Frank Martin’s Antics No Longer Funny
By Jim Weber
Remember when we all thought Frank Martin’s antics were funny?
Whenever he would explode on the sidelines at Kansas State, we’d all laugh at the funny Photoshopped images and his “greatest hits” on YouTube. ESPN’s “College GameDay” even did a feature in which K-State players did their best Martin impressions and Rece Davis playfully remarked that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
But it’s not funny anymore - especially not to South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner.
It stopped being funny after the 2011-2012 season, when there were rumors that there would have been a mass exodus of K-State players if Martin stayed. Before that could happen, Martin bolted for South Carolina.
All the losing Martin has faced in Columbia - the Gamecocks are just 25-37 so far during his tenure - has only made Martin more combustible.
After a loss to LSU in February of 2013, Martin didn’t just throw his team under the bus. He threw them under a tank. Among his post-game comments were:
- “If I’ve lost them, then they better disappear, because it’s going to be hard for them to be here next year if I’ve lost them 10 months into the job.”
- “I’ve been doing this for 28 years, nine of which as a junior varsity high school coach. That means I’ve dealt with 14-year-olds. I’ve never been more embarrassed to call myself a basketball coach than I am today.”
- “If this was the NBA, we’d fine them, we’d take their money, we’d release them and say, ‘Good luck with ever finding another job.’ ”
- “I have never been so embarrassed. I shouldn’t coach basketball ever again if this is how my team plays.”
Martin has never shied away from blaming his team publicly and I understand things can get ugly while weeding out players that aren’t fit to play in your regime (see: Leach, Mike). But the length Martin went to embarrass his team wasn’t funny, it was just pathetic.
This past January, Martin apologized for berating guard Brenton Williams, saying, “There’s no place for me or any other coach to speak to Brent or any other athlete the way I did that moment there.”
Considering what Martin hasn’t apologized for saying to players in the past, we can only imagine what he deemed to be going too far.
College basketball coaches simply can’t act like Bobby Knight anymore; even Knight himself learned that the hard way. Players talk and form revolts. Parents whisper to each other at games about complaining to the athletic director. And fans capture coaches saying inappropriate things on the sideline and share them on social media.
That leads us to Tuesday night when the Gamecocks played No. 1 Florida close in the first half before getting blown out in the end, 72-46.
Naturally, Martin went nuclear on a player as the game slipped away, staring daggers into guard Duane Notice during a timeout and then appearing to scream into his face, “Answer the f*cking question, a**hole!”
This is completely inexcusable.
Martin appears oblivious that South Carolina is a rebuilding job, not a place he can win right away like K-State. He should be empowering his players to help build South Carolina’s program instead of taking out all his frustration on them, as if none of the players are also fed up with all the losing during the last two years.
Martin should be especially positive after the Gamecocks’ past two games, during which they upset No. 17 Kentucky (by far the signature win of his tenure) and played the top-rated Gators even for the first 20 minutes. He’s dangerously close to the players tuning him out if they play their best basketball only to still get berated by their head coach when they mess up.
Ray Tanner faces a very difficult decision at this point. Martin apologized less than two months ago for berating a player. How could it have been worse than what Martin did Tuesday night?
Tanner can force Martin to apologize for this latest incident, suspend him for the final regular season game against Mississippi State for “strike two” or just sit by and watch as Martin continues to steer the crazy train off the rails. It’s a difficult call as fans wonder if Martin - undeniably a good coach - can rebuild the program before he does something crazy to get himself fired.
One thing’s for sure: the joke is up.
Bottom Photo Credit: Jeff Blake/USA Today Sports