At this point, it seems as though the Frank Martin saga is coming to a close that includes him exiting Columbia this offseason. While the details are not finalized as of yet, we do know that the program has been unable to build on its Cinderella Final Four run in 2017.
Obviously, four years ago, most Gamecock fans wouldn’t have pictured the program being where it is today.
Not only is the program unable to recruit top talent, but they are nauseating to watch and simply not competitive. One can help but wonder, given the success and the demise, does Frank Martin’s tenure in Columbia compare more favorably to that of Steve Spurrier or that of Will Muschamp?
First off, I know it’s somewhat apples to oranges, crossing over from basketball to football. However, I think the concept is pretty clear here.
Steve Spurrier brought the football program to new heights, winning their first ever SEC East title and winning 11 games an unprecedented three consecutive seasons. No doubt the bar was raised by the success of the Spurrier years and he put more players in the NFL during he tenure than in any other tenure before him.
Spurrier is the winningest coach in program history, and despite leaving the team mid-season, he forever raised the expectations of everyone in the building and everyone in the stands.
To be clear, Frank Martin is nowhere near as successful as Steve Spurrier was but the comparison isn’t hard to grasp.
Martin briefly raised the expectations as well when he brought the Gamecocks to its first ever Final Four. Some even make the argument that if he hadn’t made that magical run in 2017, the pressure to return may not quite be as high.
Martin also has put more players in the NBA than any other Gamecocks coach before him. In the eyes of many fans, Martin will be remembered as the best coach since Frank Maguire.
Will Muschamp, on the other hand, didn’t have the same level of success as his predecessor(despite what he would say in pressers). The blue collar former Gamecocks coach was, if nothing else, beloved by his former players. Sound familiar?
A hard nosed coach who is known for his defense, Muschamp sold his vision to Ray Tanner and Gamecock fans during his tenure. The problem was, his defense was (especially towards the end) completely terrible.
Let me make something else clear, I think Frank Martin is a better coach than Will Muschamp, and I don’t know many that would fight me on that point. However, they both have glaringly similar characteristics.
Both coaches had rigid, conservative styles that at times seemed very antiquated. Coach “Boom” and Coach Martin were both known for their fiery tempers, and testy sideline demeanor.
The main difference is, Frank Martin for the most part won basketball games, and Will Muschamp simply didn’t, which is ultimately why he’s not longer at South Carolina.
So which is he more of? Is he the coach who raised expectations, or the one who was too rigid to adjust his style?
I personally think it’s somewhere in the middle. Sports is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ business and recency bias is always a factor. That being said, feet to the fire, I would have to say if he leans any direction it’s more so Spurrier than it is Muschamp.
Ultimately, I don’t see any “Fire Frank” tee shirts in Columbia and I genuinely think most fans will remember the good over the bad when his story is written.