The theme of the football program at Miami (Ohio) is change. Major, earthquake-type change.
When you’ve lost 16 games in a row, radical change is the only way to operate.
The obvious change is in the coaching staff, where Don Treadwell was fired after five games last year. With a mark of 8-21, he will not be enshrined in the “Cradle of Coaches” plaza at the south end of Yager Stadium.
Perhaps Chuck Martin, the RedHawks’ fourth coach in seven years, will some day. If nothing else, he has overhauled the culture in Oxford. His new regime’s first test comes Aug. 30, when Marshall invades for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
They teams also clashed in the 2013 opener, this time in Huntington. The Thundering Herd struggled in the first half and the teams were deadlocked at 14. The Herd firebombed the RedHawks after halftime, outgaining them 371-54 and outscoring them 38-0 in a 52-14 romp.
Just something else for Miami to change.
“Everything is way different with a new coach and new quarterback,” said Dave Meyer, who has had to tally the carnage as Miami’s assistant athletic director of communications. “Even the atmosphere is totally different. It’s really amazing.”
Martin arrived with a head coaching record of 74-7. (No typo; that’s seventy-four.) Miami, by contrast, is 24-57 in its last 81 games, dating back to mid-2007.
Martin, who was an accomplished safety and place-kicker at Milliken University in Decatur, Ill., compiled that stratospheric record in six seasons at Division II powerhouse Grand Valley State. He spent 10 years total at the Allendale, Mich., school, helping the Lakers to four national championships.
He then worked from 2010-13 at Notre Dame, the last two seasons at offensive coordinator under Brian Kelly, who was also Martin’s boss at Grand Valley. As one might expect, Martin brings a few facets of the game from South Bend.
Most noticeable will be Andrew Hendrix, a quarterback who is a graduate transfer from Notre Dame. He played sparingly but was on the traveling squad for his entire time with the Fighting Irish, and his chemistry with Martin easily transfers.
Miami’s 2013 numbers show Hendrix can only improve matters. The RedHawks gained just 225.8 total yards per game, scored only 13 offensive touchdowns and averaged an FBS-low 9.8 points.
Two other Notre Dame transfers are likely to start — tight end Alex Welch and cornerback Lo Wood. Welch will line up alongside a receiving corps with three top pass-catchers back, Dawan Scott, David Frazier and Alvonta Jenkins.
Wood joins a cornerback group that boasts another graduate student, Quinton Rollins. Rollins is the only Miami player to twice record seven steals in a game — oh, yes, that’s a basketball stat.
In fact, Rollins put in a full four years on the court and is playing his first football since high school. “He came out in the spring, and he’s looking pretty darn good,” Meyer said.
Change also came to the strength and conditioning program, where several players credit former Michigan State captain Paul Harker with reshaping their bodies, adding muscle and improving speed.
“I want anyone that’s going to come out and watch us to say they’re way more competitive than they were last year,” Martin said at Mid-American Conference media day. “We lost by 25 points a game. Even if it doesn’t end with a victory, they visibly can say, ‘That was a fun game to watch. They’re getting after it.’ ”
But when does Miami’s cataclysmic losing streak end?
“We’re not hiding from that,” Meyer said. “Since the day Coach Martin arrived, it’s about not what happened, it’s where they’re going.”
Reach Doug Smock at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5130 or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.