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Addressing the blowback to FSU hiring Mike Martin, Jr. as its new baseball coach

Mike Martin, Jr. was the best, attainable choice for the ’Noles.

Louisville @ Florida State
Florida State takes on Louisville
Steve Johnson

Introducing the new coach

Let’s take a brief sojourn to a (kind of) parallel dimension.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Longtime Blue Mountain State assistant coach Roger Dorn has been named the ninth head baseball coach in FSU history. Dorn was assistant coach under the legendary Blue Mountain State manager, Jimmy Dugan, for the past 22 years and brings a wealth of experience to the Seminoles. In his two decades as an assistant and recruiting coordinator, the Mountain Goats won 40 games in each season, advanced to Super Regionals eighteen times and reached the College World Series eight times.

During his tenure, Dorn has coached 16 Major Leaguers, 16 freshman All-Americans, 21 first team All-Americans and 41 student-athletes who have earned first, second or third team All-America accolades. In all, 77 Mountain Goats have earned all conference honors and 65 hitters have been selected in the Major League Baseball draft during that stretch.

Known for his ability to work with hitters, Dorn was responsible for an offense that finished 40th or better in scoring seventeen times and within the top 25 twelve times. Under his tutelage BMSU finished no lower than sixth in walks since 2008, leading the nation eight times during that 11-year span: 2008 (435), 2010 (402), 2011 (381), 2012 (386), 2014 (330), 2015 (379), 2017 (396) and 2018 (390).

“We are very excited to have Roger Dorn leading our baseball program into the future,” said athletic director Ray Kinsella. “His commitment to, passion for the Seminole program are second to none. “His plan for the next era of Seminole baseball is impressive. He knows what he wants to do and how he wants to do it... his attention to detail and his understanding of the great game of college baseball.”

Take a step back, try to think rationally and look at this hire from a rationale point of view. If the Seminoles were able to land an assistant coach with the accomplishments and accolades that Mike Martin, Jr. (Dorn) has but came from outside the program, and didn’t share the same last name as his predecessor, this hire would be lauded as a huge success.

The apprehension that Florida State fans feel when they hear that the son of a legendary coach is taking over as their new coach is somewhat warranted. However, the current situation involving the Mike Martin, Sr. and Mike Martin, Jr. hardly compares to Bobby Bowden handing off the offense to his incompetent and out-of-place son.

If you want to compare “Meat” to a football coach, Jimbo Fisher might be the more apt comparison. As an assistant under Bobby Bowden, Fisher had time to diagnose the problems of the football program and come up with a plan to combat those specific issues, and Martin has been afforded the same luxury. Both coaches created a plan with specific forward thinking steps to improve the program that have been used successfully elsewhere.

The Process and Alternatives

Discrediting the quality of the candidate that Florida State hired is ridiculous; he is not his father. He has learned a great deal from him, but he also has his own plans on how to improve a program that is desperately in need of upgrades. The timing of the announcement came as a bit of a surprise, because it happened so soon after the season. But it is important to note that this coaching search did not start the day after the Seminoles’ season ended at the hands of Texas Tech. It began over a year ago when Mike Martin announced that 2019 would be his last.

Last year we discussed the pros and cons of hiring Junior as the next manager, as well as others. Fans with very little knowledge of college baseball will immediately throw out well known names like Tim Corbin, Jim Schlossnagle or Dan McDonnell . These coaches are at well established college baseball schools that they built and are also among the highest paid coaches in the country. Mike Martin, Sr. was making a base salary of $700,000, and Florida State is not and will not be in a position to throw that type of money at a new coach.

Now not all coaches require a million dollars. There are some names that could have been legitimate options. ECU’s Cliff Godwin or UCF’s Greg Lovelady are both young coaches who are more than likely to land a head coaching job at a bigger name school in the next few years. Were they ever considered for the FSU gig? We honestly do not know, because not all the details of the search have been made public, and that lack of transparency is what has some fans up in arms— not the actual candidate who was hired.

One interview that is known to have taken place was with Chipola’s long time head coach and athletic director, Jeff Johnson. He has had great success in the junior college ranks for the past twenty years, even winning three national titles. It is not fair to question Johnson’s knowledge of the game or ability to coach players. What is fair to call out is his lack of knowledge of how to run a D1 college baseball program. In 2017, Chipola won the national championship with an absolutely loaded squad, as eleven of the players on the roster were drafted in the 2017 MLB amateur draft. But how many of those eleven players did Johnson recruit as a 14 or 15 year old kid?

Identifying talent at a young age, building a relationship with said kid for three or four years and even convincing said prospect to forgo a six-figure pro deal is experience you can really only get at the D1 level. If Johnson is the coach that so many people believe he is, then he needs to show it at the next level and not get his feet wet at a school as prominent as Florida State.

Any other legitimate, attainable coach that Florida State might have been able to land as their new coach would come with questions. Mike Martin, Jr. answers more of those questions than any other new coach would and has all the credentials and experience to get the Seminoles back to the upper echelon of college baseball. He also has a plan on how to change and improve the program, we will highlight those in detail with a future article.