The Daily Nole

Hot Take Tuesday: Hiring Mike Martin Jr. is the Right Choice

Jeremy Esbrandt/D'Vel Photography/FSU athletics

It doesn’t take an expert to know that the 2019 baseball season has not gone as planned for Florida State. Quite honestly, the entire season itself feels like a weird do-over for head coach Mike Martin Sr.

Despite reaching the wins record in 2018 and multiple sources claiming that Martin would retire after last year, the devastating walk-off loss to Mississippi State in the Tallahassee Regional wiped out all future plans. Martin would not follow through on retirement — instead, deciding at the last second to come back for a 2019 season.

It has gone about as well as you’d expect: Embarrassing losses to Florida, the worst regular season record in decades, and a postseason berth that was seriously in doubt until mid-April. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

But Martin has more or less said that this is definitively his last year, regardless of how it ends. That means Florida State baseball will be hiring a new head coach in the coming months, under interim-turned-permanent athletic director David Coburn. Florida State baseball remains one of the premier programs of the sport — and thus the hire will be carefully watched by many.

The leading option at this point is current assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Martin Jr. The name itself provokes considerable discussion (some would say arguments) within the FSU fan base.

Admittedly, we have gone back and forth on this issue. After the 2017 season, we were quick to praise Martin Jr. and spoke approvingly of his potential hire. Less so after the 2018 season –though that criticism was more rooted in the underlying desire to have a fresh start for the program.

Clearly 2019 has put a dent in the resumes of the coaches on staff. But how much of that can be attributed to Martin’s half-in, half-out approach and how much is legitimately on the coaches? Baseball teams can have the same problem that a football or basketball team can have: when the current coach is a “lame duck”, it can make even the best assistant coaches look worse by comparison.

There’s an understandable knee-jerk reaction to the idea of hiring Martin Jr. If one hasn’t been particularly happy about these past couple of seasons, an internal hire seems like the easy way out. It would (supposedly) signal that the administration is perfectly fine with the status quo and sees no need to make an effort in finding the next head coach. After all, Martin Jr. would basically extend the worst parts of the late Martin era…right?

Before you start throwing around claims of nepotism and favoritism, consider this: Martin Jr. has gone on record and said that he has a list of changes he would like to see to the program moving forward. That includes hiring different types of coaches, changing the play-style of the team, and focusing more on recruiting.

That is about the best possible answer he could give. Those more knowledgeable about the sport often criticize Florida State’s reluctance to move into the modern era of baseball analytics, along with the fact that recruiting didn’t seem to be that big a priority for Martin Sr. as the years wore on. We all knew Martin Jr. was one of the best recruiters on staff, so his intent to keep the momentum moving forward is on cue. The willingness to transition into a new era and change your hiring practices? That was unexpected and encouraging.

There’s also an underrated line in that interview: “Being able to raise money, I want to get out in front of people, sell my vision and bring money into the program and turn around and put it right back in.”

We won’t go over the basic idea of why fundraising is important in college sports. Instead, we’ll simply point out that Martin Jr. is in a much better position to lobby for upgrades than an outside hire. Boosters are familiar with Martin Jr. and have known him for his entire coaching career.

Giving money is no easy task — but knowing the guy who is asking for it certainly helps with comfort. There are even rumors floating around that some of those higher up would be much more willing to help fund facility upgrades if Martin Jr. is the hire.

Our case is essentially this: Martin Jr. will help move the program forward, is a willing fundraiser that boosters can trust, and has a vision that he wants to execute. If you’re still not convinced, try removing the name “Martin” from his resume. You’ll probably find that he has a good case for being hired as head coach regardless of who his father is.

We know that the past two years have been disappointing. We know that a flashy external hire would placate a lot of frustration. But we plead that you consider the facts in front of you, and make a genuine assessment about what Martin Jr. would bring to the table as the next head coach of Florida State baseball.

Clint Eiland is the lead writer for The Daily Nole. Follow Clint on Twitter @ClintEiland. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at Mike@TheDailyNole.com.

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