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Insights and Observations

Henry's Highlights
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

By Henry Hinton

Martin making his mark building a program

Former ECU offensive coordinator Doug Martin is not just a 'Flash' in the pan as head coach at Kent State

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Leaving East Carolina was difficult for Doug Martin. Serving on Steve Logan’s staff for ten years, Martin had become very comfortable. The abrupt end to that era shut a door for Martin.

Another opened immediately and now Martin is the head coach at Kent State University in Ohio.

“I was so comfortable at East Carolina, I probably would have never left,” Martin said last night on Talk 1070’s "Tuesday Tailgate" show.

Talking to co-hosts Kevin Miller and Mike Steele, the former Pirate offensive coordinator described what it has been like to build a Kent program that has languished in the Mid-American Conference for years with little success.

“The problem here, unlike when we were at East Carolina, is they have not had success here before,” said Martin. “Building confidence and leadership in this team were the first things. After that the other things started falling into place.”

Kent State is known more for the famous on-campus National Guard shooting in the 'seventies (Remember Neal Young’s song “Four Dead in Ohio”?) than for its athletics. The program has had just two winning seasons since 1987. The last conference championship came in 1972.

The 2006 season is Martin’s third and all of a sudden his team is making some noise. After an opening season home loss to Minnesota and an overtime loss to Army at West Point, Martin’s Flashes have caught fire and reeled off five wins in a row.

With home games left with Ohio and Eastern Michigan and road games at Ball State, Buffalo and Virginia Tech, the possibility of a bowl game and a MAC championship is becoming very real. Martin is now the toast of the town.

Kent State’s season is already marked with some earthshaking events that could be program-changing. For instance, the Flashes beat Bowling Green, a perennial MAC powerhouse, on the road for the first time since 1972.

“That was the worst loss they have ever had in that stadium,” Martin said. “That was a big deal for us since they have been to bowl games and won the conference a lot.”

The Flashes also defeated Miami (OH) for the first time since 1988, and last week got an impressive 40-14 victory over Toledo. The week before that, Martin’s team thrashed its closest rival, Akron, which is just fourteen miles away, by a score of 37-15. Yes, that is the same Akron team that beat N.C. State earlier this season.

The Toledo game pitted two former Pirate coordinators against each other. Former ECU defensive boss, Tim Rose, is now the coordinator at Toledo.

Asked if he was able to take advantage of what he knew about Rose’s defensive style and strategy, Martin laughed and said it was a double-edged sword for them both.

“That helped us but, then again, Tim knew what we were doing, too. We are running the exact offense we ran at East Carolina, so it works both ways,” said Martin. “We matched up well with Toledo, though, so it was a great win.”

Martin has taken advantage of relationships he built in Greenville to the betterment of his program at Kent. Former ECU assistant coaches Jerry McManus and Terry Tilghman have followed Martin to KSU, as has former Pirate receiving great Jason Nichols, who coaches the Flashes' wideouts.

McManus was the one coach retained off Steve Logan’s staff by John Thompson at ECU. After one year, however, he moved north to reunite with Martin as his assistant head coach and running backs coach.

“Jerry does a great job of recruiting,” said Martin. “He knows exactly what our offense is supposed to do. All of those guys have really worked out well.”

McManus still recruits North Carolina and was responsible for the luring to Kent State of former Greenville Rose quarterback Lenaric Muldrow, who led his high school team to a state championship two years ago.

“He (Muldrow) is going to be a dynamic player for us,” said Martin. “He injured his knee early and he is red-shirting this year, but we have him as a punt returner and receiver in the same style as Jason Nichols. Jason is working with him and he is going to be really good.”

As Martin enters the second half of his season, his squad's 5-2 record sets the stage for the biggest opportunity of his young head coaching career, but he has not forgotten his roots.

“I love Greenville,” says Martin. “We had so many great years there and I owe Steve Logan a lot. It was the best thing that ever happened to me working for him. A lot of what we’re doing, I learned from him.”

With Martin’s background and offensive mind, it was only a matter of time before he found success. Even though he now dons the blue and gold each Saturday instead of the purple and gold, one gets the feeling he still feels as though he is a Pirate.

In return, there are many Pirates who continue to be Doug Martin fans. It will be interesting to see how the Kent State season ends.

One thing is for sure, the job Martin has done at KSU is putting people on notice that he is an up and comer in the college football coaching world.

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This page updated 04/21/08 07:06 PM.

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