Cuonzo Martin Georgia Tech

Cuonzo Martin to Georgia Tech? NOPE.

The rumors about Cuonzo Martin to Georgia Tech were flying.

The idea of Cuonzo Martin leaving California after two seasons to jump to Georgia Tech should raise a red flag for Georgia Tech, but Georgia Tech Athletic Director Mike Bobinski wants that splashy name hire even if the man is going to bail on him within four seasons because of mutual discord.  This does not bode well for them, but this audience is more inclined to enjoy the future problems to be brought on by this potential Wizard of Techwood.

Cuonzo Martin was a coaching name is straight out of left field.  After being rejected by Bryce Drew, Jeff Capel and Chris Mack, Georgia Tech is the biggest coaching vacancy in College Basketball and Mike Bobinski can afford to take his time.  He was rumored to have been speaking with a coach from a High Major Conference yesterday and now it is revealed that it may have been Cuonzo Martin.

Consider these things with Cuonzo Martin rumored to bolt for Midtown Atlanta:

  1. Cuonzo Martin earns only $1.188 Million per year.
  2. Then this gem:  How does Cuonzo Martin coach for two years in Berkeley without a signed contract?  This is about crazy as Kentucky’s Memorandum of Understanding with Billy Gillispie.  They are operating on the terms in his initial offer sheet!
  3. Aside from the change in Athletic Directors, was there another reason why Cuonzo Martin would not formally sign a contract with the University of California at Berkeley?
  4. Martin has vacancies on his current staff that have to be filled:  One assistant was fired for sexual harassment and another assistant, Tracy Webster, is a strong candidate to fill the Wisconsin-Milwaukee vacancy.
  5. Exodus of talent:  Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb and Tyrone Wallace are all expected to leave.
  6. The sexual harassment investigation:

Martin could be looking for a way out of Cal, as he is under campus review to see if he “fulfilled his responsibility as a mandatory reporter of sexual harassment allegations against assistant coach Yann Hufnagel,” per Letourneau.  

Cuonzo Martin does not stay long.

Scared about the prospect of Cuonzo Martin coaching at Georgia Tech?  Don’t be!  His track says that he cannot stay in one place for more than three seasons.  (He’s also not going to take the job there either.  What an article killer.)

His longest tenure was as an assistant under Gene Keady from 2000 to 2008.  Cuonzo Martin jumped from Missouri State to Tennessee in the wake of Bruce Pearl lying to NCAA investigators about a cookout at his home and a problematic 2010-11 season in Knoxville that was Pearl’s most ineffective season.  Cuonzo Martin was supposed to be a very different coach than Pearl and he even was viewed as a Dennis Felton-like hire by Tennessee.  Perceptions of Martin’s style were of a more disciplinarian coach that was not afraid to play a grinder of a Basketball Game.  Cuonzo Martin’s calling card was and still is defense.

Cuonzo Martin’s final season at Tennessee was wrought with comparisons to his predecessor, Bruce Pearl.  Tennessee fans felt that the NCAA took away something special from them.  The feeling would become even more uneasy at the end of the 2013-14 season.  Martin was not able to get Tennessee back to the NCAA Tournament and was on track for possibly a third straight season that would be a quest to get to Madison Square Garden.  The Petition to Bring Back Bruce Pearl created by Tennessee fans was a public relations nightmare.  The passion and pride that the Tennessee fans had for their Men’s Basketball Team turned to discord and discontent.

It took a major effort for Martin’s last Tennessee squad to reach the NCAA Tournament.  The Vols needed to win five of their last six regular season games and win a game against South Carolina in the quarterfinals to earn a #11 seed and a trip to Dayton for a First Four game against Iowa.  That Tennessee team would reach the Sweet 16 and lose in controversial fashion to Michigan.  The critics should have been quieted as Martin was able to do something that Pearl was able to do with his teams.  However, Martin left for Berkeley shortly after and took a picture that was not only awkward, but it was the equivalent of an extended middle finger at Big Orange Country.  Martin’s exit implied that there was something wrong with the Tennessee fan base, the media even threw the race issue into the mix.

Interestingly, Tennessee was able to embrace a Jewish Head Basketball Coach and hold him as the “Orange Standard” of coaches, even in deeply Protestant Christian East Tennessee.  Auburn also welcomed Pearl with open arms.  It is something that is completely unimaginable to many outside of the South.

A picture like this is not taken before a press conference.

In Cuonzo Martin’s second season, this past season, at California there were very high expectations.  Two possible NBA Draft Lottery picks with experienced, talented veterans made for a mix that was supposed to be not only dominant, but a sleeper Final Four pick before the season even started!

California was a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament and many thought that they had potential to make a deep run.  These individuals were not familiar with #13 seed Hawai’i in any way.  This was a team that was barely an NCAA Tournament team after a loss at Colorado.  California had only ONE road win (78-72 win in Overtime at Wyoming) until a win at Washington on February 18, 2016.  They followed up this win over Washington with a win over Washington State at Beasley Coliseum.  California went 7-0 in February with 5 wins at Haas Pavilion.  Their performance in February shot them up from a 14-8 team that was 4-5 in conference to the #25 ranked team in the nation.

The first round loss to Hawai’i has also fed into the thought that Cuonzo Martin does not get the most out of his talent much like LSU coach Johnny Jones. 

Sustained success is something that Martin has never accomplished in his career because he voluntarily and prematurely leaves.  He jumps around from job-to-job like a millennial.  Martin has yet to see a freshman that he has recruited graduate from college.  South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin had to dismiss many and even encouraged transfers, but he at least has seen his freshmen recruits become college graduates.

The Negative Talking Points on Cuonzo Martin:

  1. Martin has a reputation as an opportunistic job hopper.
  2. Without “5 Star” talent, he’s incapable of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
  3. With three potential NBA players, he could not get past Hawai’i.
  4. Grinding pace.
  5. Teams need to make late runs in the NCAA Tournament.

Mark Fox vs. Cuonzo Martin:  Mark Fox holds a 3-2 edge.  Fox’s three wins came in Georgia’s worst seasons under Fox.  Unlike Bruce Pearl, Cuonzo Martin never won a game at Stegeman Coliseum.  Cuonzo Martin won the most recent matchup at Thompson-Boling Arena on February 18, 2014 in a game that was hardly contested by Georgia due to much of the team having the flu.  Mark Fox’s team was in such bad condition that they did not even have shootaround and practice, they instead played hide and go seek in the arena.

Georgia’s staff already knows how to handle Cuonzo Martin on the court and without Michael Adams in the picture, Georgia’s recruiting efforts against Martin should to continue to improve.  And after all this…

The search continues, at least there’s a full story here.  This is what happens when news breaks late and an article just sits in the buffer.

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