Rumors put to rest: Martin gets vote of confidence from director Kennedy

Thomas Gallick

The Kent State athletic department held a meeting with the local media Friday to announce its intention to “fulfill” its contract with football coach Doug Martin.

Martin is under contract with the university until the end of the 2010 season.

Martin’s record as head coach

2004: 5-6 (4-4 MAC)

2005: 1-10 (0-8 MAC)

2006: 6-6 (5-3 MAC)

2007: 3-9 (1-7 MAC)

2008: 2-7 (1-4 MAC)

Laing Kennedy, Kent State director of athletics, said he wanted to quell any rumors that Martin would not return as coach next season.

“I just want to confirm that we will continue to support coach Doug Martin as our football coach at Kent State,” Kennedy said. “Doug is under contract, and it is certainly our desire that we’re going to fulfill that commitment.”

Both Kennedy and Martin talked about the importance of coaching staff stability when it comes to recruiting.

“There’s a lot of negative recruiting that goes on in our conference because there’s so many of us right here in this state,” Martin said. “We’ve picked up three commitments in the last week, and it was important to be able to hang onto those guys and not let them get bombarded with (rumors).”

Kennedy said he wanted to make sure other schools could not tell recruits the coaching situation at Kent State is unstable.

Kent State hired Martin, who served one season as the team’s offensive coordinator after seven years at the same position at East Carolina, to replace Dean Pees as football coach in 2004.

The Flashes have compiled a record of 17-38 under Martin during his five years as coach, including a 6-6 season in 2006.

Kent State went 11-44 in the first five years of Pees’ tenure and has had only one winning season in its last 20 years.

Martin said despite the Flashes’ losing record since he became coach, the talent at Kent State has improved greatly due in large part to the recruiting of his staff.

“The stability of the staff is really important as far as recruiting,” Martin said. “It’s one of the (reasons) the talent has upgraded here so much over the last couple of years because our coaches have been in the same recruiting areas for the last three years.”

Martin said although his assistant coaches have supported him all season, he and Kennedy will be evaluating their performances at the end of the year.

Ball State’s football coach Brady Hoke came into a similar situation when he became the Cardinals’ coach in 2003 and had four straight losing seasons before earning a 7-6 record last season. Hoke’s Cardinals are currently 9-0 on the season and ranked 17th in the Bowl Championship Series rankings.

Martin said he hopes to achieve Ball State’s level of success in the future, but he realizes how hard it is to turn a losing program around.

“Everybody wants to jump on the Ball State wagon right now,” Martin said. “Brady Hoke’s done a great job, and Brady’s a good friend of mine. Look at what they had to endure to get where they are. That wasn’t an overnight success.”

Kennedy said he wanted to bring in former Kent State coaches, such as college football Hall of Famer Don James, to help evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the program. James led the Flashes to their only Mid-American Conference championship in 1972 and recorded a 25-19-1 record at Kent State before leaving to coach at the University of Washington.

Kennedy said making Kent State’s football team successful is the most important goal in his professional career. He said the failures of the team recently have been especially hard on him.

“It’s agonizing,” Kennedy said. “I can’t hide it. Personally it’s very disappointing.”

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].