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Cuonzo Martin on leaving Tennessee: ‘It was the best thing for both parties’

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(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

After coaching Tennessee to the Sweet 16 in only his third season as the school’s head coach, Cuonzo Martin surprised some by leaving to accept the same position at California. Martin didn’t elaborate completely on why he was leaving, but said he felt like he could have more success in Berkeley.

“I just felt, at the end of the day it was the best thing for both parties,” Martin told The Jim Rome Show. “Not to say Tennessee did anything wrong or Coach Martin was disgruntled in any way, shape, or form. It was just best for both parties to move on.”

Martin was aware of the Tennessee fans online petition to rehire Bruce Pearl during the season, but wasn’t affected by it.

“It didn’t bother me at all, to be totally honest with you,” said Martin. “I’ve never been a guy who looks at the news, read the papers when it talks about those things, or even blogs, or radio, for that matter. I don’t get caught up in them because, as a coach, you’re hired to do a job. Not everybody is going to like how you do your job and that part is fine, but the most important thing for me is to win ball games and develop young men and in the process we did that.”

The 42-year-old also reminisced on his career journey that’s taken him from East St. Louis to Berkeley.

“One of my college teammates texted me and said ‘Imagine that a guy from East St. Louis is coaching at the number one public institution in the world.’ For me, that was very humbling,” said Martin. “He said it from the standpoint ‘Look where you’ve come from, man.’ It wasn’t even about the basketball side of it. It was just about a young man continuing to progress through life and it really humbled me when he said it.”

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