After leading the Tennessee Volunteers on an improbable run to the Sweet 16 amidst a lot of criticism from the fanbase, head coach Cuonzo Martin is making a wise choice by leaving Tennessee to become the new head coach of the California Golden Bears. It’s an upward move for Martin that will allow him to achieve higher levels of success than he could have accomplished if he had stayed at Tennessee.
Martin came to Tennessee three years ago in a tough position after the school was forced to fire Bruce Pearl, and he’s done a commendable job, culminating in a spot in the NCAA Tournament and a trip to the Sweet 16. Up until the Vols reached the tournament and made their way to the second weekend of the tournament, Martin was under extreme pressure from the fanbase. Many were calling for his job which was completely unwarranted, considering his three-year run and the situation he walked into in Knoxville.
Martin didn’t deserve such harsh criticism, nor does he need to stick around and receive more of it once the excitement of Tennessee’s postseason run wears off. If he stayed at Tennessee, Martin would likely never be able to get out of Pearl’s shadow, especially with Pearl returning to the SEC with the Auburn Tigers next season. Martin is better off getting away from that environment and away from a school where he has to compete with both the football program and the women’s basketball program.
At California, Martin will be in a better conference, and instead of taking over a program in turmoil, as he did at Tennessee, he takes over a program with a stable foundation, with Mike Montgomery taking the Golden Bears to the NCAA Tournament four times in the last six years. The Cal basketball program has never been in better shape, and now Martin can build off of that, put his own stamp on Cal and take the program to new heights without having to deal with the pressure from the fanbase that drove him out of Tennessee to greener pastures.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.