If Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton had taken out a "Help Wanted" ad for the position of head basketball coach after firing Bruce Pearl last week, it would have probably been something similar to this:
Borderline-elite basketball program with NCAA issues seeks young, experienced, motivated coach with persevering mentality, willing to endure short-term difficulties with the potential of enormous long-term success.
Obviously, there were only a handful of candidates that a "Help Wanted" ad like that would have appealed to.
There was never a chance that Jaime Dixon, Jay Wright, or Brad Stevens would have been attracted to that sort of job. Dixon and Wright already have great jobs in the best college basketball conference in the country.
Stevens, who just took Butler to its second consecutive Final Four, should not have to endure any difficulty when and if he decides to leave Butler. Stevens can dictate the school, the price, and the exact situation he may eventually land in.
If you're still on that Shaka Smart bandwagon, there's no way he fits Tennessee's situation either. Smart was basically handed a roster full of talent when Anthony Grant left for Alabama two seasons ago.
Obviously, he can coach incredibly talented players. But Smart has no history of overcoming anything other than a No. 1 seed in a tournament that basically amounts to a crap-shoot.
The candidate list for this job was never going to include the biggest names or the brightest stars. Tennessee's situation was the most unique of any high-profile job opening available.
The next Tennessee head coach was going to have the distinct privelage of taking over for a hugely popular, incredibly successful, celebrity of a coach in Bruce Pearl. On top of all that, the new head coach was going to have to live with the uncertainty surrounding the program as a result of Pearl's NCAA transgressions.
It's not that the Tennessee job is a bad one. The improvements made under Bruce Pearl extend far beyond six straight NCAA tournament appearances, two Sweet 16's, one Elite 8, and a No. 1 ranking. Pearl made this a borderline elite program with facilities upgrades, game sell-outs, and national exposure.
Problem is, Pearl nearly tore down everything he spent six years building up at the end.
So, Tennessee went with another mid-major hire--just as Pearl was in 2005. But this one comes with a slightly different pedigree.
Cuonzo Martin has only three years of head coaching experience. He has not coached a single NCAA tournament game. He's never taken a Division Two school to a national title.
Martin doesn't scream and yell at officials. There will never be a moment when ESPN cameras catch the coach cursing at a player. He likely will not paint his chest orange for a Lady Vols basketball game. There's virtually no chance he'll try to seduce Erin Andrews on national television.
The closest Martin has come to a postseason championship as a coach is when his Missouri State Bears won the CollegeInsider.com Tournament last season.
This is not a sexy hire. Not even close.
Martin barely spoke above a whisper at his introductory press conference. There was no flashiness. No "we're gonna sing Rocky Top when..." moment.
But Cuonzo Martin doesn't have to speak above a whisper or scream at players or purposely get technicals to get his team motivated. Martin doesn't have to talk at all.
Martin's actions speak louder than some flashy lifestyle or a pithy quote for tomorrow's headline.
Despite two knee surgeries before the end of his senior year of high school, Martin earned a scholarship to play for Gene Keady at Purdue in the early 90's. Martin fought through persistent knee problems to become one of the top three-point shooters in the nation his last two seasons at Purdue.
Martin briefly played in the NBA before going to Italy to play pro basketball. It was there that his career was cut short by a bout with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
After kicking cancer's butt, Martin finished his degree at Purdue. Keady then followed through on his promise to hire Martin as an assistant.
Before any of that happened, Martin grew up in one of the most notorious neighborhoods in America. Cuonzo Martin is one of very few success stories to come out of East Saint Louis, Illinois where the crime rate is more than double the national average.
After a successful stint as an assistant under Gene Keady at Purdue, and later associate head coach under Matt Painter, Martin was hired at Missouri State.
Upon his arrival in Springfield, Missouri, the coach inherited five scholarship players. His first team won 11 games.
In 2011--two years removed from that inaugural season--Missouri State won 26 games, the Missouri Valley regular season championship, and Martin won the conference's Coach of the Year award.
If you were looking for someone who would talk about winning big or someone who can rally the troops with his showmanship, you won't find that in Cuonzo Martin.
What you will find, however, is someone who has been there. Cuonzo Martin has lived through adversity. Not only has he lived through it, he thrived in it. He fed off of it.
Considering Tennessee's current situation, Cuonzo Martin fits the job description to a T--a Power T.