You know that episode of Seinfeld with the Indian wedding, where they show the whole thing backwards, starting in India and ending with the day Jerry moves into his apartment? Well, this is kind of like that, minus the various Harold Pinter references that found their way into the script. And also minus an Indian wedding. Really, I'm just ripping off the whole backwards story thing.
As all our loyal Hustle Belt readers surely know by now, Miami has a new head coach, former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin. (Here's our profile of him.) And Martin has started filling out his new staff. (Here's more on the first four hires.) Martin followed Brian Kelly as the head coach at Grand Valley State University, where he took the program Kelly had built to even greater heights. He repeatedly turned down invitations to join Kelly at CMU and Cincinnati, only leaving GVSU for the Fighting Irish, where he's worn several hats, including offensive coordinator and nationwide recruiting coordinator. And he's putting the band back together, it seems, leaning heavily on his successful coaching staff from GVSU to build a cadre of assistant coaches who know how to win championships.
But the hiring of a new coach wasn't the only positive news out of the single worst season in Miami history. (Seriously. Miami has had only two other seasons with no wins and no ties, and they were both back in the 1890s or so when teams only played three or four games a year.) Punter Zac Murphy garnered first team All-MAC honors, was named a second team All-American by SB Nation, and picked up an honorable mention All-American nod from Sports Illustrated. Dayonne Nunley also snagged a spot on the All-MAC first team, while Kent Kern and Wes Williams made the second team.
The end of the season also confirmed what Miami fans had been suspecting for the past few years: neither Don Treadwell nor John Klacik had a clue on Earth what they were doing with the offense. In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Austin Boucher (remember when he won a MAC title?), laid up with a career-ending knee injury, explained the problems with the coaching staff:
"As a senior, I'm done now, so I can just say it: Coach Treadwell was a great guy, but in the end I don't know if he was a great fit for Miami," Boucher said. "We had a MAC championship team (in 2010), we didn't lose a lot of guys, but we just had this continual decline."
Boucher said he thought part of the problem was Treadwell's schemes, and part was not having the right players to run them.
"We started the year running triple-option, and three games in, we scrapped all that," Boucher said. "We didn't have any rhyme or reason. In the third and fourth games, we're trying to work on things we should've been doing in spring ball."
For me, anyway, that quote from Boucher sums up the whole season. Come to think of it, I'm not sure there's any need to tell a story backwards, because I'm not sure there's much point in looking at twelve losses, most of them total blowouts, in reverse. Miami had more than enough talent to at least be competitive in the MAC, but the RedHawks were led by a man who had no business being a head coach, and the team suffered mightily as a result. (I'm not holding Mike Bath totally blameless here -- after all, the team went 0-7 under his interim leadership -- but these problems were far from his making.)
I'm optimistic that Chuck Martin is the right guy at the right time, and that he can instill a culture of champions much like Randy Walker did when he took over from Tim Rose. Only time will tell, of course, but the signs look bright.