MUNCIE – With the heat under Ball State football coach Stan Parrish turning Cardinals red, many in Muncie are wondering not just when they'll see a new coach, but what coach will restore the program to the heights reached during the glorious 2008 season.
Not among the dreamers for new leadership is Ball State athletic director Tom Collins. Collins has been a staunch supporter of Parrish and the football program. However, the Cardinals (2-5, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) are in a position where progress needs to be demonstrated over the final five games of this season. If more embarrassing defeats — such as those that occurred over the past two weeks — continue, Collins may not have any choice but to quiet the masses and relieve Parrish of his duties.
If that scenario unfolds, what type of coach does Ball State need to lead its program?
Finding a coach with successful head coaching experience would be nice. And in the wake of giving up the most points (86) in consecutive losses in MAC play since 2004, it might not hurt to find a coach that has the ability to teach the finer points of defensive play.
Another requirement should be hiring a coach that has recruiting ties within the Midwest. Ball State has done like most programs and recruited players from the south. However, the Cardinals find the majority of their roster right here in the Midwest and have just eight players from outside this region.
Is there a coach out there who could fulfill all of the above criteria? Well it just so happens there is, Notre Dame defensive backs coach Chuck Martin.
“Chuck's ready to be a head coach,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “He can coach anywhere in the country.”
Kelly would know of Martin's ability. He hired him while he was head coach at Grand Valley State and also pursued him immediately after becoming the Fighting Irish coach.
Martin spent 11 seasons coaching defense (at five different schools) before being promoted to defensive coordinator at Grand Valley State. When Kelly left to take the same job at Central Michigan, Martin was promoted to head coach. While leading the Lakers, he won 91.4 percent of his games over six seasons, including a pair of NCAA Division II national championships.
“Someday, if it opens up an opportunity for him (to be a Division I head coach), I'm sure that I'm going to be the first one on the phone recommending him,” Kelly said.
This season Martin has not only served as the defensive backs coach under Kelly, but also as the recruiting coordinator for the Irish. Kelly believes that Martin has done a nice job of transitioning from a head coach to a position coach.
“I think that it was an adjustment for him to go to a position coach,” Kelly said. “But putting the recruiting responsibilities on his plate I think both of those things have really energized him.”
Notre Dame's pass efficiency defense has improved dramatically this season under Martin's tutelage, going from 82nd in the nation a year ago to 49th thus far this season.
Though Kelly acknowledged that Martin would make a very fine candidate to lead a Division I program, he was also quick to point out that step is neither on Martin's, nor Kelly's mind, right now.
“He didn't come to Notre Dame to be a head coach (somewhere else),” Kelly said. “He came here to make sure that Notre Dame gets back to where it needs to be. I know that is his short- and long-term goal.”