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Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin has agreed to become the next head coach at California.
Martin was the head coach at Tennessee the past three seasons, leading them from the First Four to the Sweet 16 this past season. But there was a push in Knoxville to let Martin go, particularly among the fanbase, who circulated a petition to fire Martin and hire Bruce Pearl that received 36,000 signatures.
With Martin losing Jordan McRae and Jeronne Maymon to graduation and Jarnell Stokes to the NBA, he was looking at a rebuilding year, and a rebuilding year could have gotten him fired at this time next year. This was the right decision, and it wasn’t his first attempt at getting out. Martin was a finalist for the head coaching job at Marquette last month as well where he was beaten out by Steve Wojciechowski.
The head coaching position at Cal came open last month when Mike Montgomery retired.
Martin is walking into a good spot with the Golden Bears. They lose Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon, but they return Tyrone Wallace, Jabari Bird, Jordan Mathews and Rick Kreklow, which makes for a talented perimeter core, as well as big man David Kravish. Martin can build around that.
The question now becomes who gets the Tennessee job, and one name that you should keep an eye on is Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall. Tennessee is a good gig, one with resources and a passionate fan base that competes in a conference where it’s not all that difficult to become the third-best program. Louisiana Tech’s Mike White and Donnie Tyndall of Southern Miss are two other names that could draw some interest.