After Butch Jones openly acknowledged during his introductory press conference that he’d be open to bringing Tee Martin back to Rocky Top… after Martin acknowledged he’d been offered a spot on the coaching staff at his alma mater Tennessee… after all the will he/won’t he, the last player to quarterback the Vols to a national championship declined a return.
In his initial comments on the decision, Martin cited “a commitment to my players at USC” as part of the reason behind eschewing a return to his collegiate home.
In a statement released Tuesday night through USC, where he has served as wide receivers coach for the past year, Martin expounded on the decision.
“I was very honored to be offered a position on Coach Jones’ Tennessee staff. I truly believe he will do an outstanding job with the Vols program. My decision to remain at USC was the toughest I have ever had to make because Tennessee is such a special place to me.
“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.”
In the end, Martin made a commitment to not only USC but to the players he recruited, and to the families in whose living room he sat all along the recruiting trail. And, after some very real and understandable heart-tugging back toward where he came from, actually stuck to that commitment.
That’s very rare these days. And immensely commendable and admirable.
(Photo credit: USC athletics)