Like any coaching hire, the jury will be out on Cuonzo Martin for a couple of years.
Still, after watching the best seats on the college basketball coaching carousel fill up, my early impression is that Tennessee did OK.
Would UT fans rather have seen Mark Gottfried or Frank Haith introduced in an orange tie? I think not.
Final Four darlings Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart weren’t introduced anywhere. Stevens already had a great job at Butler.
Smart turned down at least one major school, probably others, and I believe he also would have rejected Tennessee if offered. He’s staying at Virginia Commonwealth, which doubled his pay (at the least) with a new deal of $1.2 million a year for eight years.
Let’s review the carousel:
* Tennessee: Mike Hamilton shocked no one with another mid-major hire. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that.
If Martin works out, Hamilton deserves credit for moving swiftly to lock him up in a volatile market where other jobs were more attractive than UT’s current situation.
* Arkansas: Give athletic director Jeff Long props. He’s willing to pay big in hopes of big results.
He did it for Bobby Petrino in football and now the Razorbacks have upgraded basketball by landing prime target Mike Anderson.
Anderson, 51, is a proven commodity with six NCAA tournaments in nine years as a coach at UAB and Missouri. His ties with Arkansas made him the favorite and Long paid $2.2 million a year to pry him away from a good job at Missouri.
* Oklahoma: Lon Kruger wasn’t the first choice, but he’s a good one. He does nothing but win.
He has led four schools to the NCAA tournament, a combined 13 times. He took Kansas State to the Elite Eight and Florida to the Final Four. He has won big the past seven years at UNLV.
The only knock is his age, 58. For what it’s worth, Kruger seems a young 58.
Like Arkansas with Anderson, once Oklahoma turned to Kruger it was persistent, finally getting a yes at $2.2 million — double his UNLV deal.
* Missouri: Unable to seduce Matt Painter away from Purdue, Mizzou had a surprising Plan B (or was it C or D?) in Haith, who did OK at best in Miami.
Haith’s recruiting prowess as an assistant at various schools is more impressive than his W-L chart in seven years at Miami.
But Mizzou is a better job and he might rise to the occasion. Tiger fans, though, are wondering why they couldn’t land a more attractive candidate.
Haith will make $1.5 million for five years. Martin could have ended up here instead of at UT.
* Georgia Tech: Like Missouri, an underwhelming result that might turn out to be a good hire over time.
Brian Gregory took Dayton to two NCAA tournaments in eight years and won an NIT.
The former Tom Izzo aide signed a six-year deal for $1 million a year.
* N.C. State: Sean Miller knew he had a better gig at Arizona. Smart said no thanks. Gregg Marshall preferred Wichita State.
So, Gottfried is back in coaching with a $1.2 million package, two years after resigning under fire at Alabama. Gottfried had a strong run in the middle of his 11 years at Bama but tailed off badly at the end.
I doubt Tar Heel and Blue Devil fans are trembling.
n Texas Tech: What’s not to like about Billy Gillispie back in the Lone Star State?
Gillispie proved he’s a good coach at UTEP and Texas A&M. Kentucky was a horrible fit but Texas Tech seems close to perfect.
The Red Raiders got him for $800,000 a year plus incentives.
* Utah: The Utes reportedly wanted Randy Bennett to leave Saint Mary’s and guide their move to Pac-12. He wouldn’t, so they hired Larry Krystkowiak, an NBA assistant whose collegiate resume was two strong years at Montana.
Now Miami is looking for Haith’s replacement and UNLV for Kruger’s.
Don’t expect any bombshells whom UT fans would rather see in an orange tie.
Mike Strange may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-342-6276. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.