FSU baseball has had plenty of great seasons under Mike Martin without winning the College World Series – 2017 is the last chance for No. 11.
When you look at the history of college baseball, there are a handful of coaches that can be considered the greatest of all time. Names like USC’s Rob Dedeaux, Texas legend Augie Garrido, Wichita State’s Gene Stephenson and Miami’s Ron Fraser (a former FSU baseball star) are some that come to mind.
Up there with the best is the man who has been in charge of the Seminoles since the 1980 season, Mike Martin. During his 37 seasons at the helm, No. 11 has come up with 1898 wins – putting him just 77 behind Garrido for most all time – to go along with dozens of conference championships (regular and tournament) and making it to the NCAA Tournament each season.
15 of those times, he has taken FSU baseball to Omaha for the College World Series – and, as everyone knows by now, has come home empty handed each time (including three losses in the title game with the last coming in 1999). In 2017, Martin has a ‘Noles team ranked as one of the top five teams in the country and another chance to head out to CWS.
It also is his final chance to bring home a title.
Martin has two years left on his contract and, while still having his health and mindset to be in charge, is going to eventually hang it up after nearly four decades in charge of the program. It’s just a fact of life that Father Time is always undefeated and Martin may want to get out sooner rather than later.
On the field, this may be the best team he has had since the 2012 team that went to Omaha the last time. That being said, some of the best players on the 2017 roster – guys like Steven Wells, Matt Henderson, Dylan Busby, Qunicy Neiporte, and Friday starter Drew Carlton – are either graduating seniors or juniors that will likely be heading to pro baseball after the season.
Don’t get me wrong…FSU baseball will still have talent around for the 2018 season barring injuries, suspensions or transfers. But the amount of talent that will be leaving after this season makes 2017 the last chance where the Seminoles can win it all without having to outplay expectations.
There are many different schools of thought as to why No. 11 hasn’t been able to bring home a crown despite being one of the top programs in the sport. Some say he has a tendency to “outcoach” himself and not let players work out of problems early in the season – others say padding the schedule early on with easier opponents doesn’t get the players ready for the postseason.
There is no question that, even if he doesn’t win a national title before hanging them up, Mike Martin will go down as one of the greatest coaches in the history of college baseball. But, just like great coaches and athletes like Dan Marino, Patrick Ewing, Ernie Banks and others, there will always be that cloud hanging over his resume.
It’s now or never for Martin.