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NCAA BASEBALL

Florida State searching for new coach

For the first time since 1980, a Martin family member will not be coaching Florida State baseball next season. We look at why and who could replace him.

Jeffrey May
Update:
For the first time since 1980, a Martin family member will not be coaching Florida State baseball next season. We look at why and who could replace him.

It is never easy to live up to your dad, especially when your dad is the winningest baseball coach in NCAA Division I history. After playing under his father, Mike Martin Sr, and spending time on his coaching staff, Mike Martin Jr was given the head coaching position upon his legendary namesake’s retirement in 2019.

After struggling along with the rest of the world through the covid-shortened season, Martin Jr managed to go 77-54 through the next two full seasons. He has struggled to retain players and Florida State University let him go last week. The school has announced that they are now on the search for a new head coach, and for the first time in 42 years, it won’t be a member of the Martin family.

FSU athletic director Michael Alford said, “Ultimately, the decision came down to whether our baseball program was performing up to the admittedly high standards that we have established through our historic success, and I do not believe we were.”

After struggling with the bat for the last two seasons, the Seminoles are also at the top of the ACC in errors and strikeouts, and dead last in home runs and slugging percentage. Of the 24 position players that he has recruited in his tenure, only five remain on their roster. Sixteen never made it to their sophomore year.

Their 21-7 embarrassment at the hands of the Auburn Tigers in the regionals laid bare the real issue with the Seminoles. They are a fundamentally unsound team. Errors piled upon errors, with dropped pop flies, their inability to bunt the ball, or even to properly field a bunted ball, poor throws, and missed relays showed a lack of basic baseball technique.

Alford continued in his statement, saying, “Making the change with our baseball coach was not an easy decision, but it is our responsibility to put our student-athletes and our teams in the best position to reach their full potential.”

With the high bar set by Mike Martin Sr, who retired with 2029 wins, 736 losses, and four ties, you can expect some adjustment difficulties. But the least that you expect out of a Florida State program is solid fundamentals. For whatever reason, it was time for a change.

Who could be in the frame?

While it is still early days, there are a few names that seem to float to the top of discussions about who might be in the frame for Martin’s replacement. One of the big ones is Link Jarrett, the current Notre Dame coach and former FSU player. He is a hometown favorite and has a proven track record taking a big program deep into the NCAA tournament.

Pitt’s coach Mike Bell is another name that pops up. Also an FSU alum, he was shortlisted by the Seminoles before they went with Mike Martin Jr in 2019.

East Carolina’s coach Cliff Godwin is a name that has been tossed around as well. It would give the Seminoles a clean break with the Martin regime, and Godwin has a solid track record, assisting at LSU and Vanderbilt before taking East Carolina to the Super Regionals where they are giving Texas all kinds of difficulties.

No matter which direction Florida State goes, it will be a rebuilding process. Fundamentals will need to be addressed and retention will be a high priority.

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