Like it or not, Frank Martin is officially out as head basketball coach at the University of South Carolina.
Over the last year or two, many fans have been dissatisfied with the play of the men’s basketball team as they have clearly digressed as a program since the 2017 Final Four run. Consequently, many fans have been calling for Frank Martin’s job; after a number of disappointing seasons.
However, was the (alleged) forcing out of Frank Martin the right move? Frankly, I vote no.
Many fans are under the impression that after firing Frank Martin, South Carolina basketball is on to bigger and better things. Instead of settling for .500 in SEC play (a growing basketball conference that has only gotten stronger throughout the years), fans are waiting for a coach who will take South Carolina to the NCAA Tournament consistently, or at least once every couple of years.
The issue in this situation is that fans are placing their trust in Ray Tanner to seek out a coach who will allow Carolina to take that next step. An athletic director that fans have detested (in his current position) for years now.
Fans have complained about Ray Tanner’s hires on several occasions, what makes you so confident that he’s going to get it right this time. A number of fans would like to see Ray Tanner fired as athletic director.
Ray Tanner will inescapably be the one selecting a head coach for next season. There is absolutely no possibility that he will be removed as athletic director before a new head coach is selected.
Therefore, is there no chance that South Carolina as a basketball will move in reverse as a program after the hiring of our new head basketball coach. I believe this idea is a greater possibility than many believe.
Furthermore, what makes fans believe that talented basketball coaches will flock to the open position at South Carolina. Frank Martin is a highly respected head coach by a number of accomplished head coaches.
At Kansas State, Frank Martin reached the NCAA tournament four out of his five seasons as head coach. At South Carolina, he reached the NCAA tournament once in ten years.
Do you believe his lack of success is attributed entirely to his laziness and incapability or does South Carolina’s men’s basketball program/athletic department as whole fail to set up head coaches for success? Honestly, I blame our program/athletic department for a large portion of his setbacks as Carolina’s head coach.
Additionally, Frank Martin was fired after a much-improved season from the one prior. Even though Martin began to show improvement, despite the growing competitiveness of the SEC, the athletic department appeared to give up on him.
Finally, ticket sales stayed rather low even when the team seemed to be gaining momentum. With all of that being said, do you believe college basketball coaches with a good reputation are willing to risk it for an opportunity to coach at South Carolina.
I say, absolutely not!
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, I believe South Carolina gave up on Frank Martin too early.
After last season, I believe it was fair to claim that the firing of Frank Martin was on the horizon. Frank needed to show improvement drastically or he needed to go.
This season, Frank Martin took a young team and made them competitive in SEC play during a season where 6 SEC teams made the NCAA tournament and at least 4 of those teams remained ranked throughout the season. Had South Carolina not struggled early on, they certainly could have found themselves in the conversation for the NCAA tournament (more than likely wouldn’t have made it but would have been in the talks a time or two).
I find it unfair to claim that next season would have been worse or no better, and that South Carolina wouldn’t have had any chance at reaching the NCAA Tournament. Was Frank Martin supposed to turn a 6-15 team into a tournament team in one season? At least give him another season to build on the development from the season prior.
It absolutely eats me up that I will not be able to see many of the young players from this season develop in a Carolina uniform.
The firing of Frank Martin overall was a premature and ignorant decision. Now, South Carolina will gamble away all of their progress as a program thus far with the hopes of making the tournament more frequently.
South Carolina will now start from scratch while the majority of the SEC’s basketball programs continue to grow.
If South Carolina’s next head coach turns out to be another Darrin Horn (which is certainly a possibility), it will then be clear to all why the decision was so poor and that it carried a major risk that most fans are blind to.