Saturday on the CBS pre-game show, Kansas State coach Frank Martin was asked about the swirling rumors involving South Carolina. He issued what turned out to be a non-denial denial when he said: “The stuff that gets out these days, I look at it as a compliment that we’re doing our job the right way at Kansas State that these sort of things get out.”
This morning, Kellis Robinett of the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle has said that he called Martin’s agent, who confirmed that they have had conversations with South Carolina. Kent Babb, who also writes for the Kansas City Star on the Chiefs beat, and is a South Carolina alum, said that the trustees were having a meeting to discuss a contractual matter, likely Martin. Babb just now tweeted out that the Columbia, South Carolina paper is reporting the hire.
Frank Martin flirted with Miami last year, which was understandable since he coached high school basketball there and had ties to the area, even if the job was not as attractive. But make no mistake – leaving Kansas State for South Carolina would be a step back. I doubt Martin is doing this for some vague stability because of the all the football realignment.
South Carolina has not won a NCAA tournament game since 1972. You trade out Kansas for Kentucky, but also play in the half of the SEC that has Billy Donovan’s Gators, plus three other perennial tournament contenders in Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Kansas State has made the tournament 26 times to South Carolina’s eight. He has no ties to South Carolina, unlike Gregg Marshall of Wichita State who was from the area.
You can understand why South Carolina would be interested – Martin has done a solid job at Kansas State taking over for Bob Huggins. Less clear: why Martin is taking this job? Was it the one that was open, and he has gotten cross-wise with his AD? The Jamar Samuels suspension happened nine days ago. (Martin, by the way, said Sunday that he gave his former players money when they needed it while coaching in high school in Miami). I guess it’s possible that Martin was upset about that and initiated contact. It just seems like a drastic move that makes little sense for Martin other than getting out of Manhattan.