Frank Martin prefers Cocks, leaves K-State for South Carolina

Now former K-State head coach Frank Martin has agreed to become South Carolina’s new coach was introduced this morning at the same time that K-State AD John Currie’s held his own press conference.

Martin’s, 45, who went 117-54 at K-State, contract is worth $11.9 million over six years and will be the fourth highest paid coach in the SEC behind Kentucky’s John Calipari, Florida’s Billy Donovan and Arkansas’ Mike Anderson and nearly in the Top 10 in the country.

“Hardest thing I have ever done, signing my $2 million contract and having to call my former players who can barely afford to eat,” Martin said on Twitter after his press conference. “So tough.”

S. Carolina would pay Martin 66 percent of guaranteed money per year for remaining years of his contract if he were to be fired. If Martin leaves after one year, he will owe USC 4M. Drops to 3M, then 1.5M. South Carolina also paid 1M to K-State for Martin’s buyout.

“You have to do your due diligence, and quite frankly, I think we got the right person in Frank Martin,” South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman said.

Some of the notes from the Martin’s press conference:

  • South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier and two-time defending national championship baseball coach Ray Tanner came to Martin’s introduction.
  • Martin started his presser by thanking K-State, the community, the fan base, administration and the players for “believing in us.”
  • Martin added that he’s been exhausted for the past three days, but was so excited that he could not sleep last night.
  • Martin added that each of his last two graduating classes at K-State left as the winningest in school history.
  • He immediately promised to “put 18,000 in this arena.
  • When asked if their was a connection between Jamar Samuels incident and his decision, he said, “I don’t make decisions based on one experience.

Currie’s press conference was much more interesting (Which was pretty awful. He wanted to come off as wanting to portray confidence and leadership, instead he came off as awkward, strange and comical.

  • President Schultz sung Currie’s praises, asserting his complete and total confidence in Currie.
  • Schultz added that the Jamar Samuels situation was handled in a “completely appropriate fashion” and that although he appreciated Martin’s passion, coach was wrong about the suspension adding that fans wanted them to play a player that they knew was ineligible saying, “Folks, we’re not going to do that.” Later it was said that Samuels left his Western Union receipt on the floor of a Manhattan grocery store…and it was taken to compliance. Who does that? Maybe it was the Ecokat who turned Samuels in for not recycling his receipt.
  • Schultz PLEADED with the K-State fanbase to rally around whoever the next head coach is and Currie.
  • Currie said he knew on Saturday that Martin was interested in the South Carolina job and that he would take it if offered.
  • Currie babbled on about the facilities, seemingly trying to state his case to any coaches to may want the job.
  • It then became evident – clearly – that Currie was reading off a script, and doing it very poorly.
  • He added that any reports about the K-State job search are “simply not credible.”
  • Currie said he approached Martin about a new contract on Feb. 1 which would include a “significant enhancement” to his contract to keep him as K-State coach long term. Martin wanted to keep focus on his team – otherwise stating, “F**k You.”
  • Currie gave an awkward pause then said he wants to keep things private when asked if any players ever came to him complaining about Martin.
  • The bombshell was Schultz saying when he hired Currie, there was already a list of people he’d have to replace Martin.
  • Currie on the coaching search, “This task will have my sole attention until it is completed.”

This is a big blow for the K-State basketball program. He resurrected a once proud program, finishing no lower than fifth in the Big 12 in five seasons, making the NCAA Tournament four times.

“I want to thank coach Martin for everything he has done for K-State basketball,” Schultz said. “I wish him well.”

***

So, who is to blame?

There is a lot of speculation on Martin’s departure. Some blame Currie, who several sources indicated did very little to keep Martin and that he created a unhealthy working environment – or at least that is the perception. If this is true, it has to be unacceptable to K-State fans.

Martin added in his South Carolina presser that he had no problems with Currie and that an “alleged bad relationship” wasn’t a factor in leaving.

Frank isn’t one to complain about someone behind his back,” a source told the Kansas City Star’s Kellis Robinett, “but I can tell you he doesn’t get along with that gentleman.” Robinett reports that the relationship reached the breaking point during the tournament when Currie and Martin differed over whether to hold Jamar Samuels out of a game against Syracuse because he allegedly was wired $200 by a former AAU coach. Martin was so upset, the Star reports, that he was ready to listen to South Carolina.

“Frank is just looking to be happy,” the source said. “He wants to work at a place where he has the full support of his athletic director and president. He wants to be left alone so he can do what he does best — coach.”

Currie and Schultz should have given Martin whatever he wanted to keep him.

Others blame Martin. One rumor is as many as SIX players were planning on transferring if Martin had stayed. One of those was for certain to be Overland Park sophomore Will Spradling. CurtisKitchen.com’s Curtis Kitchen reported this on Friday. I had a VERY GOOD source very close to the situation tell me back in January that Spradling would transfer when the season was over, the breaking point coming when Martin told Spradling and teammate roomates that he hoped their “house burns down” following a game.

Maybe with Martin leaving, Spradling will stay.

Whatever it was, there was definitely some sort of a severed relationship between the two, even though Currie said he believed that “Frank Martin and I, I believe, had a very strong relationship.”

Schultz added that is is “distressing” to see the “unfair characterization” of Currie and Martin’s relationship. I simply do not believe this. There are facts and information stating otherwise.

Until more comes out (if it ever does), I will assume both sides are at fault. It is true that Martin has flirted with AT least three programs prior to this year. He was down on his knees pleading for the Miami job last season after Frank Haith went to Mizzou, but was turned down. There was also Oregon and DePaul as far back as three year’s ago.

Martin is leaving the K-State program in good shape, but I will be surprised if their next coach goes to the Big Dance in four of his first five year’s as head coach, unless it is some sort of a GRAND SLAM hire. Whoever the coach is next year will likely win with plenty of talent returning and losing just Jamar Samuels (was the Samuels suspension the event that made Martin’s mind up that he had enough of Currie?) and walk-on Victor Oyejele. But, Martin’s Top 50 recruit, 7-footer Robert Upshaw conveniently has not signed his letter of intent and will more than likely follow Martin to South Carolina.

I do feel bad for K-State fans, but we (Mizzou) have been there, done that. Mike Anderson flirted with Georgia, then Oregon before sneaking out the back door to Arkansas. It sucks losing a coach, especially one who turned the program around (another Anderson-Martin similarity) into a winner, then leaves.

Initially the rumor was KSU’s AD did not take the Martin rumors seriously because he thought Martin was bluffing, or did he? Like I stated above, maybe he wanted Martin gone, but had no ground to terminate Martin because he was a winner and had to use other means – such as straining a relationship to force him out.

“We do not have people out combing the trash cans of Manhattan, looking for problems,” Currie said about NCAA compliance and the “rumor” that he was looking for whatever evidence he could to get rid of Martin. Yet, somehow John a “magical” receipt showed up in your office. Strange, how did it get there? Some random shopper just picked up this receipt in secretly dropped it in Currie’s office? That is comical. We are honestly expected to believe that someone at a grocery store sold Samuels out…and since when do Western Union receipts have names on them? CLOWN SUITS!

You don’t leave KSU for South Carolina unless either your relationship with your AD is incredibly toxic, or you haven’t thought your decision through very well. I mean South Carolina? A program that has had LITTLE success since Eddie Fogler, who went 66-28 over a 3-year span (1996-98) in guiding USC to a 2-seed (only to lost to 15-seed Coppin State) and their first (and only) SEC conference championship (15-1) and a 1998 NCAA Tournament berth, but never returned to the tournament again. Since, the Gamecocks have been to the NIT four times, winning it in back-to-back years in 2005-2006.

I personally want nothing to do with Martin teams in the future, as he certainly knows how to beat Missouri. But, this isn’t the easiest place to win, and it could be a career killer…or it could make him a legend.

***

As much as it is out there that the SEC does not care about basketball, take a peak at the SEC East (which doesn’t exist when it comes to division standings but still probably exists when it comes to scheduling) in basketball:

Kentucky (favorite to win this, and every year’s, national title)
Florida (two national titles in the last decade, Elite Eight this year)
Missouri (2-seed, 30 wins this year)
Vanderbilt (5-seed, 25 wins this year)
Tennessee (recent Elite Eight appearance)
Georgia (terrible this year but made NCAA Tourney as 10-seed last year)
South Carolina (terrible for a while but just hired Mizzou’s kryptonite)

Now, I don’t expect Martin to win right away, but when/if he does, that is a very solid division. Mizzou could be facing 12 games versus an SEC East that is far rougher than the Big 12 North ever was.

I also find it funny that when Mizzou left for the SEC, Martin talked about the league getting better and getting rid of whiners. #Hypocricy

Then he says, “The unity of the SEC speaks for itself.” #MoneyTalks #TruthHurts

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