Mike Strange: A review of the coaching carousel

Mike Strange

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 strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 33

VOLtage writes:

Hope the Vols go after Arkansas athletic director someday he doesn't have mid-majoritis like M H does.

FWBVol writes:

I really think Tennessee did as well as could be expected in this year's coaching changes.

Kruger and Anderson were the biggest names that changed jobs. Most of the good coaches didn't seem to be willing to leave their current schools.

I like what I'm seeing from Cuonzo Martin so far. I don't think it will take him as long to get things back on course.

TheVolMan writes:

in response to VOLtage:

Hope the Vols go after Arkansas athletic director someday he doesn't have mid-majoritis like M H does.

Hate to disappoint you but MH made an excellent hire with Coach Martin. And, he had the guts to make the tough call on Fulmer. But, if you have to keep hatin' then go ahead and root for the Hogs if that's your thing.

MothershipChip writes:

For what its worth Mizzou fans are going nuts that they got stuck with Haith and didn't get Painter or Coach Cuonzo.

All in all we made a pretty remarkable hire in spite of impending potential violations and the treatment of Coach Pearl.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

I would have liked to at least try to get the Butler coach after their last game.

VOLtage writes:

in response to TheVolMan:

Hate to disappoint you but MH made an excellent hire with Coach Martin. And, he had the guts to make the tough call on Fulmer. But, if you have to keep hatin' then go ahead and root for the Hogs if that's your thing.

Hey knucklehead who said anything about rooting for the Hogs.

VOLliven2it writes:

The leading indicator as to how far up the mountain Coach Martin has to climb is yet to come with the NCAA decision in June. But for now, we have need of trying to recruit players to fit his system. A good effort seems to be happening on that front. We do not know how that will turn out. It would be hard for me as a recruit, not knowing what sanctions you would be under if you came to UT. So I hope the coaches can be convincing in and of themselves to some good players. We can surely hope Coach Martin and Co. turn things around quickly. More likely is that it will take some time and as fans we need to chill and try to be patient.

bseaman7117 writes:

let's face it Vol fans, Tennessee has now turned into nothing more than a mid major school...we might as well secede from the SEC and join the Horizon league...or maybe Conference USA will have us...or at least this is the thinking of the Chancellor and his AD. I, for one...do not want to stand by and watch the degradation of our beloved athletic program. And would you blame a big name coach for not wanting to come here after the events that have unfolded in the last 5 years ? I can't...until Mike Hamilton is relieved of his choke hold on our athletic program, we might as well get use to playing powerhouse teams like Montana and Cincinnati.

westknoxrepub writes:

NC State could have gotten a better hire if they didn't have a train wreck for an athletic director. UT fans think Hamilton is bad. . .Debbie Yow is worse, and classless to boot.

hallsguy writes:

in response to jecusitnet:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bingo,there ya go.Now that would be a hoot.

NashvillePreds writes:

I fail to see any job, listed in the story, that is superior to the University of Tennessee.
Facilites, fans, $$ to make winning a reality.
It is unfortunate the people whom are actually paid to write about sports can not see the same reality.

I even saw one writer try to make the claim Georgia was a better basketball job than UT. Wasn't Georgia's arena built during the cold war, as a fallout shelter?

VOLunTEAR writes:

Take an historical perpective . . . go back and look at hires a few decades ago: for example Pat Summitt (Pat who?) and Coach K at Duke (Mike who?). Look at their early records. Hmmm. Best case scenario is that we (that includes Mike Hamilton) have found the perfect fit with Coach Martin. Let's give it a chance. Maybe, just maybe . . . !

murrayvol writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think he had everything to do with this hire. And like most others I believe it will prove to be a good call.

murrayvol writes:

in response to BigVolFaninSC:

I would have liked to at least try to get the Butler coach after their last game.

Stevens told all suitors he was just fine where he was. The only job I see him taking in the near term would be Indiana if Crean continues to flatline.

murrayvol writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The "administration" didn't have a choice. The NCAA, for whatever reason, sent them a crystal clear message. Keep Pearl if you must but rest assured the pain won't be worth it.

They were out to get Bruce Pearl. Will the same be true for Tressel, Aubie, and others? Dunno.

bUTchVFL writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I fail to see any job, listed in the story, that is superior to the University of Tennessee.
Facilites, fans, $$ to make winning a reality.
It is unfortunate the people whom are actually paid to write about sports can not see the same reality.

I even saw one writer try to make the claim Georgia was a better basketball job than UT. Wasn't Georgia's arena built during the cold war, as a fallout shelter?

You make valid points, but I think what makes UT a short term bad job is the NCAA sanctions that are surely coming. No one would argue facilities, support, or $$$, but getting a coach to leave their job when others currently are more stable, without all the baggage, would have been difficult. VFL GBO!

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I fail to see any job, listed in the story, that is superior to the University of Tennessee.
Facilites, fans, $$ to make winning a reality.
It is unfortunate the people whom are actually paid to write about sports can not see the same reality.

I even saw one writer try to make the claim Georgia was a better basketball job than UT. Wasn't Georgia's arena built during the cold war, as a fallout shelter?

Georgia's facility isn't that bad, I'd rank it above the Tad Pad, Memorial, Maravich, or the O Dome (in that it doesn't reek of chlorine). Facilities is really the only edge we have on places like Arkansas, Georgia Tech or NC State, tradition is richer there, and the fanbase is more passionate and knowledgable. Tennessee fans don't care unless we're winning and even in cases where we do win (Green) they're still not passionate. Buzz wanted the practice facility built, but until Pearl won, and made people care, it wasn't getting done.

arkyvol writes:

strange: "Tennessee: Mike Hamilton shocked no one with another mid-major hire. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that."

no, it doesn't "shock" me that hamilton has to go to the bargain rack to hire a coach. no first rate coach (think saban, muschamp, calipari, or gruden) would give him the time of day. what disappoints me is that vol beat reporters seem to think there's nothing wrong here. i suppose mediocrity is catching. i hope the best for our new coach, but my optimism is tempered by the shadow of todd raleigh. moral: you get what you pay for.

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to bUTchVFL:

You make valid points, but I think what makes UT a short term bad job is the NCAA sanctions that are surely coming. No one would argue facilities, support, or $$$, but getting a coach to leave their job when others currently are more stable, without all the baggage, would have been difficult. VFL GBO!

True. Short-term there are issues. But long-term, I think the UT job is the best position.

brod writes:

it's going to be very interesting to see if vcu and butler maintain the level of success now that most of their stars are gone. we'll see if stevens and smart jump next year when the outlook isn't so bright.

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Georgia's facility isn't that bad, I'd rank it above the Tad Pad, Memorial, Maravich, or the O Dome (in that it doesn't reek of chlorine). Facilities is really the only edge we have on places like Arkansas, Georgia Tech or NC State, tradition is richer there, and the fanbase is more passionate and knowledgable. Tennessee fans don't care unless we're winning and even in cases where we do win (Green) they're still not passionate. Buzz wanted the practice facility built, but until Pearl won, and made people care, it wasn't getting done.

I assume the Tad Pad is Ole Miss? That place does look like a hole, if so. I disagree on Memorial Gym. Though I have absolutely no love for Vandy, and their pretentious fans, I do, genuinely, enjoy Memorial Gym. It is certainly the crown jewel of their program, as their football stadium is a Conference USA castoff.
I disagree about the validity of the the UT job being second to GT, NC State, or even, Arkansas. I do not believe winning a National Championship(s) in the early 80s help recruiting. Also, for NC State, and GT, you are always going to be an also-ran, to Duke and UNC.
Arkansas had their, "shining moment" (a la CBS), but I don't think their fans/program give them any advantage.
I saw where Rucker had stated UT had top 5 crowds for about the past 5 years in a row. Even during the Houston, Green, Peterson eras we were in the top 25, in attendance.
As far as Green, you can not insult customers (which fans are, in essence) and expect them to buy your product.

vet4ut writes:

in response to VOLtage:

Hey knucklehead who said anything about rooting for the Hogs.

I think his point is that the constant Hamilton crying is old. He's not going anywhere.

vet4ut writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ignorance is bliss...

vet4ut writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I fail to see any job, listed in the story, that is superior to the University of Tennessee.
Facilites, fans, $$ to make winning a reality.
It is unfortunate the people whom are actually paid to write about sports can not see the same reality.

I even saw one writer try to make the claim Georgia was a better basketball job than UT. Wasn't Georgia's arena built during the cold war, as a fallout shelter?

The point is that we can all speculate about the NCAA penalties but NOBODY knows. None of the higher "quality" coaches are going to leave a good job without knowing what restrictions they would be working under.
Let's say we do get a post season ban for 1-2 years, or we lose 2-3 schollys for 1-2 years... Recruits would run away like we had the plague.
And, some of those mid major coaches that were supposedly in the mix (Marshall, Smart) received raises that pay them close to what Zo is making here. Less stress but equal pay. No brainer for another couple years...

vet4ut writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I assume the Tad Pad is Ole Miss? That place does look like a hole, if so. I disagree on Memorial Gym. Though I have absolutely no love for Vandy, and their pretentious fans, I do, genuinely, enjoy Memorial Gym. It is certainly the crown jewel of their program, as their football stadium is a Conference USA castoff.
I disagree about the validity of the the UT job being second to GT, NC State, or even, Arkansas. I do not believe winning a National Championship(s) in the early 80s help recruiting. Also, for NC State, and GT, you are always going to be an also-ran, to Duke and UNC.
Arkansas had their, "shining moment" (a la CBS), but I don't think their fans/program give them any advantage.
I saw where Rucker had stated UT had top 5 crowds for about the past 5 years in a row. Even during the Houston, Green, Peterson eras we were in the top 25, in attendance.
As far as Green, you can not insult customers (which fans are, in essence) and expect them to buy your product.

And the biggest point you conveniently left out...none of those programs, for better/worse or exactly the same, are facing possible NCAA penalties.
That is the crux of the discussion. You can't have a debate without mentioning it.

HoustonVol writes:

Couple of points here. The NCAA has made it clear that they plan to nail Pearl. Pearl's biggest issue was not the violations that he made - it was the lying. Pearl and Jones will both receive a two+ year show cause. The actual charges against the UT programs are minor and will not result in much if any punishment. So all of the talk regarding Pearl ending up at X school is BS. No school will hire him right now and risk him being banned from the NCAA for 2+ years. After the ban is lifted, you still will not see a school hire him. I loved Pearl as much as anyone, but he needed to go. He lied. If any of us lied to our employer about covering up when we broke the rules, we would be fired on the spot. This is no different.

2nd: Once I reaserched the Zo Martin hiring, I have been on board. My first thought was who? I think Hammy made a great hire that will continue the growth in the program. The quick hire is looking even better as other programs fill their HC spots. The only coach that I would take over Martin now would be Kruger, and there is no way we are hiring an old UF coach.

Still Hammy needs to go for allowing the sports programs reach this level of low.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to VOLliven2it:

The leading indicator as to how far up the mountain Coach Martin has to climb is yet to come with the NCAA decision in June. But for now, we have need of trying to recruit players to fit his system. A good effort seems to be happening on that front. We do not know how that will turn out. It would be hard for me as a recruit, not knowing what sanctions you would be under if you came to UT. So I hope the coaches can be convincing in and of themselves to some good players. We can surely hope Coach Martin and Co. turn things around quickly. More likely is that it will take some time and as fans we need to chill and try to be patient.

Spot on. From what I can read and gather, Martin and his staff will produce a well-coached basketball team that is tight, cohesive, and tough. The question is - will they win? The answer to that depends on recruiting, as you point out. It will take a couple of years at least to judge Martin as a recruiter, to see if he can get excellent and talented players to play his style of ball. In the meantine, we must be patient and give him the chance to succeed or fail.

vet4ut writes:

in response to HoustonVol:

Couple of points here. The NCAA has made it clear that they plan to nail Pearl. Pearl's biggest issue was not the violations that he made - it was the lying. Pearl and Jones will both receive a two+ year show cause. The actual charges against the UT programs are minor and will not result in much if any punishment. So all of the talk regarding Pearl ending up at X school is BS. No school will hire him right now and risk him being banned from the NCAA for 2+ years. After the ban is lifted, you still will not see a school hire him. I loved Pearl as much as anyone, but he needed to go. He lied. If any of us lied to our employer about covering up when we broke the rules, we would be fired on the spot. This is no different.

2nd: Once I reaserched the Zo Martin hiring, I have been on board. My first thought was who? I think Hammy made a great hire that will continue the growth in the program. The quick hire is looking even better as other programs fill their HC spots. The only coach that I would take over Martin now would be Kruger, and there is no way we are hiring an old UF coach.

Still Hammy needs to go for allowing the sports programs reach this level of low.

Good post except for the last sentence. Does that mean that since Pearl was interviewed and lied to NCAA investigators (and UT administrators including Hammy) and didn't "come forward on his own volition" until the picture was turned over to the same investigators that it's Hammy's fault?
Using that logic, if an employee lies to the police about a crime and then is found to have lied, the CEO of the business should be fired? Um, no.
Criticize him for Raleigh and Kiffin? Sure. Pearl? No way. Dude lied and had to suffer the consequences.
But I'll have to say, I like the looks of that football renovation, the TB renovation, Lindsey Nelson Stadium Renovation, Pratt Pavilion, the football practice facitily renovations, etc.

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to vet4ut:

And the biggest point you conveniently left out...none of those programs, for better/worse or exactly the same, are facing possible NCAA penalties.
That is the crux of the discussion. You can't have a debate without mentioning it.

I, "conveniently" left the point out, due to the fact I had previously addressed said issue in the reply to the former poster. I.E. long-term vs. short term.

GtotheGrizzle writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ditto, but it is what it is. UT made their choice...i just dont see a good outcome from this situation. I'll support the players, but i'm at odds with the program. Why does Hammy still have a job?

GtotheGrizzle writes:

in response to HoustonVol:

Couple of points here. The NCAA has made it clear that they plan to nail Pearl. Pearl's biggest issue was not the violations that he made - it was the lying. Pearl and Jones will both receive a two+ year show cause. The actual charges against the UT programs are minor and will not result in much if any punishment. So all of the talk regarding Pearl ending up at X school is BS. No school will hire him right now and risk him being banned from the NCAA for 2+ years. After the ban is lifted, you still will not see a school hire him. I loved Pearl as much as anyone, but he needed to go. He lied. If any of us lied to our employer about covering up when we broke the rules, we would be fired on the spot. This is no different.

2nd: Once I reaserched the Zo Martin hiring, I have been on board. My first thought was who? I think Hammy made a great hire that will continue the growth in the program. The quick hire is looking even better as other programs fill their HC spots. The only coach that I would take over Martin now would be Kruger, and there is no way we are hiring an old UF coach.

Still Hammy needs to go for allowing the sports programs reach this level of low.

BP lied, but admitted he did and claimed it...of course this is a big deal, but is it not wrong to give him a 2nd chance.. only because the way he made the Basketball program? They're active coaches that have done far worse and was punished far less. Whatever happen to forgivness and redemption in life? I hope Coach Martin does well, but replacing a legend is always a tough job. Oh well....back to the ol UT saying again, "There's always football."

STLVOLS writes:

Reporting from St. Louis/Vol grad/fan and I live here. The Univ. Of Missouri fans are outraged about hiring of Frank Haith as their new coach. CCM was Plan B after Pudue's Painter decided to stay at Purdue

Anyway, Miisouri BB fans are mad at Missouri Athletic direcor for waiting too long to get CCM before Vols after Painter rejection. Quite frankly, I would be mad also. CCM will be fine and also with his Midwest links to the major USA cities of of St. Louis, Kansas City, and yes Chicago a midwestern city.All three of these cities are full of talent that go everywhere but UT. Maybe CCM can lure some here.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I assume the Tad Pad is Ole Miss? That place does look like a hole, if so. I disagree on Memorial Gym. Though I have absolutely no love for Vandy, and their pretentious fans, I do, genuinely, enjoy Memorial Gym. It is certainly the crown jewel of their program, as their football stadium is a Conference USA castoff.
I disagree about the validity of the the UT job being second to GT, NC State, or even, Arkansas. I do not believe winning a National Championship(s) in the early 80s help recruiting. Also, for NC State, and GT, you are always going to be an also-ran, to Duke and UNC.
Arkansas had their, "shining moment" (a la CBS), but I don't think their fans/program give them any advantage.
I saw where Rucker had stated UT had top 5 crowds for about the past 5 years in a row. Even during the Houston, Green, Peterson eras we were in the top 25, in attendance.
As far as Green, you can not insult customers (which fans are, in essence) and expect them to buy your product.

I think Memorial is a nice gym, but Georgia's is nicer. Coleman is a dump though, so was Auburn's old arena, they got a nicer newer gym, just a silent though.

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