The Big 12, and in fact, most of the college basketball world has been buzzing recently with the somewhat sudden, unexpected departure of Missouri's Mike Anderson. It's just the latest example of a college coach who gives off the illusion of absolute loyalty, only to break the hearts of a fan base with barely a second thought. I daresay K-State fans can relate. Even mighty Kansas knows how that feels, and they did not like it.
Obviously, comparing any of those coaches to each other or Frank Martin will always be far from a perfect analogy. First of all, HCFM started at Kansas State when he probably couldn't have gotten a head coaching job at any other big program, and he hasn't done any flirting with other schools like Anderson did with Georgia and Oregon. In fact, Frank has illustrated his loyalty to K-State through words and actions at virtually every opportunity, sometimes even going a little too far in showing his Wildcat Pride.
Still, as I feel a certain amount of empathy for our friends at Rock M Nation, I can't help but wonder if there's a school out there that could convince HCFM to leave Manhattan. I think rational Missouri fans wouldn't have begrudged Anderson going back home to Arkansas if he hadn't said and done some stupid things, like the infamous "I want to retire here" quote and the awful way he handled the courting from Arkansas with the MU administration, and more importantly, the players.
I feel fairly safe saying that I don't think HCFM would leave solely for money, just like I completely disagree with those Missouri fans who think that had anything to do with CMA leaving (he reportedly turned down just as much money from UGA and Oregon). But can I say with anything close to absolute certainty that HCFM is going to stay in Manhattan, as long as he has success and KSU continues to treat him well?
Of course not, and unless you have a really close relationship with Frank or know about some another weird secret contract, neither do any of us. If you think you do, then you're either incredibly naive or haven't been paying attention to big-time college athletics.
Before I set the criteria for schools to look at, let me reiterate that I DO NOT think HCFM is leaving anytime soon, and I want him to stay, so please don't call me a traitor or non-believer or anything like that. I believe he is sincere about his desire to stay here when he gushes about Manhattan and the program he has helped restore.
Also, I'm not in the business of reading people's minds, so I'm just going to try to point out the potential appeal of each job without speculating on whether I think Frank would actually take it. I'll leave that responsibility to the commenters.
After the jump, you can check out my list of
eight seven programs that meet at least one of the following requirements: 1) Have some sort of sentimental or coaching connection to HCFM; 2) Are markedly superior to K-State in tradition and resources and may be open in the next two to three years. That means schools like Duke, UNC, Michigan State, UCLA, etc. aren't listed, but it's safe to assume that any college coach would perk up a little if one of them came calling.
Feel free to let me know any schools you think I might have missed.
Florida International/Northeastern: OK, so these two are serious long shots. But I feel obligated to list them because they are Martin's alma mater (FIU) and the place where he started coaching college hoops (NU). Unless VCU wins a national championship and the CAA magically transforms into a major conference, both of these schools are simply too small and not relevant enough to attract any semi-successful major college coach. Just about the only advantage they would offer over K-State is that Miami and Boston would be cooler places to live than Manhattan.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack make the list mostly because they are searching for a new coach and HCFM's name has at least come up in wild Twitter speculation, which is always fun. Some people associated with the NC State program are under the delusion that because of its proximity to Durham and Chapel Hill, it's an elite basketball program. This is clearly not the case, but they do have three things K-State does not: 2 national championships and an almost 20,000 seat basketball arena.
Purdue: The one bright spot in the Mizzou saga is that it could have a happy ending , at the expense of the Boilermakers. Again, Purdue offers superior facilities and superior tradition to Kansas State (22 Big Ten titles and a quasi-national championship in 1932) plus a more fertile recruiting ground, albeit one with better competition. Unlike NC State, Purdue also boasts considerably more recent success than Kansas State and I think it's safe to say that if they do lose Painter, they're going to be more than willing to open up their pocketbook to bring in a big name. Sorry, Missouri. Good luck finding someone good who wants to be at Mizzou forever.... For the record, I'd love to see Shaka Smart in Columbia, but it doesn't seem all that likely.
Indiana: It's true that Indiana has been awful since about 2005, and Tom Crean only just completed the third year of a 10-year contract. But this is still freaking Indiana, where basketball is king, and I think they've still got enough pride left to be quite concerned about ending another awful season on a nine-game losing streak. Plus, this school already stole one Big 12 coach who said he wouldn't have left his school for many other places. Then again, Kelvin Sampson was a slimy asshole, or the exact opposite of the Frank Martin we know and love.
Cincinnati: It was with the Bearcats that Frank really hit the big time, and keep in mind that he didn't really leave on unfriendly terms like his boss did. The draw of coaching in the Big East and in a huge college basketball town like Cincinnati has to be appealing. It should be pointed out, however, that Mick Cronin has had enough (underrated) success to make a vacancy here in the short term rather unlikely.
Florida: Obviously, it seems unlikely Billy Donovan is leaving anytime soon. But if he does have an Urban Meyer-esque midlife crisis, you have to imagine this is a school that might try to poach HCFM. Unless you've been living under a rock, I don't need to tell you about Florida's superior resources or excellent basketball tradition, even though the SEC has been incredibly weak the last two years. You'll all probably recall that Frank grew up in Miami and coached high school basketball there for years, so he probably knows something about UF basketball and might even have some personal connections.
Miami: Provided he was honest with Kansas State and didn't change his mind three weeks after a strong declaration to stay loyal and then provide some remarkably flimsy excuses, I think this is the one job where I can say with certainty that I would hold no ill will towards Frank Martin if he accepted. Sure, Miami doesn't have the tradition of Kansas State and their athletic department is kind of a mess, but it's still the place where he was born and raised, the place where he went to high school and college, and the place where he started his coaching career.
Yes, he made some serious enemies and didn't exactly leave on friendly terms, and Miami will certainly always be a football town/school. Still, you have to imagine a family guy like Frank still has a deep emotional connection there, and he already has a recruiting pipeline set up. Plus, some anonymous Nebraska idiot said it might happen on a message board. Seriously, is there anything you can't find a rumor for on the Internet these days?
The good news here is that although the Hurricanes have stagnated since a breakout season in 2007-2008, Frank Haith is under contract through the 2012-2013 season and has said he wants to stay at Miami for life, so it will still be at least a little while before Miami even starts to think about coming after HCFM.