Frank Martin: My Take
Tons of hot takes flowed on Twitter when the suspension of Frank Martin was handed down for verbally abusing Duane Notice. And the situation will bubble to the surface again when the SEC Basketball Tournament starts this week in Atlanta and Martin returns to the bench. So you can pile our hot take on top, and it goes a little something like this:
I like Frank Martin and I’m glad he’s our coach. I supported the hire and I support Coach Martin going forward. I like his intensity. I like that he seems to care so much about the players and about building our men’s basketball program.
I also absolutely, wholeheartedly support Ray Tanner’s decision to suspend Coach Martin. Since the suspension was announced, there’s been a split of opinion on whether or not the suspension was the right thing to do. Count me among those who are baffled and befuddled by those who feel the administration should have ignored what he said, something that Martin has now admitted to be a major problem.
Those criticizing the suspension have thrown out various reasons for their position: that we knew what the intense Coach Martin was about when we hired him; that there are many “cussing” coaches like Martin in the college game; that the suspension of Martin exemplifies the “wussification of America”; that the coach-player relationship should not be monkeyed with by the administration; that the kind of things Martin said to Duane Notice are par for the course and those who “didn’t play the game” simply don’t understand.
Guys and girls, this is NOT about intensity. This NOT about cussing. This is NOT about toughness. Instead, this is about human dignity. No college coach under any circumstances should ever say what Frank Martin said to Duane Notice, in public or private. I’m wondering if those criticizing the decision actually know what Coach Martin said. Because if they did, I can’t imagine how they can argue that it was ok. Martin didn’t just say use some salty language in front of Notice. No, he called this 18-year old kid in front of him, playing in a basketball game, a “f***ing asshole”. Again, focus on the actual words here. If you think this is ok, and you have kids, then I feel for your kids.
Let me ask you: in what universe is it acceptable for a coach to talk to his 18-year old player like that? I’m certainly glad it’s not acceptable at my university. I applaud Tanner and the university for standing up for what is right. And it’s not like Martin wasn’t warned. In his post-suspension press conference Martin disclosed that he and Tanner had been talking about this for weeks, and that he understood that he had a problem. Heck, he had even publicly apologized to Brenton Williams for a verbal onslaught levied earlier this year. For folks to say all of this is ok, that we should sit back and watch a man make a jerk of himself and our university, is inexcusable and frankly embarrassing.
Some of the protesters have implied that this is an infringement on liberty – that we and Martin should have the liberty to say and do what we want. Well, liberty has its limits. One of those limits is calling a kid you are supposed to be coaching and molding a f***ing asshole.
I’m a long-time listener to South Carolina radio legend and TRC friend Phil Kornblut. While I agree with him most of the time, this time he got it wrong. Dead wrong. Kornblut said that Martin’s actions didn’t hurt anyone, and because of that we “holier than thou” types should just get a grip. After hearing the Martin presser I think it’s pretty clear that this has at least hurt Martin, his wife, and his mother. Martin himself acknowledged that it hurt the university.
And of course no one has even mentioned Duane Notice much in all of this. While I’m sure Duane is a tough kid, studies show that verbal abuse is still abuse. Has Martin been verbally abusing Notice and others for a while (and I’m not talking about cussing)? Who knows. I certainly hope not. But condoning such actions sends the message to the world that it’s ok to abuse and degrade those we are supposed to be coaching or raising. Is that really the message we want to send?
Coach Martin fell short (surprise, we all do). Kudos to him for admitting his mistake and promising to work on things. Kudos to Ray Tanner and USC for sending the correct message. To those of you who still think what Martin did was just fine, I would encourage you to do a little soul-searching. It’s ok to admit you were wrong. Martin did.