No. 6 Purdue v. No. 9 Tennessee, with Purdue winning 72-71. Matt Painter said it was one of the best games he'd been a part of. So, 2X better? That's way off base.

    Yeah, we also put about 105,000 in Neyland Stadium for football. College athletics is a way of life in the South, particularly in Knoxville. Tennessee fans will support basketball. And, as they get to know Coach Martin, I expect they will support him too.

  72. raymondvols says:

    ive got to agree with you,im tenn vols fan by heart..and it seemed to me that bruce just lost his handle with these kid's this year .almost like they just do what ever i question alot of his sub this year.we get up by 10 or 15 then hed pull the hot shooters out and here we go couldnt score for 7 to 8 mins at time .i think new coach will take us to next leval ,im sad bruce is gone dont get me wrong .but hiring him not knowing ,the unknown is what i think scare's people here,but im standing behind him,i just hope we keep the 2 we done signed and harris and hopson comes back,that will help this coming season,bottom line is we cant beat fla,,kentucky,,we beat them this coming season will only help him out .thank you good artical

  73. When Bruce Pearl came to UT we had the largest empty arena in the nation . $10,000 seats sat empty, the athletic dept. continued to spend like drunken sailors. This last year UT had the 4th largest attendence in the nation.What will happen no one can say, but I'll be there to see ! I've read a lot of stupid comments by people who DONT know anything about Tennessee. I believe changes should be made in the athletic dept. that allowed these problems to exsit in ALL sports.

  74. 4vols4life says:

    As a former collegiate B-baller & avid UT fan/supporter, I thank you for your article and interest it has stimulated. it's been a wild ride on the UT rollercoaster taking a toll on the fan base. Lots of the early negative comments fly from rectums as those fans keep their brains in that region. All schools have them and must realize they do not speak for the majority that actually support their team.
    Coach Pearl did great things as an ambaassador and brought the excitement of winning to UT basketball. But to be a championship team, you need leadership on the floor and it takes a man of character pushing and teaching to install character into the athletes. I think we have found such a man who has the compassion and experience needed to install into his players. You can have all the "one & dones" or all the McDonalds AA bluechippers with their baggage. Without leadership and character, teams will always fall short of the mark. I feel more confident than ever that Coach Zo will take this program to the highest level developing the character to make the Vols champions on a regular basis. Go with Zo and Go Vols!

  75. Coach Martin had a one winning conference record. His three year record at Missouri State is worst than the previous coach's last three years. His teams are consistently dull, witness 158th in the country in scoring. Coach Martin may be a quality individual. I hope he is and I hope he finds success. But frankly, he is the least appealing, least experienced coach in the SEC and that does not bode well for Tennessee basketball.

  76. HoustonVol says:

    Thank you for the good article, up to the UT bashing in the end. However it is a bit easy to bash my school right now. I think one of the reasons UT fans reacted so bad to the hire is no one was expecting anyone to be hired that fast. We had all of the pie in the sky dream coaches that were being batted around by the media. Usually when a coach and school are talking – there is chatter; like Painter and Missouri. So this announcement being leaked out on a Sunday night before the tourney was even over caught everyone off guard. The you had the whole WHO?!? factor. It was like your best friend announcing that he his getting married and you did not even know he was dating someone.

    Now that I have had a couple of days to learn about 'Zo, I like him. As much as I hate to say it; Hamilton made a good hire. Reading about him, his history and personality; I am glad that he is heading up the UT program and I hope that he is our coach for a long time. I cannot think of better coach that UT would have been able to hire, especially considering the drama surrounding the program right now.

  77. Here it is March Madness and Jerod knew of that he spoke. Martin is the guy for Tennessee.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Jerod at MidwestSportsFans has written an emotionally charged blog post on Coach Martin (See here) that actually has me somewhat fired up about the guy. As I've stated before, if we had hired the [...]

  2. [...] Another Perspective about the Cuonzo Martin From a Big 10 Blogger and Indiana Alum. Cuonzo Martin Hired as Tennessee Head Basketball Coach – Slam Dunk Hire Despite Fan Reaction [...]

  3. [...] What an Outsider Thinks Cuonzo Martin Hired as Tennessee Head Basketball Coach – Slam Dunk Hire Despite Fan Reaction [...]

  4. [...] Cuonzo Martin Hired as Tennessee Head Basketball Coach – Slam Dunk Hire Despite Fan Reaction This article makes my point better than I ever could……… [...]

  5. [...] This story looks at the early scrutiny already coming Martin’s way. (Midwest Sports) [...]

  6. [...] Sports: Martin a Slam Dunk Hire Cuonzo Martin Hired as Tennessee Head Basketball Coach – Slam Dunk Hire Despite Fan Reaction Long article stating reason why VN should be pumped for the Martin era in Knoxville. [...]

  7. [...] For those who don't know about Martin I've attached a good article. Cuonzo Martin Hired as Tennessee Head Basketball Coach – Slam Dunk Hire Despite Fan Reaction [...]

  8. [...] AA's blog on Basilio's site had this link. I really enjoyed reading the perspective. Very thorough. Cuonzo Martin Hired as Tennessee Head Basketball Coach – Slam Dunk Hire Despite Fan Reaction [...]

Speak Your Mind