Martin discusses coaching past, present, future
Published 9:54 am Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Calera’s new head football coach Scott Martin met his team last week. He brings with him a record that doesn’t look so good on paper, but in an interview with the Reporter, Martin breaks down his wins and losses over 17 years as a head coach in Louisiana.
Martin moved to Calera in June 2008 after retiring from coaching in Louisiana when he won a state championship as an assistant coach at Destrehan High School in 2007. He, his new wife Tammy and his son Chris, a sophomore, moved to her house in Calera. They met while she was a travel nurse in Louisiana and married Feb. 2, 2008.
Below is part of the interview.
Tell me a little bit about the past year for you at Spain Park.
I have nothing but great things to say about Spain Park. I really love Spain Park. I was able to land a job there. Coach (David) Shores hired me just by happenstance. I had sent him a resume and he interviewed and hired me. I helped coach wide receivers there and was very grateful to be able to work at a place like Spain Park, which is obviously a premier coaching job in the state of Alabama, especially the year after them getting into the state finals.
With a new staff, we got to hire five new coaches. We had a lot more than five apply, so I was very fortunate to get on. Obviously my years of experience helped me to get the job. He needed somebody with experience that had head coaching experience. He was a brand new head coach. It’s tough enough to be a brand new head coach at 31 years old, but to be a brand new head coach at Spain Park at 31 years old was a tough job. I thought he handled adversity well, because we knew weren’t going to be as good.
I got a chance to sink my teeth into Region 6 football my first year here. It’s perennial one of the strongest regions in the state, obviously with Hoover in there and Spain Park going to the finals. You begin to see a big time side of football through the eyes of all of those other coaches that play that type of schedule.
Were you familiar with Calera’s program at all last year?
Our house is in Calera, so naturally one of the first things I did … I kind of kept up with what Calera football was doing, just because we live in Calera and I’m a football coach. We’d be watching the Friday night football scores, and I’d check out Calera.
I’d told my wife that I had a great job at Spain Park. I wasn’t looking to relocate at any time. I wasn’t looking for another job. Like I said, David and Mr. Broadway had been great to me, but if the Calera job, head football job, ever came open that would be one that kind of peaks my interest.
I had been a head coach for 17 years. I had just finished my second year as an assistant. One year at Dessterhan High School in Louisiana and we won the championship and of course the other at Spain Park.
I think the question was asked to me is hard to be an assistant coach after being a head coach for so long. I think the question was asked to me is hard to be an assistant coach after being a head coach for so long. The answer to that is, it’s not hard being an assistant coach because you know what the head coach wants in his assistants, so you know how to be a good assistant. But it’s hard not making the final decisions. I was a great assistant, but I still had that yearning to be back as a head football coach, and I didn’t think I would be removed from the head football coaching position the rest of my coaching career.
Some people make that run as a head football coach and decide, “That’s it. I’ve had my run at that. I’m going to be an assistant with a little less stress in my life and a little more time at the house with my wife.”
I was never that way. I wanted to be a head coach as soon as I got into coaching at 23 years old. My first head coaching job was when I was 28. I was actually 27 when I was hired, but my first season I was 28.
Comments on head coaching years.
One of the things I even brought up to our kids (April 1). If they put everything about me in the newspaper and put resume’s and the whole 9 yards, as everybody does, where it catches you coaching, is people say, “Well, you’re win loss record isn’t very good. How do you explain that?”
The explanation I have is that every program that I have ever gone to as a head coach, other than Calera, has been a rebuilding process. So, when you rebuild a program you usually have to suffer through some tough times as you are building a program. If you look at the front end of my seasons I coached, there were some pretty bad seasons early at each school I went to.
(See Records Above)
Rayville, it was kind of funny. They were 3-26 the three years before I got there. The first year I was there we go 5-4 and win the district, so we go 5-5. We lose to the No. 1 seeded team in the state of Louisiana in AA football. The thing was we took a team that was 3-26 and won a district championship with them the very next year. So, on paper, people go, “5-5?” Well, that’s pretty good when you were 3-26 before. At Neville year that we went 8-4, the year before that they were 3-6. So, we were able to make big splashes. Those teams had talent and needed direction, whereas some of the teams that lost early with, those programs needed direction and we had to develop the talent.
I think Calera is a special place because I believe the direction is going to mainly stay the same that they’re already winning football games. Now they’ve had to up to 4A, but we hope to take it to a different level.
Of course you have a lot of young talent last year that’s coming back at Calera.
Exactly. And when you have young talent and you’re still able to come off a 7-5 season, obviously the future is bright. That’s just a bonus for me getting the job. If I have to come in and rebuild, that’s the way it is. If I come in and we have some good young talent off a 7-5 team, I’m excited because you can see potentially you can have success right away.
Coach, the last two years as a head coach, of course you would love to have better win loss records, but 2-5 and 10-0?
It was probably a mistake to go back to that job. I had already been there one time and we had turned it around. It had reached a pinnacle after I left, but then it went right back down. When I took the job over again they were coming off of an 0-10 or 1-9 season. We went 2-8, then 3-7 and then the next year 4-4 headed into the last game with a chance to go to the playoffs. We were right there turning it around a game, but we lose a heart breaking game with seven fumbles and don’t make the playoffs.
The next year, one of the things you have to do at a small school without a great win loss tradition is be creative in your schedule. You play games that you can win to create confidence in your kids. But Hurricane Katrina came through, the 2-5 year and three games we could win got hurricaned out. If we add those three wins to a 2-5 record, we’re 5-5 and probably in the playoffs. We lost an enormous amount of seniors and my last year there, anything that could go wrong went wrong. We had a great group of young men, but not a very talented football team. We lost some coaches and due to budget constraints we weren’t able to replace them. There were a lot of internal issues that didn’t make it a very good situation.
This is a heavy basketball community, and football is gaining ground, but how do you feel things will be here for you and your program?
I told this to the kids, we want our school to have the best athletic program and to be good in all sports. I want us to be the best football school during football season. I want us to have the best basketball school in basketball season. I want to support all of it. I want us to have the best baseball team during baseball season. I want to support them all. Looking from the outside in, I’d call this a basketball school. If we can have one little bit of success compared to what Coach Burdette’s having, we’ll take those crumbs if that’s what it takes to start with. He and I have talked a couple of times and I think the thing is that I have such great respect for him, and he deserves it, he’s earned it. I think as long as we work together it’s going to allow kids to play multiple sports. It’s when you draw a line in the sand and say either or that you start losing in the long run, especially if that’s not the predominant sport. I’d be foolish to come in here and tell someone to be at football practice and not be at a summer basketball camp. I’ve got to sit down will all of our coaches and organize our offseason.
What style of offense, defense do you like to run? Calera and Spain Park have run versions of a spread, but I see you ran a double-wing down in Ponchatoula in 2006.
That (double-wing) was part of our 0-10. We changed our offense under some bad advice. I had been a spread guy since 1999, so for seven years we were spread and we changed thinking that was going to be the all mighty elixir that was going to make us a great football team at Ponchatoula but instead we lost every game.
To me, here’s how you make good football teams, you take your system and stick with yours system and you believe with your system. By the time every young man has been through your system and they believe in your system, you’re pretty good at it. But if you hop around and change from an option team to a spread team to an I-team, your kids never come up in a program that shows constancy.
I think that consistency of winning is picking an offense and sticking with it. So, if I come in with a spread offense, and my spread offense is not going to be Spain Park’s. We’re going to be more a Rich Rodriguez slash Gus Malzhan slash (Tony Franklin) System, because that’s what they know, the System.
My spread came when spread first hit the market. When Tulane began running the spread with Tommy Bowden and Rich Rodriguez as offensive coordinator, that’s when I jumped on both. It was a no huddle, spread offense. I was able to develop a relationship and friendship with Rich Rodriguez and Burton Burns, who was the running backs coach and is now an associate head coach at Alabama. The assistant offensive at Louisiana Tech is Frank Scelfo who as the quarterbacks coach under Rich Rodriquez. We all got to be good friends and when they started going to Clemson, I started going to because I was a Rich Rodriquez and Tommy Bowden fan. As Rich went to West Virginia, it made it a little more difficult to go there and now Tommy’s out of coaching. About five years ago, I made a phone call up to Gus Malzhan who at that time was the head coach at Springdale High School in Arkansas. Gus had written a book on the hurry up, no huddle offense. I started talking to Gus and he and I started to be friends. I gave him some film and we developed a relationship. Of course he went on to be the offensive coordinator at Arkansas and then to Tulsa. I made a trip to Tulsa last year and spent four days at Tulsa to find out what they were doing. I was not a head coach or offensive coordinator, but I didn’t want to be left behind on what’s going on in the spread offense. We came back to Destrehan and Gus and I maintained a good relationship, so it’s ironic that now I’m here and he’s now at Auburn. We’re definitely going to use that lifeline.
Have you already told the kids about the spread?
Oh, I told the kids that we weren’t changing and that we’re going to be a spread offense, and they were thrilled. I wouldn’t say it was a prerequisite for the job, but it didn’t hurt.
Community wise, how do you hope to get involved?
We want the kids to be first class in everything they do. That’s how they look on the field and how they look off the field. I want our community to be involved. That’s one thing I love, and I want to say it again, I love about small towns. They love their athletics. Alabama is a football crazy state. There’s no doubt about it, and I don’t think Calera’s any different. When it comes down to August, September, October, November we want it to be the only game in town, and then we’re going to be the biggest supporters of everything we do here. I want to encourage community involvement, but you know what helps community involvement is if I’m involved in the community. It’s good to ask for it, but then if I get in my car and drive to wherever, they never see me. Well, that’s not how it’s going to be. I live in Calera. The taxes I pay go to the school that I work in. I always thought it was important that the head football coach live in the community that he coaches. I’m going to encourage community involvement, but it’ll only work if I’m involved.