Despite injuries, Martin stays confident in bowl guarantee

Nick Walton

Football coach says experience helps him now

Kent State football coach Doug Martin is confident.

In himself, his players and his predictions.

Even during one of the toughest weeks in the season, Martin voiced his confidence.

At a press conference Sept. 14 announcing the end of senior running back Eugene Jarvis’ season because of a kidney injury, Martin made a strong prediction.

“We don’t have our starting quarterback. We don’t have our starting running back. I don’t care,” Martin said during the press conference. “I’ll guarantee every Kent State fan right now this is going to be a winning football team, and this football team is going to be in a bowl game.”

While the prediction might have sounded rash during an emotional press conference, the guarantee instilled confidence in the team. Junior safety Brian Lainhart, who was at the press conference, said he loved the guarantee.

“Everybody around the program is used to making excuses for (too many injuries),” Lainhart said. “He said that, and he threw every excuse we had right out the window.”

Lainhart said the confidence Martin has in the players reflects the confidence he has in himself.

“He believes he’s the best coach in the (Mid-American Conference), and we believe he is too, just like he believes we’re the best players in the MAC,” Lainhart said. “A coach’s attitude carries off to the whole team.”

Martin said the point of his guarantee was to make the team and community realize the team is talented enough despite losing key players. Martin’s confidence in his team is starting to show on the field.

“As good as Eugene is, we got other good (running backs),” Martin said. “(Sophomore running back) Jacquise Terry has rushed for over 100 yards the last two games, and that’s what I expect us to do. If one guy gets hurt, we continue on, and we’re good enough to win and we should win, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Martin said he was so adamant with his guarantee because he knows the team looks to him for leadership.

“I knew the players were going to look to me to see how I handled (the situation), and that does start at the top,” Martin said. “Then they look at Brian Lainhart and see how he’s going to handle it and right on down the pecking order. It was really important for me to put that out there that we were still going to be successful.”

With conference play for the remainder of the season, Martin said he tries to remind the team of their expectations every day and tell them to view every conference game as a one-game MAC Championship.

“We already won one against Miami. Now we got another MAC Championship here Saturday against Bowling Green, and then, no matter what happens in that one, we’ve got to go to the next one,” Martin said. “Very rarely does anybody win the MAC East or the MAC West with an undefeated conference record. You probably are going to lose a game somewhere along the line, but you can’t lose two in a row, and that’s what I’ve been emphasizing with the players.”

Earlier in his coaching career, Martin said he was hesitant to put pressure on players, but this has changed over the last couple of seasons. He said he feels the improvement of team leaders has allowed him to put pressure on the team and hold them more accountable.

Lainhart said the pressure and competition to perform forces players to perform.

“If you mess up, they recruited a guy that’s good enough to go right in and play,” Lainhart said. “Even at practice, you can’t come out here and take a day off of practice – you might not get your job back. I really like that because it keeps guys on their toes. It keeps guys working hard.”

After six years as Kent State’s head coach, Martin said his improvement as a coach has come from experience.

“With experience, you get better because you’ve seen things happen before, and history kind of repeats itself, and if you learn from it, you can get better,” Martin said. “I think our staff as a whole has gotten better, so we’ll see how this season ends up to grade that.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at