Tee Martin saga leaves unanswered questions, but firm statement seems to tie him to USC

tee-martin.jpgKNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The roughly 36-hour Tee Martin saga is over, and the ending was a kick in the gut for Tennessee fans.

No, the UT coaching staff will not be made or broken by the hiring of a receivers coach, but the addition of Martin would have offered a practical recruiting boost for Butch Jones’ staff and a nice morale boost for fans eager to see one of their favorite heroes return to Knoxville.

When Tee said, ‘No thanks,’ the inevitable online meltdown did in fact occur, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, for all the Twitter-hate sent in Martin’s direction, there were plenty of sensible fans who wished him well.

But after the backlash, the next question is why?

Why, in the heart of a busy recruiting week, did Martin fly to Knoxville, publicly consider a job at the school where he is a legend and then turn it down?

I’ve heard a lot of theories, and not all are satisfactory. I had a long discussion with someone whose quotes I didn’t end up using in the newspaper because he was an unnamed source and declined to go on the record.

At the end of the day, I really do think Martin would like to return to Tennessee, but not in a way that damages his burgeoning career. Was Tennessee’s offer competitive financially? Did Butch Jones roll out the red carpet and make him feel wanted? Did USC have a plan to keep him in the fold, either through a raise or increase in responsibilities or some other incentive?

We might never get a concrete answer to those questions. We don’t even know what Martin makes at USC because it is a private university.

But there’s one more thing that’s worth noting about Martin’s decision to stay in Los Angeles.

There have been plenty of rumblings that Martin would be in the mix for other jobs in the Southeast — perhaps Auburn or (gasp) Alabama. In fact, Nick Saban could have a lucrative spot waiting for him after the BCS championship game.

But Martin’s statement left little wiggle room. If he bolts next month, or even after National Signing Day, it won’t look good.

“At the end of the day, I am a man of my word. I promised Coach Kiffin when I was hired at USC that I had goals I wanted to accomplish here. We still have work to do here to reach those goals. I see a great future at USC with the players on our roster and the recruits we have coming in. I have so much love and respect for Tennessee. But at this time, the right decision was to continue at USC and I am looking forward to doing that.”

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2 thoughts on “Tee Martin saga leaves unanswered questions, but firm statement seems to tie him to USC

  1. J. Hill

    I think Tee handled a very difficult situation with tremendous class. I would hope our fans would take a page from him and return his respect with respect. Don’t burn any bridges, and remain grateful for 98!

  2. jesse

    I have a theory, Tee has a child by a woman who resides in or near Knoxville, do you think the most obvious reason is just not mentioned? His newer wife or mother of his 2 children didn’t want Daddy moving back to an area where he has another baby momma? I know it’s not normal for the media to mention realistic situations but I do believe that’s the reason Tee is staying on the West coast.

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