Feb 19, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers head coach Cuonzo Martin during the first half against the LSU Tigers at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee won 82 to 72. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Volunteers Basketball: Should Cuonzo Martin Be Fired?


Cuonzo Martin has taken a lot of criticism from Vol fans lately, due to his basketball team playing in the NIT for the second consecutive season.

Is the criticism justified?

Tennessee fans got used to winning under former head coach Bruce Pearl. During Pearl’s six seasons the Vols were 145-61. The Volunteers also made the NCAA tournament each of those six seasons, including a run to the Elite Eight in 2010.

Since the Pearl/Martin comparisons are inevitable, we might as well make some of them here.

In Bruce’s Pearl’s last season as head coach, the Volunteers compiled a 19-15 record, somehow they sneaked into the NCAA tournament as a 14-loss team, then proceeded to get blown out by Michigan 75-45.

In the very next season, Martin’s first with the Vols, Tennessee compiled a record of, you guessed it, 19-15. Only this time Tennessee was relegated to NIT play.

This season the Volunteers are 20-12, a record that probably would’ve gotten a Bruce Pearl led team into the tournament, in fact it practically did in 2009. That season the Vols were 21-12 and made the tournament as a 9 seed.

Now I’m in no way suggesting that there is some sort of bias towards either Martin or Pearl, that isn’t the case.

The criteria is different then it was when Pearl was coaching Tennessee. Martin’s team this season most likely would’ve made the tournament three years ago, it should have made the tournament this year.

At some point there are things that are of the control of coaches.

To Judge Cuonzo Martin based solely on tournament appearances isn’t the greatest indicator of success. Yes, making the tournament is the goal, but it’s not the only barometer of which you judge a coach. In fact some coaches make the tournament and still get fired.

Case in point — Dino Gaudio

The current ESPN college basketball analyst was the coach at Wake Forest for three seasons after the unfortunate passing of the very successful former Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser. Gaudio led the Demon Deacons to the tournament in two straight seasons. After the second tournament appearance he was fired. Wake Forest then hired a coach with a career losing record in Jeff Bzdelik (very Derek Dooley like we know). So far in Bzdelik’s three seasons as head coach at Wake Forest he has compiled a 33-59 record. 

Gaudio’s record after three seasons — 61-31.

At this point Wake Forest fans would absolutely be enthralled to have Gaudio and his success back. The very same fans that wanted him gone.

Tennessee is in a similar situation that Wake Forest was in three seasons ago. Cuonzo Martin is following a very successful coach in Bruce Pearl, and he hasn’t attained the results fans became accustomed to under Pearl.

Exactly like Dino Gaudio.

Now the Volunteers have a choice to make, and Wake Forest has already laid out the road map for the Vols.

If Tennessee were to let Martin go — what then?

They could end up with a Jeff Bzdelik type coach, then everyone would be clamoring to bring Cuonzo Martin back to Knoxville.

Vol Fans should learn from the Demon Deacon’s mistakes. Staying the course with Martin is the right answer.

Being left out of the tournament when you’re a 20 win team isn’t an indictment on Martin as a coach, it’s an indictment on all that’s wrong with the NCAA. Everyone knows the Vols were a tournament team this year. It’s unfortunate that the decision of one committee to not include Tennessee in the NCAA tournament could alter one man’s career.

Stay the course Tennessee, Cuonzo Martin is a quality coach and Wake Forest found out the hard way, there aren’t too many of those floating around out there.

 

Tags: Basketball Featured Popular Tennessee Volunteers Wake Forest Demon Deacons

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryan.wooden.75 Ryan Wooden

    No.

  • delashmit

    Absolutely NOT!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/zach.ragan.779 Zach Ragan

    I agree

  • Ryan Hargrove

    Lets remember Bruce Pearl was a liar, and a cheat.

    • Joseph Parton

      Huh? He got fired for inviting some kids to a BBQ at his home. While it was a violation and he lied about it initially, he came back shortly after and told the truth on that.

      With that said, what other violations did he commit? How does the above make him a cheat?

      He was a scapegoat. UT made a HUGE mistake letting him go. With that said, I am willing to still give him a chance. Let’s see how next season goes. If he doesn’t make the tournament, then they should hire Pearl back. He will be eligible and wants to come back. Pearl was the best thing that ever happened to UT basketball!

  • Depressed Deac

    Wake Forest Fan here, I really really really hope you guys fire hime. We will gladly take him off of your hands here in Winston Salem.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brian.stratton.7796 Brian Stratton

      Another Wake fan here. We will trade you Jeff Bzdelik, Wait Chapel, the business school, the law school, and a box Jujy Fruits for Cuonzo Martin . Hell, we would trade for Steve Martin at this point.

  • 848484

    THE QUESTION ISN’T ABOUT GETTING INTO THE NCAA – MY OPINION. THE QUESTION IS, WHY DOESN’T A COACH CHANGE HIS DEFENSE WHEN THE ONE HE IS USING DOESN’T WORK? IN ADDITION, MOST TEAMS TN HAS HAD PROBLEMS WITH PLAY ZONE DEFENSE. DOES MARTIN PRACTICE PLAYING AGAINST ZONE? WHY CAN’T A COACH STOP A TEAM LIKE MERCER FROM GETTING 60%(?) OF THEIR POINTS IN THE LANE? SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT IN KNOXVILLE.

  • Joseph Parton

    I am willing to give Martin more time. He has NOT been horrible, but he has NOT been stellar either.

    He doesn’t seem to excel at in game coaching adjustments. Overall, he doesn’t seem to be a good strategist. It is a more of pickup game style system.

    When you whine about not getting a NCAA bid, you better have your team up and motivated to play in the NIT. They should have the pride to perform and win the NIT to prove the committee wrong.

    Bruce Pearl got screwed over something very minor compared to what others do in college sports anymore. Hopefully, UT’s current AD can see that and has some foresight. Give Martin another year. If he doesn’t perform well enough then bring Pearl back, because he will be eligible.

    Pearl wants to come back to UT. He is best thing that happened to UT men’s bball. Bottom line is that he will be hired by a major program. UT will get slapped in the face if another SEC team picks him up, which is very possible.

    Martin needs to coach UT to a SEC title next year period. We have talent, but it is NOT performing to the level that it should. If the team can beat Florida and Missouri then nearly beat Georgetown then why can’t the team beat Georgia and Alabama?

    Championship teams beat the teams that they are supposed to. Don’t play down to your competition. Also, play defense!

  • wfusomeday

    As another Wake Forest fan, I must say that there was no plurality of people calling for Gaudio’s firing. In fact, very few wanted Gaudio out. Its ahistorical to depict that “the very same fans” were a majority. Th AD wanted Gaudio gone. And we’re left with the consequences…

  • Jacklail

    The Vols currently have the most talented team they’ve ever put on the floor, but are mired in mediocrity due to the ineffective coaching of Cuonzo. Pearl, or a coach like him, would have the current team on a definite run to the Big Dance this season. Under Cuonzo, the Vols will be lucky to eke out an NIT invite for the third season in a row. Therein lies the difference.