It's been an exciting day for South Carolina, as Frank Martin was officially announced as our new head basketball coach today. Here are a few thoughts about some of the news that has emerged over the course of the day.
- After weeks of speculation that Eric Hyman would be (1) too cheap to fire Darrin Horn, and then (2) too cheap to pay for a good coach, it's now known that Hyman has made Martin one of the SEC's best-paid coaches. Here's the details from the afore-linked article:"Frank Martin has a six year contract with USC that makes him the fourth highest paid coach in the SEC. Only Kentucky’s John Calipari, Florida’s Billy Donavan and Arkansas’ Mike Anderson make more.The contract runs through March 31, 2018 and has a base salary of $300,000 dollars. It is bolstered further by media and supplemental compensation. Martin will make 1.9 million dollars in year one, $2 million in his second year, $2.1 in year three and 2.2 million over the final two years.Martin made about 1.1 million plus incentives at Kansas State last year." Needless to say, this should partially explain Martin's choice to leave Kansas St. More importantly, it also says a lot about Hyman and USC athletics in general. Our athletics programs are lucrative enough to afford paying for top coaches, and our athletics director was ready to do so, given the right opportunity. That opportunity arose, and here we are. Kudos to Mr. Hyman and his management of our finances.
- One thing to keep your eye on in the coming weeks is whether or not Martin and his staff are able to bring any new recruits into play for South Carolina. One player to particularly monitor is Robert Upshaw, a 7' center ranked eighth at his position, 43rd overall in this class by Rivals. Upshaw is currently committed to Kansas St., but it turns out that he has not signed an LOI and is not bound to the Wildcats. It now appears likely that he will not choose KSU and will look elsewhere. That doesn't mean he'll choose South Carolina, particularly considering that USC is literally all the way across the country from Upshaw's home in Fresno. However, if Martin was able to make a strong enough connection to Upshaw to get him to come to KSU, don't be surprised if he gets him to come to USC. If he does, USC may sport one of the SEC's best front lines next year. What a change that would be.
- Those of you who were able to listen to or read about the press conference know that Martin said all the right things today. Some things to note: (1) Martin not only raised the bar on the court at KSU, he also raised the bar in the classroom. This is important to Hyman and the reputation of the school. (2) Martin wants to get some of our former stars involved in the program, guys such as B.J. McKie, Devan Downey, even Bobby Cremins. (3) Martin, true to what I've heard about him, tells it like it is. Said he doesn't make promises and can only say that his teams will be held to a high standard. (4) Martin said he would talk to current USC assistants such as Mike Boynton, implying that he would consider retaining them if he feels they are a good fit. (5) He said USC is "The" University of South Carolina (tweet that!) and that he will focus on in-state recruiting. All in all, it was an impressive press conference.