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Cuonzo, Racism, and BBB: Parrish the Thought

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In his article, Gary Parrish trots out the canard of the petition demanding Cuonzo's firing and throws in some nice unsubstantiated racism claims as well. I thought that was lazy and/or reprehensible on his part, though his position is certainly not unique among his peers (looking at you Dana O'Brien).

Anyways, with regards to the petition and racism: who ultimately made the decision to not make a bigger, longer-term commitment to Cuonzo? It's Dave Hart, right? I'm sure there was some booster influence, and perhaps a lot of it, but at the end of the day Hart has seemed pretty OK with alienating boosters and calling his own shots, leaving a bloody trail of UT-leveraged raises and extensions in his wake. Another day at the office.

So claims about the fanbase regarding racism may or may not be true to any significant degree. Claims about the petition, though forever misstated and exaggerated they may be, likely are fair enough for many UT fans. But for either of those two factors not to be obfuscations, they would have to also apply to the decision maker, Dave Hart, who did not fire Cuonzo but clearly did not provide him with a tenable situation.

Do lots and lots of people, quite frankly (I see you Stephen A. Smith), think Dave Hart finds the color of Cuonzo's skin an issue? Does Gary Parrish think there is any truth to that?

And as for the petition, the article itself mentions Dave Hart's vow to never rehire Pearl. Also, Dave Hart in fact did not hire Bruce Pearl. It would appear to me that Dave Hart may not have given much consideration to the petition, seeing as how the lone purpose of the petition was to BBB (bring back Bruce) and Hart ended up DDD (dumpster diving Donnie - sorry, that's a cheap shot).

Dave Hart's primary motivation is simple. It's even stated right there in a paraphrase attributed to Cuonzo (in so many words). Not good enough. Simple as that. Recruiting? Not good enough. Assistants? Not good enough. Future of the program after losing three key players? Not good enough. The culmination of histenure, bolstered by a 5th year senior leader returning from a season-long injury to align everything for one final push? Not good enough (or at least not convincingly so).

Couch it in terms of fit or not the right job or whatever you like. Timing is everything. Maybe there's something to that. But when push came to shove, Cuonzo shoved off to Cal. To be sure, there is an honor in recognizing one's shortcomings, in making a mutually beneficial decision to part ways. At the same time, it's an odd trait to have for a Division I collegiate coach.

Martin acknowledged, openly, that he realized a few months after taking the UT job that it probably wasn't the right job for him. From early on. My god, man! Those were halcyon days! Making a run at the tournament with a collection of Pearl castoffs? Landing Jarnell Stokes? Yet no self belief? No singular focus to overcome the obstacles? This certainly doesn't match the biography. Very curious indeed.

But apparently good enough for ex-Cal AD Chaz Bono. So good luck with that. And actually, sincere best wishes as well.

So anyways, what does 2 + 2 equal, Gary (and not to exclude, any other media members with similar takes on Cuonzo and UT... or I guess that's everyone who's written anything about Cuonzo and UT)? Hint, the answer is in your article. No, it's not the KKK. Hey, give it another try though. Change.org? Where do you guys even come up with this? Not even close.

In fact, not good enough.

Other points:

in his three seasons at UT, Martin won more SEC games than anybody not named John Calipari or Billy Donovan, and that he was the only SEC coach besides Calipari and Donovan to make a Sweet 16
Nice publicist line. Also, the SEC was rancid trash for the entirety of Cuonzo's tenure. Come on. You sure you didn't just take that from an infographic?

Martin did all that despite UT's men's basketball budget dropping by roughly $1.6 million annually from Pearl's final year in Knoxville to Martin's final year in Knoxville
Because of attendance, itself because of a worse product.

"We all thought it was laughable," said Yanni Hufnagel, who was, at the time, on staff at Vanderbilt but is now working for Martin at Cal. "It didn't make much sense. You have a team that competes every night, has outstanding character, graduates all of its players and is on the cusp of the NCAA Tournament. As a fan, how are you not satisfied with that?"
Leave it to Vanderbilt to set that bar sky high. Cusp of the tournament? You don't say? Enjoy that one too, Cal.

Would certainly be a banner year for Kevin Stallings though, to be sure (tell 'em Franco).

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  1. dknash's Avatar
    Dana O'Neil, not O'Brien. Sorry to besmirch.
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