Florida State Baseball Coaching Search, Job Profile And Candidates
Florida State on June 10 fired coach Mike Martin Jr. after three seasons. The Seminoles went 77-54 overall and 36-33 in ACC play in those three years. After the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, FSU lost in regionals as a No. 3 seed in each of the last two seasons.
Mike Martin Jr.’s departure is also the end of two much longer eras. It ends his time as a coach in the program, which dates to his being hired by his father in 1998, and also means there won’t be a Martin in the FSU dugout for the first time since 1974.
It’s a jarring conclusion in Tallahassee, especially when contrasted with Mike Martin Sr.’s 40 seasons at the helm. It was always going to be tough for the younger Martin to successfully fill the shoes left by “11,” but under no circumstances did anyone assume it would end this quickly.
Florida State now enters uncharted waters. There’s no in-house option for FSU, something that hasn’t been true for decades. Instead, the Seminoles are opening a new chapter in program history.
Previous Head Coach
Mike Martin, Jr.: 77-54, three seasons
Florida State is one of the biggest names in college baseball. It lacks a national title, which detractors are always quick to point out, but its consistency is impressive. Under Martin Sr., it won 40 or more games in all 40 of his seasons, won nine ACC regular-season titles and went to the College World Series 17 times. And even with the hiccups of the last couple of years, there’s no reason FSU can’t continue as a power in the sport. Dick Howser Stadium is a very good facility, even if it is a step behind some of the palaces built in the SEC, it sits close to a number of great recruiting hotbeds and it remains one of the biggest brands in college athletics. Florida State is a tougher job than it was 20 years ago or even 10 years ago, but that has less to do with its own shortcomings and more to do with the way college baseball has advanced since the program’s peak.
Will compensation increase?
One way in which Florida State hasn’t kept up with the Joneses in college baseball, so to speak, is in coach compensation. According to 2021 data from Athletic Director U, Mike Martin Jr.’s total compensation that year was $400,000, which put him next to last in the ACC among coaches at public institutions. Martin Sr. was making considerably more than that at the end of his tenure, however. How willing will FSU be to raise compensation to a level more in line with the top coaches not only in the ACC but nationally? The answer to that question could have an impact on how this search plays out.
Does an outsider fill this role?
There are obvious candidates among those who have coached or played at Florida State before. If that’s the broad direction the FSU administration wants to go, this could be a very straightforward search. But things didn’t go as planned with Martin Jr. Does that in any way push Florida State into wanting something closer to a hard reset with an outsider?
The most obvious place a new coach is going to have to rebuild is in the starting rotation, as Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart are both likely to sign as high draft picks. Ross Dunn, who started 11 games and showed some flashes of greatness before fading late, is also leaving via transfer to Arizona State. The very talented Carson Montgomery returns, however, and may be looked upon to front the rotation next season. The return of top bullpen arm Wyatt Crowell and another nice relief piece in Conner Whittaker will only help as the pitching staff is rebuilt. The offense was FSU’s biggest issue last season, but there’s reason for optimism moving forward given that its two best hitters, Jaime Ferrer and James Tibbs, were freshmen and are slated to return. With the departures of Reese Albert, Logan Lacey and Alex Toral due to graduation, plus the likely departure of Brett Roberts through the draft, however, the next coach will still need to find or develop some impact offensive pieces for that unit to be markedly better in 2023.
Since making the move two weeks ago to fire Martin Jr., Florida State has had a clear focus on Notre Dame’s Link Jarrett. Jarrett is a Florida State alumnus and spent a season on staff before his coaching career took him elsewhere. His three seasons at the helm of Notre Dame have been outstanding, as he this year led the Fighting Irish to Omaha for the first time in 20 years and last year led them to the ACC title and hosted a regional. But his resume runs much deeper than just the last three years, as he also won at a high level as head coach at UNC Greensboro and impressed as an assistant coach at Auburn, East Carolina and Mercer.
It’s easy to see why Florida State would be interested in Jarrett, and a return to his alma mater and hometown would make a lot of sense. But hiring a premium coach isn’t always a straightforward process. After an Omaha trip, Notre Dame could well step up and make a competitive pitch to Jarrett. The Irish have deep pockets and won’t be keen on the idea of losing a successful coach to a conference rival. Can they do enough to keep Jarrett in South Bend?
Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol, who played at Florida State, was considered following Martin Sr.’s retirement and would be again this year. He’s worked in pro ball his whole career and has been on the Royals big league staff since 2013. He’s also worked as a scout and managed in the minor leagues. Grifol has interviewed to be a manager in the major leagues and some believe he’ll eventually land one of those jobs. Is he willing to step away from that world to return to his alma mater?
If Florida State misses on its top two candidates, the search could open considerably. But athletic director Michael Alford will try to keep things simple and move quickly now that Jarrett and Notre Dame have concluded their season.