KNOXVILLE (WATE)- Former Vols' Head Coach Cuonzo Martin was back on the airwaves in Knoxville on Thursday. He talked with radio host Hallerin Hilton Hill on NewsTalk 98.7 and said he appreciated the fans in Knoxville and the media- who he said had been mostly fair.
Martin said there were no hard feelings. He said the petition asking the University of Tennessee to replace him with former coach Bruce Pearl didn't bother him but, he did say that it was unfortunate for people to read and that it gave the program a "black-eye."
"The one thing I wanted to make clear and understood, it had nothing to do with any petition," said Martin. "Really. Nothing at all. That didn't faze me one bit. It didn't. I just really felt like it was the best thing for both parties. In order for the University of Tennessee, the fan base, to get what they need and what they're looking for, it was probably time to make a change. I don't think there's anything wrong with it."
"They've done a tremendous job getting on board with Coach Jones and he's a great man. Imagine the guy they hire, get on board be a part of it and when there are bumps in the road stick with it. Understand the coach is doing everything in his power to make it right and stay the course. because whatever is written and whatever is said those players get it and those guys represent the University."
For the first time, Martin also addressed the affect the petition and his decision may have had on the players.
"They were very disappointed in a lot of ways with what took place," said Martin. "As well with some of the guys in the program. Just how their coach was treated. That's a tough thing to deal with. But I was fine with it. Because in the end, Hal, they learned a lot of valuable lessons. Dealing with adversity. Going through tough times and how to handle them. Now 10 years down the road, if they are faced with some things like that, they'll say, coach went through this. They'll at least be familiar with how to handle the situation."
Martin says he hopes to take his entire coaching staff with him to Cal. He attributes this season's success to their collective effort.
But he says he is encouraging all of the players to stay at Tennessee and is not influence the four signees either way.
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