FSU’s Martin seeking wins record and elusive baseball title
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The numbers have a way of running together for Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin — at least when it comes to counting victories.
Martin is two wins shy of becoming the second coach in NCAA baseball history to reach 1,900. He could get the milestone this weekend during the Seminoles’ three-game series against VCU.
“The numbers now in my career I can honestly say are just that,” he said. “Right now, I am focused on this team and our goal, and that is to get to Omaha.”
And winning. Getting to Omaha, Nebraska, hasn’t been the issue, but Martin is in his 38th season and the Seminoles are still chasing their first College World Series championship.
Martin’s teams have been to the CWS 15 times but have only reached the finals twice (1996 and ‘99). Their last appearance was in 2012, which is only the third time in Martin’s tenure the Seminoles have had a CWS drought of four or more seasons.
“I would never minimize winning a national championship because it would mean Florida State is at the top when it is all said and done,” said Martin, who turned 73 last Sunday. “If we never win a national championship, I want to be able to look at myself in retirement and say it wasn’t for lack of effort or preparation, it was just baseball.”
Martin’s program, which has an impressive .738 winning percentage, has been among the most consistent. They have won 40 or more games each year and have not missed the NCAA Tournament.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, one of 49 players coached by Martin to reach the major league, said the biggest thing he learned from Martin was attention to detail.
“Once you got it right, you do it again, do it 10 more times. He was very driven to get us to play very clean, fundamentally sound baseball,” Cash said.
Many believe this is one of Martin’s best teams. The Seminoles are ranked in the top five of most major polls and Baseball America has them second. They were also the preseason pick to win the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Martin also continues to be someone that young coaches look up to. Clemson’s Monte Lee said Martin’s ability to develop players at the collegiate level is unmatched.
“Not only has he been able to recruit, but you know that if you go there, you are going to be a better player,” said Lee, who turned 40 on Feb. 9. “They may not always have the most talented teams, but they always overachieve. When they have talent, and they certainly do this year, it is scary to see what they can do.”
Scott Stricklin hopes to have Martin’s longevity. He took over Kent State’s program in 2005 when he was 32 before being hired by Georgia. Now in his fourth season with the Bulldogs, Stricklin knows longevity is more difficult.
“It is going to be tough to be a 30-year guy, especially in a Power Five conference, because of the grind and pressure,” Stricklin said. “Every game for most schools is televised, and recruiting never stops.”
Martin, whose contract runs through next season, might not be eyeing 1,900 but knows he needs 78 wins to become the winningest coach. Augie Garrido pushed the all-time mark to 1,975 before he stepped down at Texas last year.
“I may not be focused on 1,900 wins but for me to say I don’t care about the record I would be lying. That’s a different story,” he said.
Martin said he will discuss his future with athletic director Stan Wilcox next year. Martin has said he has no aspirations of managing his grandson in college. Tyler Martin, who is the son of FSU assistant Mike Martin Jr., is a freshman in high school.
Martin’s future has become a topic of discussion as other long-tenured coaches are retiring.
Mark Marquess, who is second in active wins with 1,585, is in his 41st and final season at Stanford. Jim Morris, a former Martin assistant, is third at 1,535 and has told Miami he is stepping down at the end of next season, which will be 37 years with the Hurricanes and Georgia Tech.
Morris, who took over Georgia Tech in 1992 when he was 32, believes it is unlikely anyone other than Martin will come close to 2,000 wins again.
“If Mike gets the record, it might never be broken,” he said. “It is harder to get hired at a young age to lead programs. It takes longer to work your way up.”
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This game. This rivalry. This season. It hasn’t meant this much in a long time.