He was a very solid hire who did a nice job at Missouri State, brought in some good players and developed them at Tennessee and recruited well at Cal. On the surface, he we was MU's most accomplished hire since ... well, at worst, he's second-most accomplished coach to step into this program.
Think about it. Norm Stewart had coached at Northern Iowa before he came to Mizzou. Quin Snyder was 32 and hadn't spent one day as a head coach. Mike Anderson had taken three of his four UAB teams to the NCAA Tournament but had never been a head coach in a major conference. Frank Haith had HC experience in a major conference but not a winning track record at Miami. Kim Anderson had coached at the Division II level.
Martin came to MU with nine years of Division I head-coaching experience - more than any of the previous five - and been in charge of two high-major programs and guided both to the NCAA Tournament. Nobody else hired before him at Mizzou can say the same.
Now, did he arrive with the most sterling record? No, not necessarily. But comparative to the program's history, yeah, he was a strong hire.
But obviously the Porter situation elevated the expectations and fueled some of the Cuonzo hype. And when the program went from eight wins to 20 and the NCAA Tournament, those expectations continued to soar, probably to unrealistic and unfair levels, especially given how quickly things changed when Jontay got hurt.
But I don't think the fans who are watching closely and know college basketball and understand the landscape of coaching believe that Martin is "the second coming," as you state. But here's why people like him: He's a man of integrity who can also relate to modern players. He coaches hard. He's not a phony. He means what he says and when you meet him for the first time you're usually left impressed with his demeanor and his genuineness. He's a pro.
If he's not the guy, who would you think is a better solution? A realistic option to make this program nationally relevant and competitive in the SEC?