Coming into the 2020-21 basketball season, South Carolina was projected to finish top five in the SEC and make a splash, as the Gamecocks returned arguably the most talented roster of the Frank Martin era.
This was a major opportunity to elevate the program and get it back to the big dance. But in just four months, the program seems to be in shambles. Led by coach Frank Martin, the Gamecocks went 6-15, finishing 12th in the SEC and missing the NCAA tournament for the 3rd consecutive year.
Why were expectations not met? A lot of the blame goes on Frank Martin himself, as a large portion of the fanbase is calling for him to be fired, as the teams energy and effort were lackluster down the stretch.
Although the team went through many Covid woes and setbacks, it is undeniable that making the postseason just one time over nine seasons is unacceptable, and with a recent dumpster fire of a year, coach Martin’s seat is getting very hot.
Should coach Martin be fired? Here are some pros and cons of if the Gamecocks were to move on from their veteran head coach.
Pro: Offers a fresh start
With still plenty of talent coming back next year, it may be important to get an early foot in the door with someone else. Keeping Martin around will waste another year of the talent already in the program and could further destroy the culture and lose yet another year of recruiting.
With a new head coach, Gamecock fans would be able to get an extra year to get behind the new guy, as well as give him an opportunity with talented players right out of the gate.
Con: Doesn’t give Martin a fair chance to prove his value
With the 2020-21 season being a prove it year for coach Martin, he wasn’t able to instill his schemes within the team early and got very behind compared to the rest of the league.
Martin claimed that December is the teams biggest month, as he adds his defensive scheme that has made South Carolina a physical team in past seasons. Without December, Martin was not given his fair chance to prove that he is the guy for the team.
An extra year with Martin gives him a fair chance to prove that he is the guy for the program.
Pro: Helps recruiting
One negative thing that can be said about Frank Martin is his failure of recruiting. Martin has never been able to recruit in state, especially with top guys like Zion Williamson. This stems from Martins aggressive coaching style, as a lot of players currently don’t want to get yelled at for a simple mistake.
A new, younger head coach would be an amazing fit, as they are great with new players and can bond on a new level.
This bond is what would get up and coming players to come to your college, not someone older who has an aggressive style.
Con: Gets rid of physical style
Over the last nine seasons, when you play a Frank Martin lead team, you have to play a full 40 minutes. No matter the talent levels, Martin has always raised the character of the athletes to play a hard, physical defense.
Once Martin gets his guys, they support him until the end. The players fight for his physical style which the players replicate on the court.
Firing someone with the toughness of Frank Martin will be almost impossible to replace in a head coaching search.
Pro: Saves program from being dug under
If the South Carolina basketball program endures another season like last, it will be dug even further under the ground. Similar to what we saw with the football program, hanging on to a coach too long can make the worst come out of people when it does end up happening.
Firing Martin now will ensure that the program can make progress and quickly bounce back and rise back to the top of the SEC.
But one more year of failure will run everything the program has going for it into the ground.
Con: Few options
If South Carolina were to fire Frank Martin, the university would need to hire a new candidate. With that being said, who would be potential candidates?
As it is right now, the University would have an extremely late jump finding someone else even half as knowledgeable as Martin. For now, if fired, Martin (if he chose) would have no trouble finding a new home.
But for the next head coach, it’s a big decision for the Gamecocks. The worst thing they can do is rush the hire and get someone who is unqualified.
In the end of the day, Frank Martin has a lot of the qualities of a great basketball coach in his arsenal, and it would be just wrong to fire Frank Martin especially after the loyalty and character he has instilled in the university.
The best thing for the Gamecocks to do is give Martin one more prove it year: a year to see what he can do when it means the most, given no excuses. Martin should have earned some loyalty from our fanbase, and giving him one more chance to prove he is the guy has been more then earned by our coach.
Although some fans may disagree, keeping Frank Martin is a matter of respect and is the decision that should be made.