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Football: Former asst. Martin to lead defensive backs

Michael Bryan | Wednesday, January 20, 2010

At every stop since departing Grand Valley State, Irish coach Brian Kelly had asked longtime colleague Chuck Martin to join him.  And at both schools — Central Michigan and Cincinnati — Martin declined.

Then, with Kelly now at his dream destination in South Bend, Martin accepted the offer to lead the defensive backs. And the coach with two Division II National Championships couldn’t be happier.

“I thought this was the greatest place on the planet since I don’t even know what age, but since the first time I figured out that Notre Dame existed,” Martin said.

“When they broke out the green jerseys against USC, we were out in the backyard pretending we had green jerseys putting it on USC. It’s pretty neat for me as a person and for my family with all of the love and respect we have for this university and what it’s all about.”

After winning a Division II national title as Kelly’s defensive coordinator, Martin took over the head coaching position at Grand Valley State and compiled a 74-7 record. Kelly was excited to team back up with his former assistant.

“[Martin] took a program that had won a number of championships, and, believe it or not, built on that,” Kelly said. “He knows how to get the best out of his players. And the success that he has had at Grand Valley State is unparalleled across the country.”

While he coached the last decade at the Division III level, Martin was confident that his coaching abilities would be able to easily translate to a higher level at Notre Dame.

“It’s still 18 to 24-year-old kids and still a process of developing those kids. They’re bigger, stronger and faster but I’ve coached Division I, Division II and Division III and other than that they’re no different,” Martin said. “They have a lot more God-given talent, but other than that the development of them is still the key.”

Martin said coaching at several levels of competition had actually been a benefit in both his and Kelly’s development as coaches.

“The nice thing is from my background … is starting off from the level we started off at you have to develop kids,” Martin said. “That’s hopefully what I’ll bring to Notre Dame and the secondary is that ability to teach and develop and get the most out of their God-given abilities because at the level I’ve coached at you have to or you won’t be very good.”

Born in Chicago, Martin said his primary recruiting regions will be his hometown as well as the state of Michigan.

“I grew up my whole life in Chicago, and the excitement to be able to [recruit there] is off the charts,” Martin said. “I spent the last 12 years of my life in Michigan … and I have a lot of great ties there too.”

The Notre Dame secondary was a unit that struggled throughout 2009, and Martin will face the challenge of replacing senior captain Kyle McCarthy and experienced defensive backs Sergio Brown and Raeshon McNeil.

“Every touchdown goes through the secondary, its kind of their badge of honor that we can’t let the ball get in the end zone,” Martin said of his philosophy coaching the unit. “The biggest thing is no big plays. If you make a team grind out 10-, 12-, 14-play drives and they’re good enough to do that four or five times in a game, you have to kind of tip your hat to them and say they were the better program on that particular day.

“But to go home and lose a game because they had two or three quick scoring drives, you can’t live with that.”

Martin also brings on-field experience to the defensive backs group, having played as an All-American safety at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill. He has also coached on the defensive side of the ball as an assistant at Eastern Michigan and Wittenberg University.
While Martin will go to work with the defensive backs in the coming weeks, for now he’s excited just to be starting a new job at his favorite place.

“I’ve loved this university, I’ve believed in this university and everything it stands for from a student-athlete perspective and from a spiritual perspective for my whole life.” Martin said. “The opportunity to come to the place you not only love more than any place on the planet, but you have more respect for how things are done at the University of Notre Dame …this is everything good about what is going on in my opinion.”