Athletic director David Sayler made the right call when he relieved Don Treadwell of his head coaching duties after an 8-21 record on the job, including an 0-5 start this year. And though the firing didn’t save the RedHawks from an embarrassing 0-12 season, Sayler sent the right message in firing Treadwell.
The school that has had coaches like the father of modern offensive football in Paul Brown, legends like Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and many more darken its doors, expects to win.
It’s well-trodden ground to bring all of this up, but wins have been in short supply down at Yager Stadium as of late.
The RedHawks have had only one winning season since 2006, but all of us should be reminded of where our football program, which is the winningest in MAC history, has been and take pride in that. The days haven’t always been so dark.
But good news broke Tuesday when Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin was announced as the new RedHawk head football coach.
Martin is a Brian Kelly protÃ©gÃ©, serving as a coordinator on both sides of the ball (and as recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame for two seasons) for Kelly at different stops, but most importantly, taking over for him as head coach at Division II Grand Valley State when Kelly left for greener pastures in 2003.
He won two national championships and went 74-7 as head coach before joining back up with Kelly at Notre Dame in 2010.
“Chuck was 74 and 7 as a head coach, plus coordinator experience at Notre Dame, plus believes in academic mission…..check, check, and check,” athletic director David Sayler tweeted after the news of Martin’s hiring broke.
Sayler knows Martin has proven he can win, not just gameplan.
This was probably Treadwell’s main deficiency. When he was hired by the now departed AD Brad Bates in 2010, Treadwell, who’s an alum, called it a dream come true to return to his alma mater as the head football coach.
He understood the history, but his head coaching experience was all of two games, when he filled in for Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio when Dantonio suffered a mild heart attack during the 2010 season. This lack of experience showed.
The folly in handing over the reins of the Cradle of Coaches to a coach who’s never been the head guy is crystalized best by Utah State’s head coach Matt Wells, who took over for Gary Andersen this year after serving as his offensive coordinator.
Wells said, in part, about becoming a head coach during a recent interview, “there is really no Cliff Notes version for it. . .but it’s just kind of going from week to week and having a plan and sticking to it.”
There is truly no substitute for having the buck stop with you, and succeeding in that role. Some coaches don’t do well with it. Treadwell, who was a solid offensive coordinator in East Lansing, proved he couldn’t handle it.
When the offense couldn’t move the ball, Treadwell and the staff made the call to switch their entire offensive system, trying out a pistol veer package, without installing the typically corresponding run and shoot pass game with it. A mid-season switch in offensive systems, no matter how bad you are, is almost always a terrible idea unless your name is Darrell K. Royal.
Fortunately for the future of the program, Chuck Martin has proven he can win. It doesn’t matter if it was at a smaller school.
Just look at Brian Kelly; Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and now at Notre Dame-he’s won everywhere he has been because it is what he expects to do.
So what if he’s not an old Miami guy? That didn’t turn out so well last time with Treadwell, and anyone can get excited about following in the footsteps of legends.
“You think of the Cradle of Coaches and the people that have come through here,” Martin said at his press conference. “I know, in this state, Woody Hayes is the king of the Cradle of Coaches. Up in Michigan, it’s Bo Schembechle. But for us in Notre Dame it was Ara Paresghian. I was getting my hair cut yesterday and (Parseghian) was in the same seat I was the day before talking about how Miami has to get this one right. ‘We’ve got to get it back.’ Just the fact that Ara Pareseghian is still talking about the job I was about to take sends chills down my spine.”
It won’t be easy to turn a team around from an embarrassing winless season, but we should all be glad Sayler brought in a coach who’s been around a proven winner for much of his professional coaching career, and had great success when he was the man in charge.