Through two-plus seasons in Knoxville, Cuonzo Martin has compiled a 56-39 record with the Volunteers. Tennessee is 17-11 (8-7 SEC) this year, currently sitting sixth in the conference standings.
Lately, some have speculated that Martin is on the hot seat. To make matters worse, former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, now an analyst with ESPN, is eligible to coach again beginning in 2014-2015. Despite being fired by the Volunteers three years ago, the Tennessee fan base still shows love for its charismatic ex-head coach.
Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings, Martin’s opponent on Saturday, is in his corner, saying it’s “absurd” his job status is being questioned.
“He’s in his third year and that is ridiculous. He’s doing a good job with their team,” Stallings told Jeff Lockridge of the Tennessean before practice on Thursday afternoon. “I think they’re getting ready to make the NCAA tournament. It takes some time when you go in there and you have to change some things and change the way things are done.
“Hopefully, the powers that be over at Tennessee will tune those idiots out and give (Martin) the kind of time he deserves to do the job he needs to do.”
Tennessee was picked to finish third in the SEC back in October — receiving one first-place vote — behind Kentucky and Florida. Although, the Volunteers are still squarely on the bubble heading into that last three games of the regular season. At the moment, Tennessee is listed as the First Five Teams Out in College Basketball Talk’s latest edition of Bracketology while SEC opponents Missouri and Arkansas are in the Last Five Teams In.
Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday, with the tip scheduled for noon.