Whatever the last coach seemingly lacked, the new coach would be expected to provide in abundance. It has worked that way for the last 22 years.
Bruce Pearl, Martin's predecessor, was fired because he lied to the NCAA about recruiting violations. So it's hardly shocking that UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek emphasized, " . . . the first thing, you've got to play by the rules" in citing his criteria for coaching candidates.
Cheek added: "(Martin) convinced me without a shadow of a doubt that he is that kind of coach."
That couldn't have been difficult. If you were interviewing at a school about to get swatted by the NCAA, wouldn't you at least hint that you were a stickler for following the rules?
Former UT basketball coach Don DeVoe was a stickler for following the rules in the 1980s. Unfortunately for him, half the coaches in the SEC weren't quite as obsessive about adhering to the NCAA rule book. Those programs eventually went on NCAA probation, but that was of little consolation to DeVoe, who was fired for not recruiting well enough.
UT then hired Wade Houston, who was regarded as a recruiting whiz as a Louisville assistant coach.
As a Vol, Houston recruited great inside his family. But other than his All-SEC son, Allan, no one ever mistook UT's talent for Louisville's.
Wade's laid-back approach to coaching - players didn't always make it to the airport in time, for example - left the Vols in the market for a high-energy guy when they began their next coaching search. They found him in Kevin O'Neill, who managed to function in a near-manic state on a couple of hours sleep while convincing his players that strangulation was just punishment for inadequate defense. Offense was an afterthought for his teams, which fell short of 50 points 15 times in three years.
When O'Neill left for Northwestern, UT sought out someone more offensively inclined. Enter: Jerry Green, whose offense was far better than his people skills. He managed to win 20 or more games for four consecutive seasons and become increasingly unpopular in the process.
UT next hired affable Buzz Peterson, who qualified as the anti-Green in that he won over fans but lost way too many games. Win or lose, he wasn't averse to a good nap on game day.
Athletic director Mike Hamilton probably figured out in the next interview process that Pearl didn't take naps. And since high energy and enthusiasm were again in demand, Pearl was a natural successor to Peterson.
Not only did Pearl have O'Neill's drive, he was even more likable than Peterson. He won big, filled up the arena and did everything you could ask of a coach except, as Cheek would say, "play by the rules."
From what I've read about Pearl's successor, Martin is a no-nonsense guy who will field a disciplined, hard-nosed team and perhaps stabilize the program. And given the current climate on the UT campus, he won't so much as toss a piece of gum on the NCAA sidewalk.
My guess is the next coaching search will focus on candidates with a great reputation for recruiting - even if they had to bend a few rules along the way.