Why Coach Martin is (Sadly, but Realistically) Destined for Failure in Four Years
by, 08-30-2011 at 12:49 PM (3595 Views)
For the record, and before I begin, I should point out a few things, first:
My knowledge of hoops could easily fit inside a thimble - and even then, it would still leave ample room to easily store a list of potential D-1 job opportunities for both Coach Fulmer and Mike Hamilton, respectively.
I detested Coach Pearl's actions which ultimately lead to his downfall, and only wish that he were fired sooner. So, I am no Pearl apologist, by any stretch of the imagination.
From all that I have heard of Coach Martin via the press, other members on The Hill, and in our single brief meeting - I believe that he is a good coach and an even better person. I believe that he is an excellent representative of the University, and will conduct himself with equal parts humility and competitive spirit - and will demand the same from his players, both on and off the court. So much so, that I am genuinely pulling for the guy, and not only as a Tennessee fan, but also from a personal standpoint. I hope that he not only survives here, but thrives - and for years and years to come - and makes me regret everything that I am about to say.
However, and with those caveats firmly in place, here is my bold prediction for CCM (who I've had the chance to meet, and actually really like):
1. Without making post-season play, his tenure will last a total of four (4) seasons.
2. If he makes an NIT appearance in the third or fourth season (forget these first two), he'll buy himself an extra (fifth) year.
3. If he makes an NCAA appearance in any season (again, forget these first two), he'll buy himself an extra two years (5th and 6th).
4. Neither his personal approach nor any particular stye of play will effectively aggravate or mitigate the inescapable and single most paramount statistic of the casual fan (which, not incidentally, is the overwhelming majority of Tennessee fans) - WINS. And that which I believe that he will fail to provide in sufficient quantity.
5. Why won't he produce enough wins? Because he won't be able to recruit enough high-quality athletes to consistently compete. While already lagging far behind the likes of Cal and Donovan in recruiting (not to mention a world of difference in stature), the recent addition(s) / surging of Anderson, Fox and Grant will only make it that much more difficult, and likely insurmountable, both in the immediate or short-term future.
6. While a 3-4 year string of disappointing seasons would be considered a "cause for concern" at schools with a more robust pedigree of traditions / prior successes, such would prove cataclysmic to Tennessee - a program which may enjoy some punctuated anomalies of success here and there, but which is largely at or below average.
7. How bad will it get after the first two seasons? Let's put it this way - going into the third season, the black curtains of the upper deck won't just be discussed, but likely, unfurled. Whether right or wrong, a mediocre / poor basketball team simply will not hold a sufficient or sustaining allure for the casual Tennessee fan. Period. Oh, Tommy Bowl will always be near capacity for marquee games against the likes of UConn and traditional foes such as Kentucky (although app. 65% of that game crowd will be both dressed in blue and busily sexting their cousins at halftime) - but the crowd at all other games will more closely resemble an ill-conceived flash mob of Ambien-induced mimes than the raucous crowds to which we have become accustomed of late.
So what can Coach Martin be do to avoid this? Were it a perfect world, he would win - both a lot, and quickly. But the reality is that he cannot and will not be able to do so quickly, or even at all. And I believe that all of these factors will cause his tenure to come to an abrupt and unceremonious halt, most likely at the end of his fourth season.
Of course, by the end of the third (and likely, losing) season, the rampant apathy will lead to half of the fanbase calling for his job, while the other half also screams for Pearl's return.
Aaaah, I can almost hear the cacophony of our own special brand of idiocy now, " It was just a BBQ!", "He IS Tennessee basketball!" and my all-time future favorite (I call dibs): "He's Vol For Life!"