The Cuonzo Martin Era at Cal a legacy of incompleteness


The Cuonzo Martin Era at Cal a legacy of incompleteness

Cuonzo Martin is leaving California, either for the greener currency and greater term (seven years) at Missouri. He wasted fewer than 15 hours since the Golden Bears’ embarrassing NIT beating by Cal State Bakersfield to tell his players he’s three and done.
Three, as in years, making Martin the shortest tenured coach in 97 at Berkeley and abruptly ending a stage in his career that never quite fit anyone right.
Martin’s last act, if it is such, was watching his team lay down against Cal State Bakersfield in the first round of the NIT Tuesday night. Without Ivan Rabb (knee/NIT-it is) or Jabari Bird (concussion), their fleeting incentive against the Jackrabbits fled, and they went down with a thudding bad-jumper-laden ignominy.
But Martin was never an entirely cheery fit in Berkeley anyway. Between the school’s initial reluctance to give a formalized contract (he finally got one, and then an extension that takes him to 2020-21), and the general lack of atmospherics around the program despite three consecutive winning seasons, his time has been (on the verge of was) less than electric.
When compared to his essentially laudatory character and work improving the program’s academic profile, that would seem only mildly relevant, but at Cal, where the financial wolf always seems to be in close proximity to the door, deep tournament runs and a powerhouse football program would seem to be more necessity than luxury. 
And the truth is that Martin needed a greater sense of surety than Cal could provide, and Cal needed that cash-fueled electricity – electricity that the successful recruitment of Rabb and Jaylen Brown (a one-and-done now with the Boston Celtics) couldn’t seem to accomplish. Martin’s 62-39 record in three years is leavened by first round losses in each of the past two seasons, to Hawaii in NCAA Tournament in 2016 and Tuesday night, and both years the customers expected more. Expectations, after all, remain undefeated no matter where you go.
The alternate truth is that Missouri, which just canned Kim Anderson after the three worst years in half a century of Missouri basketball is a qualitatively and quantitatively better job with higher energy levels and expectation demands.
Cal athletic director Mike Williams said in the school press release that Martin had “a strong desire to move closer to home,” and while that could be either his childhood home in East St. Louis, his coaching home in Missouri or his last job at Tennessee (the Southeastern Conference), the money is also reportedly much better – perhaps by as much as 50 percent.
That he didn’t engage Cal about a potential extension is an indication that he (a) either knew that a year after his last one he was probably not going to get it, or more likely (b) that he just wanted out despite having four more years on his current contract.
In other words, there are jobs and then there are jobs, and in the college basketball diaspora, Cal is mostly just another job – successful, but not successful enough to change the school’s essential football-first profile or the area’s pro-sport-first profile. And while Cal has to figure out how to get around UCLA, Oregon and Arizona, Missouri has to figure out how to get around Kentucky, which has the strength of three programs on its own.

And in other other words, there are contracts and there are contracts. Cal is still not a high profile revenue generator as major programs go, and has been debt-strapped for years now. Missouri, on the other hand, essentially emptied out for Martin, and that talks just as loud.
His legacy? A .613 winning percentage, two postseason losses (Hawaii in the NCAAs a year ago and the CS Bakersfield debacle), two five-star recruits that could have changed the program, and a legacy of incompleteness that reveals Cal’s essential big-time-athletics flaw.
There are at least 50 athletics programs which are much bigger, and that is not likely to ever change.

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe


Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

Men's basketball teams from Oregon State, Clemson and Arizona were staying at a hotel in Barcelona, Spain, near where a van drove into pedestrians on Thursday, but team officials said everyone was safe.

Spanish police have confirmed they are investigating the bloodshed in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district as a terror attack. The area is a popular summer tourist spot.

Tulane also was playing in Barcelona, but it was unclear if they were staying in the same hotel as the other teams.

Oregon State assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb posted to Facebook: "We are all luckily ok. Our hotel/restaurant is located right on Las Ramblas. This tragedy happened right in front of us as our team just sat down for pregame meal. Thoughts and prayers for all those that are were hurt."

The Beavers' game Thursday night was canceled. It was supposed to be the first of a five-game tour.

Clemson was scheduled to play Thursday night against a Spanish All-Star team.

"We've been in contact with our men's basketball program currently in Barcelona and the entire travel party is safe and secure. Their exhibition game for tonight has been cancelled and the team will return to Clemson as previously scheduled tomorrow morning. Our thoughts are with the people of Barcelona," the South Carolina school said in a statement.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that the three teams were staying in the same hotel.

"We are fine. Thankful to be safe and together," Brownell wrote.

Tulane athletic director Troy Tannen confirmed via social media that the Green Wave players and staff were safe.

Replying to a Twitter inquiry from a Portland television about whether the team was OK, Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle responded: "Yes we are, happened directly in front of our hotel while we were having a team meal in the restaurant, so senseless and sad! All accounted4."

Oregon State said it has not yet determined the remaining schedule for the team, which was supposed to be on the exhibition tour until Aug. 25.

A spokesman for Arizona said the Wildcats have canceled their third and final exhibition of their tour and "are currently working on travel plans to return home."

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof


The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans.