John Adams talks what's next for Tennessee post-Cuonzo Martin
In the days that followed Cuonzo Martin's surprise announcement that he was leaving Tennessee for California, nearly 5,000 GVX readers weighed in on who they wanted for his replacement.
Topping the list with 35 percent of the vote is Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall.
"The voters' top pick is really no surprise," said Knoxville News Sentinel basketball beat reporter Ben Frederickson. "It's likely UT athletic director Dave Hart's as well, along with pretty much any other athletic director that would be asked to fill a coaching vacancy."
"The question with Marshall, who has been linked to two previous UT coaching searches, is the money. He's not going to leave a basketball-crazed school that has a loaded roster returning for a slight pay bump, especially when he knows he's one of the hottest names in the business. Unless UT is willing to go big — up toward $3 million per year — this is probably a pipe dream for Vol fans. Surely UT won't pay a basketball coach more than Butch Jones? The UT football coach makes $2.95 million per year."
Coming in second place with almost 900 votes was VCU coach Shaka Smart.
"Shaka Smart, like Marshall, is a dream pick for college basketball fans," says Frederickson. "But remember: Smart turned down Marquette, a school in his home state, even thought it was paying its last coach (Buzz Williams) $3 million per year. Yes, Cuonzo Martin also turned down Marquette. But Smart would have been paid more to be the lead man for the Golden Eagles. It's tough to see UT, given its current financial state, coming up with an offer that could make Smart bite. Also, Smart and Martin have ties. What kind of recommendation would Martin give UT?"
Third on the list, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino whose team won the NIT tournament this year. The odds of Pitino coming to Tennessee were dashed slightly on Thursday when Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague said on a local radio station that Pitino was "not interested" in the Tennessee job.
"Richard Pitino is much more realistic, despite his athletic director's recent comments that he has no interest in the UT job. (Vol fans have seen firsthand how fast that can change)," says Frederickson. "UT could offer Pitino more than his $1.2 million per year, if it deemed the 31-year-old who has been at two schools in two years worth the risk. His buyout is $1.5 million, which would be mostly covered by the $1.3 million Cal will pay for hiring Martin."
You can view the results of the poll here. This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.