March 4, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bruce Weber during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin defeated Illinois 70-56. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE

Kansas State's Rodney McGruder Never Seriously Considered Leaving After Frank Martin's Exit

Bruce Weber takes over Frank Martin's roster and hopes for similar success.

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Frank Martin To South Carolina: Gamecocks Among 'Big Winners' In NCAA Coaching Carousel

Andy Katz has his latest analysis on the NCAA coaching scene and the changes that have affected so many schools. Locally a number of coaches have changed schools, but nothing has been as surprising as Frank Martin’s exit from Kansas State. It’s a move that Katz says is a major boon for South Carolina in particular. He writes:

Horn wasn’t able to work his Sweet 16 magic from Western Kentucky at South Carolina. The Gamecocks slipped significantly in 2011-12, going 2-14 in the SEC, 10-21 overall. South Carolina needed to make a major splash. And it did. Martin is a coaching star. He gets his players to sacrifice and play with as much intensity as he delivers on the sideline. Martin can recruit the East Coast to South Carolina. He did it at a tougher spot in Kansas State.

He was a questionable hire when he took over for Bob Huggins and quickly made everyone look foolish for wondering about the move. He received a significant pay raise and more security with the Gamecocks. But South Carolina was also the big winner with this transaction.

Martin was replaced by Bruce Weber, a name coach with some great NCAA Tournament experience with a title game appearance in his time with Illinois. But recently, he has fallen off and was ultimately fired just earlier this offseason. Whether Weber will enjoy a change of scenery remains to be seen, but for now the biggest winner is the team that needed something the most.

For more on Bruce Weber and the Wildcats, be sure to visit Bring On The Cats and SB Nation's college basketball page.


Bruce Weber Hire At Kansas State Brings High Praise From Fellow Coaches

A quick look around the college basketball coaching ranks brought a lot of high praise for Kansas State's hiring of Bruce Weber over the weekend despite the mixed reviews from sportswriters and fans. Weber replaces the popular Frank Martin who took more money and the lure of a challenge at South Carolina in a surprise move. Weber was just fired from the University of Illinois, so it will be interesting to have Weber back in the shadow of Kansas head coach Bill Self as well as Martin's own looming memory. Here are some takes from around the NCAA coaching ranks:

"No doubt Bruce Weber is a perfect fit for the K-State basketball program," said Steve Lavin. "He is a proven winner, tireless recruiter and man of great integrity. K-State hit a home run with the hiring of Bruce Weber and the Wildcat Nation will be pleased with the direction of the program for years to come."

Tom Izzo also loved the move and said, "Bruce is an incredible, incredible person. He does things the right way. He’s won more games as a percentage than anybody. He’s beat me and my team more often than not. I’ve recruited against him and lost, and I’ve recruited against him and won, and (it) hasn’t changed things."

Purdue's Matt Painter said, ""Bruce is a great coach and he’s a better person. If it wasn’t for him and Coach Keady, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve learned a lot of basketball and I’ve learned a lot about life and how to treat people from Coach Weber. You’re not going to find a better guy."

Check out the rest of the round-up over at K-State's website. Only time will tell whether these quotes are accurate or whether the doubters had it right. Ask Missouri's Frank Haith what people are saying at this point compared to last year.


Bruce Weber To Kansas State: Media Responds With Praise And Groans

If you're searching around the Interwebs trying to find a simple answer to the question of whether or not Kansas State's hire of Bruce Weber was a good one, you're not going to find it. From fans to sportswriters, it's clear that some people hate the move while others praise it. Here's a quick sampling of some instant reactions vai Twitter.

From Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star:

From Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports:

From Dick Vitale:

From Fox Sports Bill Reiter:

For more updates and news regarding Bruce Weber's hire as Kansas State's next head coach, keep checking this StoryStream. For more on the Kansas State Wildcats basketball program, check out Bring On The Cats.


Getting To Know Bruce Weber: New Kansas State Basketball Coach Has Mixed History

Bruce Weber definitely has some big shoes to fill. Frank Martin was a beloved figure in Manhattan as the men’s head basketball coach and rightfully so. After taking the team to an Elite 8 appearance in 2010, earning the Big 12 Coach of the Year award along the way, Martin had an impressive five seasons at Kansas State with a 117-54 record. Weber, in short, has some work to do.

Weber is going to be named the new head coach replacing Martin who departed for South Carolina in a surprise move earlier this week. Weber was just fired from the University of Illinois, so immediately fan and media reaction has not been favorable. After all, who wants another team’s leftovers?

But who exactly is Kansas State getting with the new hire? It’s a good question fans will want to know that unfortunately doesn’t tell much given Weber’s mixed bag of success and disappointment.

Weber was once among the hottest coaching names in the country as he took the Southern Illinois Salukis to great heights in the Missouri Valley Conference. Every year brings a mid-major team to the national spotlight and makes a hot coaching candidate out of that team’s head coach. Weber was the man for Southern Illinois for a couple of seasons as his team went to the Sweet 16 in 2001-02 and then another trip to the tournament followed the next year. That’s when Illinois came calling.

Unfortunately, Weber was never able to put it all together on his own at Illinois. He’s not known as a strong recruiter, so after a lot of initial success at Illinois with Bill Self’s players, Weber fell when the talent was his burden to bear. Using Self’s recruits, Weber finished first in the Big Ten for two straight seasons and even lost in the NCAA Championship game to North Carolina in 2005. Everything looked promising but it fell apart after that.

In the last five seasons, Weber has only been to the Big Dance twice and the NIT once and missed the postseason altogether two times. Last year, the Illini finished ninth in the Big Ten standings, leading to his dismissal. Weber, in short, can be a good coach with the right recruits and has even enjoyed some tremendous success at times. However, the long haul doesn’t bode well for him — at least during his stay at Illinois.

Given Self’s shadow that looms here, Weber is going to continue to have a hard time recruiting locally. It will be interesting to see what he does with Martin’s guys, and there might be some initial success. Frank Haith certainly did well with the hand he was dealt last season. Thus some people might instantly hop on the Weber bandwagon and forget about Martin if Weber does right with K-State in 2012-13.

However, it’s the long road ahead that will tell whether or not John Currie got this hire right. For now, the mixed results make it difficult to discern.

For more updates and news regarding the Frank Martin situation, keep checking this StoryStream. For more on the Kansas State Wildcats basketball program, check out Bring On The Cats.


Is Bruce Weber Next In Line For Kansas State?

According to a tweet from local Associated Press sports writer David Skretta, Kansas State officials have scheduled a 3 p.m. press conference at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan. With AD John Currie and President Kirk H. Schulz planning to both be in attendance, it appears that a press conference for the new basketball coach will be coming.

If you look at the website Flight Aware, you can see an interesting plane schedule for today that leads people to believe that former Illinois head coach Bruce Weber is on his way to Manhattan. According to the schedule:

8:46 am - A plane leaves New Orleans (site of the Final Four) heading to the University of Illinois

10:46 am - After a 28 minute layover, the same plane is headed to Manhattan Regional in Kansas

11:52 am - The plane is scheduled to arrive in Manhattan

This certainly makes for an interesting hire as the 55-year old Weber was relieved of his duties on March 9th after Illinois lost in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament to Iowa, capping a disappointing 17-15 season. In nine seasons at Illinois, Weber was 210-101 overall. Included was a 37-2 record during the 2004-05 season that saw Illinois lose in the National Title game to North Carolina.

Overall, Weber is 313-155 in 14 seasons at both Illinois and Southern Illinois.

For more updates and news regarding the Frank Martin situation, keep checking this StoryStream. For more on the Kansas State Wildcats basketball program, check out Bring On The Cats.


Kansas State Coaching Candidate List Is Underwhelming, But A Duke Assistant Intrigues

Until an official announcement has been made by K-State on their next head coach, we can only guess on the candidates. Currently the list of names leaves much to be desired, but one candidate could be appealing.


Frank Martin To South Carolina: K-State Coach Says He 'Fell In Love With Challenge' Of Gamecocks Basketball

In an interview with Kevin Keitzman at WHB, Frank Martin recently took some time out to discuss leaving Kansas State, accepting the move to South Carolina and some of the drama that went on through it all. It’s a telling interview in which Martin clearly doesn’t say everything he could have said, but at least some parameters of the surprise decision were revealed.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Martin insists that he did not make the decision to leave out of negative feelings — against athletic director John Currie or about the suspension of Jamar Samuels. Instead, he says he’s simply ready for a new challenge.

It’s been one of, well, not one of, the most decision I’ve ever made in my professional life because I never put myself in front of others. For once in my life, I had to put myself apart from everybody and make a selfish decision. It’s been an honor to … serve K-State. I tried to do my job to the best of my abilities, honestly. I did everything by the rules; I fought for that school. We united the fans, the administration, the coaches, the players, everyone as one. We gave the school the five most successful years in the history of the school. … Our success gave me options and I saw a challenge here that I just fell in love with and I just felt I had to make this decision.

The Gamecocks will definitely be just that. They are a basement dwelling team in the SEC, and getting the program back on its feet will take time and considerable effort in a brand new region of the country and a brand new conference. Martin is definitely taking on a challenge. Yet his record at K-State is strong these last five seasons, and there’s a reason USC wanted him. It will be an interesting subplot to follow next season and beyond.


Frank Martin Will Be Difficult For Kansas State's John Currie To Replace

From the vantage point of, well, just about everyone, the move of Kansas State men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin to the University of South Carolina makes no sense. It almost seems as if there’s something not being said or admitted at this point on one side or the other, especially given that Martin was allowed to walk without any real pursuit or counter-offer from K-State. In a short amount of time, Martin had a rumor swirling from the worst team in the SEC and suddenly he was gone.

Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports is among the incredulous wondering why the Wildcats’ Athletic Director John Currie would let the situation get to this point and why he didn’t do anything to convince Martin to stay. After all, Martin’s exemplary record of five consecutive seasons over 20 wins is hard to find in Manhattan.

Goodman writes, “I’d like to see Currie find someone who can duplicate that success. Winning isn’t easy in Manhattan, Kan. Just ask Jim Wooldridge, who was 83-90 in his six seasons at the helm from 2000-2006. He finished between seventh and 10th in the league each season. Dana Altman is a heck of a coach. He was 68-54 in his four years at K-State and went to the NCAA tournament once. Tom Asbury? He was 85-88. Lon Kruger was the last coach to have any legitimate success, and that was back in the late 1980s.”

Some candidates could begin to emerge soon enough for K-State, but for now everyone is still scratching their heads. Perhaps some more details will come forth detailing some previously unknown issue. For now, the only winner is South Carolina while everyone else scratches their head in confusion.


The Postives And Negatives Of The Kansas State Head Basketball Coaching Position

With it now being official that Frank Martin is leaving for South Carolina, a quote by Ron Burgundy from the movie Anchorman seems to be in order "Boy, that escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast". This story went from simple rumors to an announcement in quick order.

With Martin now out the door, K-State athletic director John Currie should be taking stock of where the Wildcat basketball program is not only in the Big 12 but relative to the rest of the country, especially now that he needs to hire a new coach who could ultimately determine his fate at K-State.

To say that the K-State basketball program is in a different place now than five to ten years ago would be a giant understatement. Before the Bob Huggins & Frank Martin era began, the once proud K-State program had been driven into the ground by twelve seasons of mediocrity and/or failure by the combination of Tom Asbury and Jim Woolridge.

The lowest point for the program likely came in the 2003 season, when under Woolridge’s direction the Wildcats traveled to Kansas City to take on the UMKC Kangaroos in Municipal Auditorium. The final score turned out to be an embarrassing 93-52 thrashing at the hands of the now Summit League school. What may have been even more embarrassing than the loss is the fact that Woolridge continued to be the head coach at K-State for two more disappointing seasons. Fast forward to the present and it’s obvious that much higher expectations are in place with the program thanks to the hiring of Huggins first and then Martin afterwards.

So what are the positives and negatives associated with the K-State basketball program that a potential coaching candidate would see?

The first positive thing to mention is the fact that K-State is a member of a BCS conference, the Big 12, a conference that now finally looks to be on solid ground. This is vitally important as it guarantees a financial backing that schools in lesser conferences simply cannot compete with. In addition to the higher amount of money in place, a spot in a major conference guarantees a high level of exposure that allows a coach to show off his brand on a national stage.

Another positive that K-State can sell when finding another coach is their increased newfound commitment to the program. Last year, a groundbreaking ceremony took place on a brand-new, basketball-only training facility for the men’s and women’s teams. The facility is scheduled to be completed in 2012 and will provide new full-length practice courts, new locker rooms, new coaching offices that look down on the practice courts, meeting rooms, new weight rooms and a sports-medicine area with hydrotherapy. This new facility will give K-State coaches, whoever they are, a nice selling point to potential recruits.

Another aspect that shows commitment to the program is K-State’s willingness to pay a strong salary for their head-coaching position. While his salary was not at the top of the Big 12, Martin was rewarded quite well at a reported $1.5 million per year due to a new contract he received in 2010. And the Wildcat administration seems to be willing to reward their head coach if reasonable levels of success are met. Assuming he were still around come April 1st, Martin’s agent would have begun renegotiation of his contract due to a clause in his contract that was met when K-State finished tied for third place in the Big 12 in the 2010-2011 season.

Another strong selling point for the Kansas State program, in addition to the previously mentioned items, is obviously the recent success experienced. In the past five seasons, the Wildcats have won 21 games or more each year and have reached the NCAA Tournament in four of those years, with one Elite Eight appearance. The wins on the court have also brought K-State fans back into Bramlage Coliseum, providing a strong home-court advantage.

As with anything, though, there are some negative aspects that a potential coaching candidate would have to consider. The main so-called negative that always gets brought up first is location. Usually this gets mentioned when describing the difficulties that a coach would face in recruiting players. This argument, while holding some validity, is not completely accurate as Martin proved that the right coach can reel in players no matter the location. The current Wildcat roster is made up of players from places such as Florida, Washington D.C. and New York.

One location detriment that a coach at Kansas State would definitely face is the lack of elite high school talent in the state. This is simply a fact as the state of Kansas does not produce many high-level Division One athletes on a yearly basis. Due to this, any potential coach at K-State needs to be able to go out and recruit nationally and be a good enough salesman to get kids to come to an area they may never have seen before.

The other issue with the state of Kansas and the lack of elite players is the fact that one of college basketball’s blue-blood programs is right down the road in Lawrence. If there is a top high school player in the state such as Perry Ellis, there is a high chance the player will go to KU. That may not be something that Wildcat fans like to hear but it is the truth. Any new coach who would come to K-State would be keenly aware that he has an uphill climb to be not only the top team in the Big 12, but simply in the state.

It now appears that another major red flag for any potential candidate who is considering K-State is the athletic director. All indications make it seem that John Currie is a micro-manager who does not seem to grant his head coaches the freedom they would like in their jobs. A new coach would obviously be a Currie hire so maybe in the future this would not be as much of an issue, but it may make the job less appealing to some coaches.

In the end the K-State basketball head coaching position is a very good job in a power conference but it isn’t necessarily a destination job for a coach. If the K-State administration does their job well and hires a coach who continues to keep the Wildcats winning, you can likely expect these same coaching rumors to come around again in a few years.


Frank Martin To South Carolina? K-State Coach Admits They 'Have Had Conversations'

At first, Kansas State men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin said any notion of leaving for South Carolina was "crazy." Now, however, Kellis Robinett reports that Martin's changed his tune. The Kansas City Star reporter recently said via Twitter, "Just got off the phone with Frank Martin’s agent. When asked about South Carolina he tells me, ‘We have had conversations.’"

This is an about-face from Martin’s previous position and shows there might be some truth to the notion that Martin would leave a successful, steady Big 12 program for the bottom-dwelling Gamecocks of the SEC. South Carolina won only 10 games last season, while the Wildcats played in the NCAA Tournament again and made it to the second round.

Martin is the first coach in K-State history to hit the 20-win mark in each of his first five seasons, and he has nearly every player coming back next year in a season where Missouri and Baylor will both be on the downward slide after player exits. It’s amazing that Martin would even consider leaving but, then again, everyone has a price. Given the lingering tension around Jamar Samuels’ suspension, perhaps there’s enough emotion to make a move.

For more on the Kansas State basketball program, check out Bring On The Cats.


Frank Martin To South Carolina Rumors: Could Jamar Samuels' Suspension Play A Part?

Somewhere in the mix of rumors and reports is the truth about a link between Kansas State men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin and the South Carolina Gamecocks athletic department. Martin explains that he’s spoken with no one about any new job, so it’s likely the interest in one-sided at this point. But it’s clear that Martin is a wanted man.

This happens year after year after making K-State into a solid, stable program that wins 22-plus games and advances at least one or two rounds into the tournament. For a man playing second fiddle under the looming shadow of Bill Self’s top ranked program in Lawrence, Martin has done a fine job. It’s the reason that South Carolina has reportedly come calling — likely with a lot of money in tow.

That said there’s no good reason on the surface why Martin would want to leave for the Gamecocks. They won 10 games last season and would require Martin to learn an entirely new region of the country. You can’t put a price on contacts in the game of recruiting and Martin would be starting from scratch. That said, everyone has their price .

But what if there was something underneath the surface for Martin — an emotion pitting him against his employer. Kellis Robinett of the Kansas City Star mentions this possibility when it comes to the school’s treatment of Jamar Samuels in the tournament:

Martin is scheduled to begin negotiations on a new K-State contract on April 1 with athletic director John Currie, but a source close to the basketball program said Martin was "very upset" with Currie’s decision to hold senior Jamar Samuels out of last week’s NCAA Tournament game against Syracuse, which K-State lost.

Samuels, sources said, was wired $200 by his former AAU coach. Currie said he found out about the possible NCAA violation between the Wildcats’ first and second NCAA Tournament games and made the decision to suspend Samuels.

Martin was very emotional after the game and the press conference was broadcasted everywhere for one reason — the touching authenticity of a coach who truly feels for his players. It’s clear he cares for Samuels, and it’s possible to read between the lines that he believed Samuels was treated unfairly. Enough to leave his job? That seems a bit dramatic yet it’s impossible to know all of the variables that might be at play.

That said, for now these are just rumors and this is not the first time or the first year that Martin has been included in them. He was mentioned for the Illinois opening and he’ll continue to be included in others. It comes with the program — a winning one — that he’s established at K-State.

For more on the Kansas State basketball program, check out Bring On The Cats.

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