Following an improbable run to the Sweet Sixteen, a gut wrenching loss to Michigan, and a season full of criticism and disappointment, Tennessee's Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart is in the process of looking for a new basketball coach.
After three seasons as the Vols head coach, according to multiple reports and sources Cuonzo Martin has resigned to take the head coach job at Cal. In three years, Martin led Tennessee to a 63-41 record, including a 32-20 record in the SEC.
With his most experienced and his most talented team, Martin and the Vols struggled throughout the regular season and found themselves a bubble team and ended up being one of the last four teams in the tournament. The low point for the Vols came with a 68-65 overtime loss at Texas A&M. Stemming from that loss, chatter of Bruce Pearl and could he return to the Vols grew greatly. The former head coach was never a candidate to return to Knoxville, but that didn't stop fans, and some media members from touting Pearl to return to Rocky Top.
Martin challenged his team during their run to the tournament and run in the tournament to ignore the chatter of criticism about them. However, Martin acknowledged he was aware of what was being said.
"I think the thing for me, and my mom taught me this early in life and I didn't understand it at the time, she just said if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," Martin said. "That's why I'm quiet a lot of the time. It's a sport and it's a business at the end of the day. We talk about guys going to school and getting degrees and all that, and for me, that's very important. But, it seems for some that the bottom line is winning ballgames and there's nothing wrong with that. I think as a coach you have to keep a perspective, what's your goal, what's your plan for all your guys. Not every one of our guys are going to be pros, but they can be successful in their careers. That's my job to help them with that. I don't get consumed with what goes on because it's time and energy wasted. If you can't control it, why worry about it? At the end of the day, I don't care how successful you are. Some people won't like you for whatever reason, so why waste time on it? One thing I've always lived by, unless they change, there will only be one body in that casket when I'm gone. That's the most important thing."
Martin was in line to get an extension and a raise after his team's run through the tournament, a run that earned him a $75,000 bonus. With his departure, Martin and Cal according to Martin's contract will owe the University $1.3 million. It's unclear at this point if Martin owes the full amount or if Tennessee has negotiated a settlement on that figure.