Via ESPN's Jeff Goodman, the Marquette Golden Eagles have identified Tennessee Volunteers coach Cuonzo Martin as one of their top targets. Martin and former UCLA and Pitt head coach Ben Howland are reportedly the top two candidates to replace Buzz Williams. Howland appears to be very interested in the opening but it's unclear whether Martin would entertain a move from the SEC to the Big East.
Oddly enough, Martin was on the proverbial hot seat earlier this season, with Vols fans calling for the school to replace him with his predecessor, former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl. Martin led the Volunteers to back-to-back NIT appearances in his first two seasons on Rocky Top before breaking through with a Sweet Sixteen appearance as an 11 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament.
Prior to his stint at Tennessee, Martin served as the head coach at Missouri State, winning the College Invitational Tournament in 2009-10 and making the NIT the following year. The former Purdue assistant is one of several Division I head coaches to come out of the Gene Keady coaching tree, joining Steve Lavin (St. John's), Matt Painter (Purdue), Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt) and Bruce Weber (Kansas State).
Here's the reaction to the news from Anonymous Eagle:
Martin has a career record of 124-82 in six seasons as a Division 1 head coach. He's made just one NCAA tournament appearance, which would be the one that you just finished watching last night. As underwhelming as that sounds, he did win the 2010 CIT at Missouri State and made the NIT the next season with the Bears. Martin got the Volunteers to the NIT in his first two seasons in Knoxville after taking over the program when Bruce Pearl was fired as a result of NCAA violations.
Marquette, along with Boston College and Wake Forest, are the three top head coaching vacancies remaining this offseason.