The South Carolina Gamecocks are headed to their first Final Four after defeating the Florida Gators, 77-70, in yesterday’s East Regional Final. Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin joined The Jim Rome Show on Monday following the big win and was asked what it’s like to wake up knowing his program is heading to Phoenix for the 2017 Final Four.
“I’d have to fall asleep first to wake up. It’s been unbelievable,” Martin laughed. “Just lying in bed last night and the emotion that goes with it. You’re reminiscing or at least I was reminiscing on my past 35-40 years of life, all the good, the bad, the indifferent, and just how appreciative I am of everyone who has kept me straight and made me do right and help me become a better man, and the former players and the bosses I have that had given me the opportunities and my family.
“My wife left her career to help me chase my dream, as an underpaid assistant coach. It’s incredible, it’s just an unbelievable journey that I’ve been in and a special group of players I got have allowed us to be a part of the special moment in our sport, which is the Final Four.”
For being a self-proclaimed “crap player” and not having the connections other coaches might have, Martin talked about how he overcame such odds and credited many who have impacted his life for getting him to where he is today.
“Bob Huggins stepped into my life when I was a young high school assistant coach,” Martin said about the West Virginia Mountaineers head coach. “And he was recruiting our players, and he and I built a friendship, and because he is as real a man as I’ve ever come across, it wasn’t a materialistic thing, just because he wanted the recruit. He actually is genuine in the relationship.
“And my high school coach, I was a bad. When I say a bad player, I was a left tackle trying to play football. So that should kind of clear your mind of what I was as a basketball player. But people like that, they believed in me and guided me and helped me, and because of that, I’ve been able to move forward, and I’m living a dream and just incredible the opportunities afforded to me because of those folks.”
However, no one has had a bigger impact on Martin than his mother, Lourdes, who was in attendance for the Elite Eight win.
“She’s the strongest person I’ve ever come across,” Martin said. “Married, and husband leaves, and she’s got two young children. Husband never sends her a penny, she never took him to court, never asked for money. She figured out a way with her mother, my grandmother, to raise my sister and I and never made an excuse, never allowed us to kind of disrespect the values that she tried to instill in our home, held us accountable. Helped me understand how to become a man until a certain age. I just can’t say enough, and I wouldn’t be here doing what I do right now if it wasn’t for her courage and her strength to work and provide for my sister and I on the salary of a secretary and just unbelievable stuff by her, just a special special lady.”