In the post-Bruce Pearl era the Tennessee Volunteers have not exactly set the college basketball world on fire. In fact, they have done the contrary, not making an NCAA Tournament appearance since the brash former Vols coach left because of repeatedly lying to the NCAA. When the Tennessee athletic department were forced to move on from the Pearl scandal they decided to hire something called a Cuonzo Martin.
Martin was a former NBA player who had modest success coaching in college before he joined the Vols program. The previous year before he became the new Tennessee coach, Martin let the Missouri State Bears to a 26-9 overall record, pretty impressive. However, his previous two seasons with the Bears weren’t exactly as successful, 35-32 over that span and only postseason appearances were in the NIT and the prestigious CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament(A real thing. You may know it as the CIT).
Why in the world Tennessee thought a man whose previous coaching experience wasn’t humorously successful with a lower program would work out in the SEC is still mind-boggling. That’s not to say Martin is a bad coach or one that can’t eventually help the program turn back around, but athletic departments usually key on coaches that have had NCAA Tournament runs with fourth-tier programs, not one whose largest success is getting bounced in the second round of the NIT.
If Martin doesn’t work out there will be two partial parties to blame. Pearl, for putting the university in the predicament to move on from him because of his lies. And the athletic department, for thinking that a guy whose biggest claim to fame as a coach is NIT and CIT glory.
Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone