The moment that Chuck Martin’s tenure at Miami of Ohio turned came on Oct. 13 of this year.
At that precise moment, Martin was 5-25 in two and a half seasons as Miami’s coach. A two-time national champion coach at Grand Valley State, a successful offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, Martin took a pay cut to go to Miami, and now he’d won all of five games in two and a half seasons.
But, as Martin told Matt Fortuna of ESPN, that Oct. 13 night was when everything turned.
“The best thing we did is we stayed the course,” Martin said. “The Thursday before Kent State, we’re 0-6, a lot of people think we shouldn’t have jobs anymore, and I’ve got 60 coaches and players go to a walk down in Cincinnati for a kid that we adopted that’s got leukemia [6-year-old Liam Kaufman].
“That’s the proudest moment of the year. We weren’t going to change who we are because we’re 0-6, which is hard to do. Trust me, I lived it for 2 1/2 years. It’s easier said than done. We said we’re going stick with our beliefs, we’re going to stick with doing things the right way.”
You could say that was the “night is darkest before the dawn” moment for the RedHawks’ program, Martin’s equivalent to the midnight run to the Gettysburg cemetery in Remember the Titans. But Martin didn’t change anything. No big speeches were given. Instead, Miami continued doing what they’d always done, buttressed by the faith that eventually the worm would turn.
And turn it has.
Two days later the RedHawks beat Kent State 18-14, and since they’ve ripped off wins over Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Buffalo. Each of those final four wins have come by 13 points or more.
Beat Ball State on Tuesday and not only will Miami reach its first bowl game since 2010, they’ll become the first program in college football history to start 0-6 and finish 6-6.
They would make that history knowing that what they were doing was going to work all along. They just had to give it time.
“When he says something there’s a sense of meaning and sincerity in his voice,” Miami quarterback Gus Ragland said of Martin. “He said it for a long time: ‘This team’s good, and we’ve just got to believe it.’ We just kept working. It wasn’t easy. Obviously it was pretty crappy sometimes, but just coming to work every day [with] a lot of dudes on the team willing to get better.