The Miami RedHawks are 2.5 seasons into the Chuck Martin Experience, and it has been a mixed bag to say the least. The team snapped its 22-game losing streak in his first season against UMass and made former basketball player Quinten Rollins into a second round pick, but is also 1-2 against FCS teams during Martin’s tenure and hasn’t had conference win bigger than the one over Kent State in 2014. However, this isn’t even the time to consider a coaching change for Miami, considering that Martin practically had to build a new program from scratch and is just now on the cusp of fielding good teams in the future.
Let’s not forget just how bad the RedHawks were when Martin arrived in Oxford. The team was coming off of its worst season in school history, with 9.8 points per game on offense and 35.7 PPG on defense. Also, out of Don Treadwell’s last two recruiting classes in 2012 and 2013 consisting of 46 players, only 25 were still on the roster when Martin showed up, which points to a bare cupboard when it comes to senior talent and leadership that’s really hard to overcome in major college football.
In spite of all this, Martin has made Miami a tough out in the MAC with nine of its 14 conference losses coming in games that were decided by ten points or less, where a handful of breaks or a couple more plays made and the RedHawks come away with wins in those games. Also, the ‘Hawks have the talent to make a MAC East run in the next couple of seasons with two of the top three recruiting classes in the MAC in 2015 and 2016. There’s no reason to undo all the progress that the program has made just because Miami didn’t turn it around immediately, when we knew that it was never going to be a quick rebuild from the jump and it’ll probably won’t completely heal from the scars of the Treadwell era until the 2020’s at least. The damage done to the program’s reputation will be hard for any coach to overcome.
Now if there’s a legitimate criticism of the Martin era RedHawks, it’s the inability to tailor the offense to their personnel. Miami could’ve had a shot a bowl game in 2014 if Andrew Hendrix was asked to throw 40+ times a game, but Martin wanted to commit to running the football since that’s what he wanted its offensive identity to be. It’s the same issue with Billy Bahl; you have to tailor your offense around the guys you have, not the other way around. However, taking on the best two teams in the MAC East on back-to-back weeks with a roster that has no business being on the field with those teams with their youth and having competitive games is an incredible feat, so you have to give Martin credit for that.
Miami has to keep Chuck Martin around, since there are very few coaches in the country that could’ve made the RedHawks competitive almost instantly with the resources that were available in 2014. Firing him at this point will only create more dysfunction and make it hard for the ‘Hawks to get a good coach if a multiple-time national champion head coach (at the Division II level) gets canned for doing the best with what he had. Miami already made this mistake in other sports, when David Sayler made a splash in his first few months at MU when he fired a conference title-winning and longest tenured head coach in Miami women’s basketball history in Maria Fantanarosa, and the program hasn’t been the same since. Hopefully Sayler doesn’t make the same mistake twice and doesn’t give in to the keyboard warriors on the RedHawk message boards, and gives Martin the chance he needs to field a great team in 2017.