Over the past three weeks we have heard all kinds of speculation about why Miami opted not to pursue Kansas State coach Frank Martin. He would need too much money. A statement that Martin refuted as his base salary was essentially the same as Frank Haith‘s base salary at Miami and was only made higher due to the fact that Martin’s teams won enough to hit performance-based incentives. His demeanor turned off Miami officials at a game at this season’s Orange Bowl Classic. A fair criticism if you are looking to run a youth league team, but some of the biggest coaching names in college basketball are well-known in media circles for their foul language. Do you think that Miami officials wouldn’t love Mike Krzyzewski on their sideline (ignoring what would likely be an astronomical salary to get him to leave Duke)? He was caught cheating at Miami Senior High. Perhaps the only fair criticism as Martin’s championship team, which featured Udonis Haslem and Steve Blake, had its 1998 state championship vacated due to recruiting violations related to using players zoned outside the school’s area. It is worth noting that Martin was never formally accused on any wrongdoing, but in the eyes of many in the Miami-Dade basketball community he was culpable.
Now Miami has opted to go with George Mason coach Jim Larranga, a fine coach to be sure and one who has actually advanced further in the NCAA Tournament than Martin ever has (Final Four versus Elite Eight), but you would be hard-pressed to find a pundit who would argue that Larranaga was a better fit for Coral Gables than Martin. This is not intended to minimize Larranaga’s accomplishments at George Mason, which are laudable as he not only made the Final Four (2006), but also made the NCAA Tournament four other times including this year where his team was considered a borderline top 25 team late in the season.