Today, he's part of that Wildcat legend. Martin was named Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year Sunday by both the Big 12 coaches and the media voting in the Associated Press poll.
Martin joins a lineup that includes Dana Altman (1993), Jack Hartman (1975 and 1977), Cotton Fitzsimmons (1970) and, Tex Winter (1958, 1959 and 1960) as past Wildcat coaches to be decorated with such an honor.
Upon arriving on campus and receiving his first handshake from the legendary Ernie Barrett, Martin said, "From that moment on I started understanding what a special place this is. It's a special environment that K-Staters have. It's just amazing how lucky I am to have the opportunity to live a childhood dream at such an incredible place."
Martin then told how just six years ago he interviewed for a job that had "… an average attendance of 127 people. There are a lot of jobs out there like that out there, so I'm blessed. I'm fortunate to get my first opportunity at such an incredible place with so many incredible people who are willing to sacrifice to help us succeed. There are so many people who care here. That's what K-State's all about."
Martin's Wildcats are 24-6 entering the Big 12 Championships as the No. 2 seed beginning Thursday in Kansas City. His three-year coaching record for the ‘Cats is 67-30, which includes a 30-18 mark in Big 12 play. He's the first head coach in KSU history to coach teams to 20-victory seasons in each of his first three seasons.
Saying it was a "well-deserved honor," K-State athletics director John Currie added, "I think we all knew that we had a pretty special group of guys, but Frank did a tremendous job of getting them to realize their potential, and I know that we are in store for an exciting postseason."
Both Martin and Currie also gave credit to the K-State assistants who support the head coach. As Martin said, "All you do is see me rant and rave."
Coming from the Southeastern Conference at Tennessee, Currie added, "I don't believe that there is a better league in the country top to bottom in terms of 12 solid, solid head coaches. Even some head coaches that don't have good records right now, are solid, solid head coaches."
Currie added that after the season that he and Martin would sit down and "… figure out a way to make some adjustments (in salaries) for all the coaches, and they will all receive adjustments."
PULLEN, SAMUELS, CLEMENTE RECEIVE HONORS:
In addition, Pullen landed a position on the All-Defensive Team, while Jamar Samuels was voted the Sixth Man Award.
"The first person I called was my mom," beamed Samuels. "This means a lot to me. The thanks goes out to my coaches and my teammates who pushed me hard so I could win this award." Pullen also gave credit to the cast of Wildcats around him, adding, "Brad (Underwood) told me all summer that I could be good enough to be first-team, but I always told him, ‘Nahhh, there are too many great guards in the league.' But he told me for this team to be great, that I would have to play to the level of a first-team all-Big 12 player."
Knows for his 19-point per game average, Pullen added, "I'm more proud about being named to the defensive team."
For Clemente, it's the second straight year that he has been named as a second-team selection.
ALL-BIG 12 CONFERENCE AWARDS
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Cole Aldrich, Kansas
SIXTH MAN AWARD:
Jamar Samuels, K-State
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Frank Martin, K-State
Alec Burks, CU; Marquis Gilstrap, ISU; Xavier Henry, KU; Zaire Taylor, MU; Willie Warren, OU; Obi Muonelo, OSU; Avery Bradley, UT; John Robinson, Texas Tech; Mike Singletary, Texas Tech
ALL ROOKIE TEAM:
Ekpe Udoh, Baylor; Alec Burks, Colorado; Xavier Henry, Kansas; Tommy Mason-Griffin, Oklahoma; Avery Bradley, Texas