Regardless, the man who rallied the 2013-14 Vols from a 16-11 start to a 24-13 finish and Sweet 16 bid officially has made a parallel move to the University of California. His Tennessee critics are celebrating. His Tennessee supporters are mourning. His Tennessee bosses are scrambling to fill a job that has been vacated for the second time in three years – first by Bruce Pearl's firing in the spring of 2011 and now by Martin's bolting in the spring of 2014.
So, where do the Vols look for their next coach?
What follows are some viable candidates:
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State: He's clearly the people's choice, whether he's a realistic choice or not. A Southerner by birth (Greenwood, S.C.), the 51-year-old Marshall led the Shockers to the Final Four in 2013, then followed with a 34-0 regular season and a No. 1 seed for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Wichita State lost 78-76 to Kentucky in the Round of 32 and finished 35-1, bringing Marshall's record with the Shockers to 174-71 and his overall record to 368-154. Prior to Wichita he spent nine years directing the program at Winthrop, where he notched six Big South regular-season titles, seven tourney titles, four Coach of the Year awards and six NCAA Tournament bids. In 16 seasons as a head coach he has 10 NCAA Tournament bids. PLUS: He's a proven winner. MINUS: Why would he leave a thriving program at Wichita for Tennessee?
Shaka Smart, Virginia Commonwealth: Born in Madison, Wisc., and schooled at Kenyon College, he's just 37 years old yet recognized as one of the top coaches in the game. The former Clemson and Florida assistant has a 137-46 record (.749 winning percentage) with four NCAA bids in five years, including a Final Four appearance in 2011. PLUS: He's a great coach. MINUS: He's a real longshot to leave VCU.
Archie Miller, Dayton: Each March a mid-major coach becomes famous for making a Cinderella-type run in the NCAA Tournament. Miller is The Guy for 2014 after guiding the Flyers to the Elite Eight, where they lost 62-52 to top-ranked Florida. The 35-year-old Beaver Falls (Pa.) native is the brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller. Archie assisted at Western Kentucky, North Carolina State, Arizona State and Ohio State before taking the Dayton reins three years ago. His first three teams have gone 20-12 (NIT), 17-14 (no postseason bid) and 26-11. His career record is 63-38 overall, 26-22 in Atlantic 10 play. PLUS: He appears to be a coach on the rise. MINUS: He has a short resume' and just signed a contract extension with Dayton.
Michael White, Louisiana Tech: Born in Dunedin (Fla.) 37 years ago, he is the son of Duke athletics director Kevin White. He played college ball at Ole Miss, and assisted Andy Kennedy at the school from 2005-11. In three years as head coach at Tech he has gone 18-16, 27-7 and 29-8, with conference titles in 2013 and 2014. His 2013 team advanced to Round 2 of the NIT and his 2014 squad reached the NIT quarterfinals before losing to FSU. Carrying a .705 winning percentage (74-31), he appears to be a coach on the rise. PLUS: He is among 15 finalists for the 2014 Skip Prosser Award, based on hoops excellence and integrity. MINUS: He has never coached a game in the NCAA Tournament. (Then again, neither had Cuonzo Martin when Tennessee hired him.)
Donnie Tyndall, Southern Miss: Though born 43 years ago in Grand Rapids, Mich., he has spent most of his life in the South. A graduate of Morehead State, he assisted at LSU (1997-2001) and at Middle Tennessee (2002-06) before taking the reins at his alma mater. Assuming a team that had gone 4-23 under Kyle Macy the year before, Tyndall posted a 12-18 record in Year 1 and a 15-15 mark in Year 2. The 2008-09 team went 20-16 and won a first-round NCAA Tournament game. Tyndall went 24-11 in 2010 and 25-10 in 2011, upsetting Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Following an 18-14 record in 2012, he accepted the reins at Southern Miss. After going 27-10 in Year 1, he went 29-7 in Year 2, making the NIT quarterfinals each season. PLUS: He has a .767 winning percentage (56-17) at Southern Miss. MINUS: He was 114-85 at Morehead, a .576 winning percentage.
Will Wade, UT-Chattanooga: Born in Nashville 31 years ago, he assumed a UTC program that had gone 55-74 the previous four years (13-19 in 2012-13) and went 18-15 in Year 1, including a 12-4 Southern Conference record. Despite his inexperience, Wade is highly regarded because of his energy and his background. A graduate of Clemson, he served as director of basketball operations there, then spent two years as a full-time assistant/recruiting coordinator under Tommy Amaker at Harvard. Next came four years under Shaka Smart at Virginia Commonwealth, resulting in a 111-37 record, three NCAA Tournament bids and a Final Four appearance in 2011. Called "an absolute star" by Shaka Smart when he was hired by UT-C, Wade utilizes an "up-tempo in-your-face game" according to the school website. PLUS: He's learned under Tommy Amaker and Shaka Smart. MINUS: He has just one year's experience as a head coach.
Chris Mack, Xavier: An Ohio native (Cincinnati) and Xavier grad, Mack seems entrenched at his alma mater. Maybe not, though. Despite four NCAA bids in five years with the Musketeers, the 44-year-old Mack is hearing some grumbling. He set the bar pretty high by going 26-9 overall (14-2 Atlantic 10) in 2010, then 24-8 (15-1 Atlantic 10) in 2011. He slipped to 23-13 (10-6) in 2012 and 17-14 (9-7) in 2013. With Xavier joining the Big East, he went 21-13 (10-8 conference) in 2014 but dropped four of his last five games. He barely made this year's Dance as one of the "last four in," then fell 74-59 to North Carolina State and missed the 64-team bracket. PLUS: He's a quality coach with an overall record of 111-57. MINUS: Pulling him away from his alma mater may be difficult, even with his seat a little warm.
Ben Howland: You notice a guy who made the Final Four three years in a row, which the 56-year-old Howland did at UCLA in 2006, 2007 and 2008. After going 79-59 at Northern Arizona and 89-40 at Pitt, he assumed a 2004 Bruin squad that had gone 10-19 under Steve Lavin the year before. He went 11-17 and 18-11 in his first two years, then put together a 32-7 team in 2006 that lost in the NCAA title game. Next came records of 30-6 and 35-4, with two more Final Four appearances in '07 and '08. After making The Dance just three of the next five years and failing to advance past the Round of 32, he was fired. Sporting a 398-205 overall record that includes a 233-107 mark at UCLA, Howland could be the "splash hire" if Tennessee brass decide to swing for the fences. PLUS: He's a high-profile coach who would energize the fan base. MINUS: He may be too pricey for Tennessee's budget.
Mick Cronin, Cincinnati: Inheriting a mess following the abrupt firing of Bob Huggins and an Andy Kennedy interim year, the 42-year-old Cincinnati native gradually stabilized the program. After going 11-19, 13-19, 18-14 and 19-16 in his first four years, he guided the Bearcats to records of 26-9, 26-11, 22-12 and 27-7 the past four seasons. He led Cincy to the NCAA Tournament's third round in 2011, the Sweet 16 in 2012, the second round in 2013 and '14. He previously coached at Murray State, which he led to NCAA Tournament bids in 2004 (28-6) and 2006 (24-7). His winning percentage at Cincinnati is just .602 (162-107) but he's at .638 (231-131) for his career. PLUS: He makes just $1.5 million per year and is unhappy with dilapidated U.S. Bank Arena. MINUS: Despite his frustration with Cincy's facility, he recently said he has "zero desire" to leave his hometown school.
Tad Boyle, Colorado: If you can overlook his Jerry Green ties (1994-97 at Oregon, 1997-98 at Tennessee), he has a strong resume. Born 51 years ago in Pueblo, Colo., his four years with the Buffaloes have produced records of 24-14, 24-11, 21-12 and 28-12. He made the NCAA Tournament's third round in 2012, the second round in 2013 and 2014. Prior to his current job Boyle posted a 56-66 record at Northern Colorado capped by a 25-8 mark in 2009-10 that earned him Big Sky Coach of the Year honors and made him a finalist for Mid-Major Coach of the Year nationally. His overall record is just 148-115 but his record at Colorado is an impressive 92-49. PLUS: He already has a link to Tennessee, having served as director of basketball operations in '97 and '98. MINUS: He has referred to Colorado as his "dream job."
Ray Harper, Western Kentucky: His career winning percentage of .816 (382-86) gets your attention right off the bat. Most of those wins, however, came at Kentucky Wesleyan of Div. II (242-45) and Oklahoma City of the NAIA (95-17). His record with the Hilltoppers is an unspectacular 50-33, although he did get WKU to Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament in both 2012 and 2013. Born in Greenville, Ky., and schooled at Kentucky Wesleyan, the 52-year-old Harper was a seven-time Div. II Coach of the Year at his alma mater, posting two national titles and four runner-up finishes. PLUS: He's been hell on wheels at the lower levels of competition. MINUS: He hasn't shown he can win big at the major-college level.
Tim Miles, Nebraska: A native of Doland, South Dakota, this 44-year-old attended the University of Maryland but has spent most of his career in the Midwest. He posted a .667 winning percentage (78-39) at Div. II Southwest Minnesota State, then went 16-12, 16-12, 20-8 at North Dakota State. He elevated Colorado State from 7-25 in Year 1 to 20-12 in Year 5 and led that team all the way to the NCAA Tournament's second round. His first Nebraska team went 15-18 in 2013 but he rebounded with a 19-12 mark and another trip to the NCAA Tournament's second round in 2014. PLUS: He probably won't cost an arm and a leg. MINUS: Though a solid coach, his hiring would hardly excite the fan base.
Bryce Drew, Valparaiso: This 39-year-old native of Baton Rouge has good bloodlines. His brother, Scott, is head coach at Baylor, and their father previously coached Valparaiso. Bryce Drew, who spent six years in the NBA as a backup point guard, went 22-12 overall (14-4 Horizon League) as a rookie head coach in 2012, guiding his team to the NIT. He went 26-8 overall (13-3 Horizon League) while guiding his team to Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament in 2013. His 2014 team went 18-16 overall (9-7 Horizon League) and lost in Round 1 of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. PLUS: He won Horizon League titles in his first two years as a head coach. MINUS: He signed a 10-year contract with Valpo in December.
Lawrence Frank, Brooklyn Nets assistant: I had this guy on my rough draft but deleted him before publishing it. I honestly don't think he's what Tennessee needs. He's getting some love on talk radio, however, so I thought I'd share his particulars: He assisted Kevin O'Neill at Tennessee (1994-97), so he knows the area, the program and the challenge. He has spent most of his career in the NBA, however. After assisting with the Vancouver Grizzlies and New Jersey Nets, he took over the Nets as interim coach during the 2004 season. He promptly set an NBA record by going 13-0 to start his coaching career. He was fired in 2009, however, following an equally memorable 0-16 start. After a stint as an assistant with the Celtics, he got his second head coaching job with the Pistons but was fired after going 54-94. He was hired by the Brooklyn Nets as the NBA's highest-paid assistant ($1 million) earlier this season but demoted to "team evaluator" due to apparent philosophical differences with head coach Jason Kidd. Frank's head coaching record is 279-335, all in the NBA.