The South Carolina Gamecocks have long been searching for success in hoops. They seem primed for it. They’re only a a little more than an hour from talent rich North Carolina. They play in a beautiful facility (Colonial Life Arena) that was constructed less than ten years ago. And, most importantly, they’re in the SEC, a conference not really known for its dominance in basketball. For whatever reason, they just can’t seem to win while football rich schools like Florida and Tennessee have.
Most of the blame has fallen on the head coach and South Carolina has taken every angle to bring in the right guy. If you’ll recall, Eddie Fogler came in and got the Gamecocks to a two seed in the NCAA tournament, only to fall victim to 15-seed Coppin State. He never recovered from that loss, and was jobless a few seasons later. He was replaced by a crafty vet, and long time coach at Wake Forest, Dave Odom. While Odom had success in Columbia, he was best known for winning back to back titles…in the NIT.
Their most recent hire was one of the “hot young coach” variety. Always the same story with these guys, they win a game or two in the NCAA tourney, and lock down a major head coaching job based solely on that. Darrin Horn, who had some success at Western Kentucky, took the team to the Sweet 16 in 2008…three weeks later he was hired at South Carolina. The last three seasons have been disasterous, as the Gamecocks have failed to qualify for the NIT, much less the NCAAs.
Reports say the school’s latest target is Kansas State’s Frank Martin, a relentless recruiter who saved a program that was stunned when Bob Huggins left Manhattan after one season. Kansas State is arguably a similar program to South Carolina, and Martin has taken the Wildcats to 3 straight NCAA tourneys for the first time any since Lon Kruger was skating up and down the sidelines in the late 80s. He seemed primed to take the gig at the University of Miami last Spring, but the school elected to hire George Mason’s Jim Larranaga.
Wikipedia, which is the absolute bible of truth, states Frank Martin’s salary to be around $1.5 Million a season. A very good salary compared to some of his colleagues, but could he be looking towards the deal Missouri coach Mike Anderson got from Arkansas last year? The former rival coach had similar success, and is now collecting $2.2 Million in Fayetteville.
It’s always a crapshoot. Agents release these stories to throw pressure on the institution they’re currently employed by to increase their salary. By the same token, South Carolina might legitmately be willing to throw the bank at a guy like Frank Martin.