Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  By Staff  |  Last updated 4/15/14
After leading the Tennessee Volunteers' program to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010, coach Cuonzo Martin is heading west. Martin has accepted the head coaching position at California, according to multiple media outlets. Athletic director Dave Hart is holding a press conference at Thompson-Boling Arena this afternoon and is expected to make the announcement. There is some initial surprise to the announcement seeing as it comes on the heels of the school announcing it was restructuring Martin's deal after he interviewed for the Marquette job this offseason, but when accounting for the tumultuous, albeit ultimately successful, season Martin went through in Knoxville, it makes sense. Martin began receiving pushback earlier in the 2013-14 season following the team's disappointing start, with petitions being signed and passed around Knoxville calling for the return of former coach Bruce Pearl, whose NCAA show cause penalty expires in August. That petition received more than 30,000 signatures. Following their loss to Texas A&M on Feb. 22, the Volunteers sat at just 16-11 overall and 7-7 in Southeastern Conference play with a select few quality wins to earn them recognition by the NCAA Tournament committee. Then the Vols caught fire, winning five of their final six games of the regular season and in the SEC Tournament -- many victories coming by way of extravagant margins. Martin's group, led by senior Jordan McRae and junior Jarnell Stokes, barely made the field but entered the tourney as one of the most efficient teams in the country and promptly knocked off 11-seed Iowa (First Four game), 6-seed UMass and 14-seed Marcer to reach the second weekend. The Volunteers eventually fell to the second-seeded Michigan Wolverines, 73-71. Coming off such a successful end-of-season run, and given his treatment by the fanbase and the fact that McRae and Stokes are now both on their way out (Stokes has declared for the draft), Martin's name immediately began circulating as a possible choice for multiple jobs. He even became one of the finalists in the Marquette coaching search before pulling his name out (the Big East program eventually hired long-time Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski) and reportedly reworking his deal. But when Cal came calling, Martin did not turn it down. The Golden Bears' job opened up following the retirement of veteran coach Mike Montgomery. Martin completes his Tennessee stint with a 63-41 overall record. Including his three years at Missouri State, Martin has posted 20-win campaigns in four of his first six seasons as a head coach. And now, the 42-year-old is taking that resume of success to a California program that has enjoyed a good track record in recent years, but one looking to get over the NCAA tourney's first-weekend hump. The Golden Bears have not advanced to the Sweet 16 since 1997. As for Tennessee, Pearl is off the table, as he took the head coaching job with fellow sEC program Auburn earlier this year. The Volunteers program is certainly an attractive location for plenty of big-name coaches -- ESPN's Jeff Goodman threw Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall's name into the fire -- but if they can't land an equal or better coach than Martin, it's going to turn into "the grass isn't always greener" tale.
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