Martin set to begin ninth season at Miami

Credit: Matt Strasen

Credit: Matt Strasen

OXFORD -- If Miami’s football schedule plays out as laid out, Chuck Martin will set a RedHawks record at kickoff of their Mid-American Conference game at Akron on Oct. 29.

Commencement of that game will make it the 100th coached by Martin at Miami, one more than the previous high of 99 coached by Randy Walker over nine seasons from 1990 through 1998 before he left to coach Northwestern.

“I guess it’s pretty good,” Martin said on July 20. “In today’s day and age, with all of the hirings and firings, it’s pretty hard to do. It’s hard being in one place for more than a couple of years. With the way sports are structured, coaches look to move on. It’s pretty unique.

“Since 2000, I’ve moved twice. That’s rare in this profession. It’s cool in that sense.”

Martin’s ninth Miami team is scheduled to start fall practice on Wednesday in preparation for the seasonopener on Sept. 3 at Kentucky.

While Miami rightfully is proud of its tradition as being the “Cradle of Coaches,” part of that tradition stems from instability. The program nurtures coaches and then they leave – sometimes for greener pastures, sometimes because they were, um, ineffective. Martin’s nine seasons equal the combined experience of his three immediate predecessors – Shane Montgomery, Mike Haywood and Don Treadwell. That doesn’t include interim coaches Mike Bath and Lance Guidry.

The nine seasons logged by Walker and Martin are second to the 10 piled up by Frank Wilton from 1932 through 1941.

Martin, who reportedly is due to be paid $550,000 through Jan. 31, 2025, under a contract agreed to in March 2020, is 39-52 overall and 33-26 in the MAC going into the 2022 season. He’s led Miami to the 2019 MAC championship, the program’s first since 2010, and to three post-season appearances.

He admits that he’s been approached for other jobs since arriving in Oxford before the 2014 season.

“I have been approached, but not too often,” he said. “I’ve never been one to look for jobs. I’ve always been focused on where I’m at. This place has been good to my family and for my family. I’ve never spent a lot of time looking for jobs. I’ve always liked where I’m at.

“I don’t like to move. I don’t like to move my family. I like who I get to coach. I enjoy these kids more than anybody I’ve been around.

“Again, this has been a great place. I’ve loved who I’ve gotten to coach and who I’ve gotten to work with. The second piece is always the family situation. This has been a great job for me and my family. We’ve enjoyed being here.

“I’ve become a head coach at a Division I school. Those jobs are hard to get. There’s only like 130 of them. To get one at Miami is pretty cool.

“I’m pretty content staying here as long as they’ll have me.”

Martin inherited a team that went 0-12 in 2013. The RedHawks were 4-18 over his first two conference seasons before the turnaround 2016 season, when they lost their first six games before winning their last six, becoming the first team in college football history to go from 0-6 to 6-6. They capped that season with a one-point loss to Mississippi State in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Bowl.

The rebuilding job was sort of completed when Miami won the 2019 MAC championship, which Martin considers his biggest accomplishment to this point.

“We’d lost 16 straight MAC games and were 4-26 over a 30-game MAC stretch,” he recalled. “I remember thinking after we won that MAC championship that, ‘We’ve come a long, long way.’

“What’s still to be done is win another MAC championship. Obviously, I’d like to beat Cincinnati. They’ve been a little different animal over the past few years than they’ve been in previous years. That’s something as a Miami coach you want to accomplish.”

Miami, a MAC-best 31-15 starting with going 2-1 over the last three games of the 2015 season, is 0-7 against the “Victory Bell” arch-rival Bearcats under Martin. The COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020 game.

Of all the coaches who’ve preceded Martin at Miami, the one he most reveres is Ara Parseghian, who went 39-6-1 in five seasons at his alma mater before leaving for the Northwestern job and then moving on to Notre Dame.

Martin was an assistant coach at Notre Dame before coming to Miami. He’s tied with Parseghian for career wins as Miami’s coach. Win No. 40 might produce goosebumps.

“He’s my guy,” Martin, a Chicago-area native, said. “I’ve always been a Notre Dame fan. I don’t have much in my office, but I do have a football signed by him. He said, ‘Congratulations on a great season,’ after we went from 0-6 to 6-6. That made me feel good.”

About the Author