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Live @ Calhoun's Maryville!
Posted: Wednesday, April 16th, 2014, 9:58 AM
What a day in Big Orange Country. Good for Cuonzo Martin! Great for Tennessee. EVERYBODY WINS! If you would've told Dave Hart that Cuonzo Martin was going to walk off campus while UT would be $1.3 million richer, he would've taken it all day long. Cuonzo's program was a sinking ship here and he knew it. The fighter didn't want to stay and fight and that's OK. My star of this whole year is the petition starter. The petition starter lit a fire under this team and under Cuonzo that ultimately gave UT fans one of their best runs in school history! The petition starter became a rallying point for Cuonzo's team and a catalyst in their playing a tougher breed of basketball. The petition starter became a pretext for Cuonzo to jump in the national media when the rest of us who are close to this know the truth. The truth? Cuonzo was a bad fit here from day one. He should've never been hired. He wasn't accomplished enough and he was boring. No offense but he was. In terms of being a great guy. Yes. A beautiful guy who respected ALL he worked around. Cuonzo is a cagey. He knew it was time to scram. He got out ahead of the gun. Now UT is in the literal catbird seat.

I know for a fact, (as I reported on the 3 hour app only show we did yesterday as the news of this broke, download the app NOW and tell a friend. We had calls from all over the country. It was amazing.) that Ben Howland is HEAVILY interested in this job. How do I know? Howland talked to at least 3 people affiliated with Tennessee's program in the first 90 minutes after the news broke. Howland is intrigued. If you're Tennessee and you can get this guy with this bio, you do it! Link

If you look at the Vol Colonel's list of potential candidates below, how can you lose if you're Tennessee. I got this communiqué from an insider in the college sports community last night. 'John Gilbert is going to lead the charge internally for Dave Hart in the search. It's going to help Gilbert get an A.D. job, and it's likely to be an easy search. The college basketball community knows this is a great, not good job. Tennessee basketball fans are not unreasonable. They love their program. Facilities are great. The lowest name on their board will be more accomplished and have a greater upside than Cuonzo.'

This is a WIN WIN WIN! Everybody is going to win. I would trade any of the first 10 potential names on UT's list for Cuonzo Martin 10 out of 10 times.

As for the national media's contention that Tennessee fans are getting what they deserve today, you're right! Tennessee fans are getting an upgrade at head coach. They are getting somebody that will inspire hope in this fan base and somebody who will bring purpose here for the entire basketball season. They will get someone that will connect with the fan base. They will get someone that actually wants to be here.'

The national media types don't get this but Dave Hart had ZERO intention of trying to keep Cuonzo Martin here. Slow playing those negotiations and not overreacting to Tennessee's late season run was deft by Hart! Mike Hamilton would've rolled out the barrels of cash for Cuonzo. Hart knew where this was going. He handled it like a big boy. An offer to $1.8 million per year with a $1 million buyout was more than fair. Great job Dave Hart!

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Vol Colonel
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'First off, I'd like to wish Cuonzo Martin the best. Second, I'd like to say good riddance. It's real simple for me, If you don't want to be the basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, I can promise you, this old Volunteer doesn't want you to be the basketball coach at the University of Tennessee.

I've told you before, I support Tennessee, as far as coaches go, I will support the coach until I cannot support him any longer or until we part ways, no matter how we reach that finality. Once again, certain members of the national media such as Pat Forde and this Dana O'Neil over at ESPN and I'm sure some local guys too, are of the misguided belief that somehow our fan base ran this coach off. They want to bring up that online petition and tell us that we got what we deserved.

I for one, hope we do get what we deserve, (as Tony B just said too) and that's an upgrade at the position of Head Men's Basketball Coach at the University of Tennessee.

Pat Forde wrote that we at Tennessee have an immense level of dysfunction. He goes on to say Cuonzo's successor will be Tennessee's 3rd basketball coach since 2011. He tells us that Butch Jones is our 4th football coach since 2008 and he reminds us that Dave Hart is our 2nd athletic director in the last 3 years. He also brings up Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, Bruce Pearl and his infamous BBQ and says nothing is solid on Rocky Top these days and that we need a reality check.

Well Pat, maybe you and those like you, need a reality check. Correct you are, that this will be our 3rd basketball coach since 2011. Correct again on Butch Jones being our 4th coach since 2008 and you're absolutely correct on Dave Hart being our 2nd A.D in the last 3 years. Here's where Pat and others like him are wrong. There is NO level of dysfunction here and to say nothing is solid on Rocky Top is nothing but a damn lie and if you want to take shots at our fan base, let me remind you of a few things. Over 68,000 Big Orange fans attended our spring football game. We rank in the top 5 in football attendance. We ranked in the top 10 in attendance for our home basketball games again this year. Our fans have been through a lot around here the last few years, that's a given, but the bottom line is, we support our athletic programs and we're damn passionate about it. Nobody here fired Cuonzo Martin, he left to take another job.

We offered him a 2 year contract extension and a 500k raise that would've made his total compensation 1.85 million and with some easy to reach incentives his package was worth 1.9 million per year, just as I reported those figures to be on these very pages, the week we were in Raleigh for the NCAA tournament. I know a lot of people will say Cuonzo took the Tennessee job when nobody wanted it and how we had this dark NCAA cloud hanging over us. Let's make this real clear, he took this job because it was a step up into the big leagues of college basketball and it was a HUGE step up in salary. We paid him over 4 times what he was making at Missouri State, where his total compensation was 300k per year. That 500k raise we offered was 200,000 more than what he made per year just three short years ago. I think we did pretty well by Cuonzo, we certainly gave him and his family financial security and made him a millionaire. Not bad for a guy who had never made the NCAA tourney up until this year.

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Did Cuonzo have it easy here following a beloved coach who took us to 6 straight NCAA's, some sweet 16's and an Elite 8 appearance, not to mention our only #1 ranking in school history?. Obviously, he didn't and no other coach would have either. That's a tough act to follow and we've seen it time and again in college athletics, you don't want to be the guy who follows a coach like that. That would be a tough act for almost anyone to follow. I said back when Cuonzo didn't get or take the Marquette job that I thought there was just too much water under the bridge for him to remain our basketball coach. It was obvious he wasn't happy here or he wouldn't be looking at other jobs.

Tony had been telling me for a couple of months that he had heard Cuonzo and his family weren't happy here. Tony, told me point blank in private conversation that he thought this guy was going to bolt out of here the first chance he got and this was back before the SEC Tourney. I told Tony in return, that a Sweet 16 or better run could change a lot of things and that if he went Sweet 16 or better, we would offer him a raise and extension. Well, bada bing, we were both correct and ultimately Tone hit the bulls eye. Cuonzo is the coach at Cal. I think this is a win, win situation for Tennessee and for Cuonzo Martin and his family. Cuonzo gets to move on and try to find happiness and we get to go out and find a better basketball coach.

I'm not taking a back handed slap at Cuonzo Martin, I believe we will upgrade to a better coach and I'm glad Dave Hart is leading the way on it and gets to hire his own guy. I think Dave Hart is turning out to be a helluva Athletic Director and I have faith in him to go find us a new coach. I don't give a damn about his track record at FSU with basketball hires. That's a complete football school down there in Tallahassee and they don't give a hoot about basketball. When I look at Dave Hart I see a guy who is doing a damn good job here to this point.

He's cleaned up all that waste, that was the women's side of the athletic department. He changed that stupid criteria for jersey retirement so Coach Majors could be honored as he should have been years ago. He's signed a helluva deal with Nike. He hired Butch Jones. He signed a deal to have us play in front of the largest crowd in college football history when we meet Virginia Tech in The Battle at Bristol in 2015 and he's worked with Jimmy Cheek to get us back on solid footing with other schools as far as academic constraints that were holding us back to an extent, in the few years before he got here. He also played a game of high stakes poker with Cuonzo Martin and his agent James "Buddy" Baker and came out on top.

We all know Mike Hamilton would've given away the farm to Cuonzo and his agent after that Sweet 16 run, but Dave played it steady and let things play out. He had Tennessee's back in all this and he stood tall. Dave also doesn't need a wasteful coaching search firm either, he rolls up his sleeve and goes out and finds a coach the old fashioned way, and to all the Pat Forde's and people like him, who think we're not on solid ground around here. You're dead wrong, Butch Jones has us on the way back to the football promised land. Dave Serrano has Tennessee Baseball on solid ground and has turned the corner this season and in basketball we're coming off a Sweet 16 run and we're going to make an upgrade at head coach. I think we're on very firm ground around here and we have some of the best fans and fan support in the country.

Last thing before I sign off, let me roll some names out there for you on the coaching search. I do believe Gregg Marshall and Ben Howland are the top two candidates to fill the vacancy. Now, we all know coaching searches are fluid and things can change. Some other names that could crop up are Tim Miles Nebraska's head coach, Richard Pitino, Mick Cronin, Archie Miller, Donnie Tyndall from Southern Miss and Rick Byrd. Shaka Smart's name could come up, but I'm not buying that one. It should be interesting as coaching searches usually are. I hope all of you have a great week and as always Go Big Orange!

Your Vol Colonel'

Keith Hatfield, presented by Springs Dock Resort, continues to dominate.
Hatfield's Hardwood Report
'Tuesday should be viewed as a rare day in the history of the UT athletic department. A coach left and everyone, save a visibly miffed Dave Hart, seems to be reasonably pleased. It is rare to see a win-win scenario in modern college athletics. That is exactly what we have here.

First, some parting thoughts on Cuonzo Martin. He's a fantastic role model who will be a tremendous representative for Cal. At this point in his career he is a slightly above average to merely good basketball coach. That will probably satisfy the less than rabid fan base in Berkeley.

Now, let's talk Tennessee. We will soon see how the administration views its basketball program. UT is the only program of any meaningful national stature with an opening now. The entire field of realistic candidates is available to them.

If Dave Hart and his superiors see Tennessee as a program with state of the art facilities and a massive and loyal following, which it is, the Vols will come out of this with a top flight coach. There's absolutely no justification for UT attempting to make a hire on the cheap. If Hart makes a market value salary available, quality candidates will be lined up for the position. This is a very good, not great job.

The thing that holds this program back from joining the national elite is the lack of sustained success commensurate with the facilities and fan support. Hire, for example, Ben Howland or Mick Cronin and you take a large step toward removing that impediment. A very good coach will win and win big in Knoxville. UT is among the handful of schools in the SEC where basketball is an actual priority.

Go Vols!

What an opportunity!


“A man of great character and a molder of young men.” How many times did we hear that about Cuonzo Martin? The answer is always. You never heard Zo mentioned without those words and people would even throw in “he’s a great guy,” for good measure. Most of the pro-Cuonzo supporters argued that those reasons should be enough for the embattled coach to keep his job. The funny thing is, that in the world of major college basketball, things aren’t always what they seem. Do you think Travon Landry and his family have the same sentiments?

You remember Travon Landry don’t you? He was the point guard that committed to Cuonzo on December of 2011, signed early in November 2012, and then Cuonzo informed he was no longer wanted in May of 2013 when a better option came along.
Landry had to scramble to find a place to play this year and ended up at New Mexico St. A man of great character left a kid out to dry that was committed to him and his program for over 2 years.

Ask Trea Golden and his family what he thinks about Cuonzo Martin and his time at UT. How about calling Houston Fancher and getting him to talk off the record. And what about Martin’s last recruit, Kingsley Okoroh, who pledged to UT on Monday and de-committed and followed Martin to Cal on Tuesday. What about that smoke cloud. Cuonzo said he would never recruit committed players, but he did with Okoroh. Kinda sheds a different light on Coach Martin, doesn’t it?

The moral of this story is don’t make a coach out to be more than what he is, a coach. Parents are the ones in charge of instilling values, morals, integrity, and character in their children, not coaches. Coaches are there to get every last ounce of talent out of their players, recruit, slap backs with boosters, and win games. Period. If you’re looking for a coach to raise your kids, then you’ve failed your kids. It’s like thinking the guy who cuts your yard takes as much pride in the job as you do. He doesn’t, and you shouldn’t think he would.

I hope Cuonzo Martin has much success at Cal and can finally be known as a basketball coach instead of a good guy. Like Leo Durocher said, “Nice guys finish last.”


Earl, you know my mantra. Not a coach worshipper, never have been. People of any size, stripe and creed will let you down. Cuonzo's not a saint in any of this despite how he's being presented in the national media. The fans here got on him because he needed it. Compared to most of his peers in hoops coaching, Cuonzo Martin is a beautiful guy but as you point out, he's not perfect. As for nice guys finishing last, I find it ironic that Cuonzo finally recruits a committed player when it was a player he takes FROM Tennessee instead of TO Tennessee. Perhaps he will get a technical early on in Berkeley and get in the game for real!

Mid-State Heath gets a moment.
'According to players on Twitter and in the media, signing a petition means you did not "respect" Martin.

I want to remind these players what was not respected was their listless and boring play which was a reflection of their coach who was paid substantially.

Mid-State Heath'

What a day! Win, Win, WIN! And we will discuss it today live on the air with you today and many special guests. Tennessee is about to get back into big time college basketball. Let’s rejoice!


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