Athletic Mailbag -State of the Miami program

I think this is a pretty fair assessment…

Two questions: 1) What is Miami(OH)’s ceiling over the long term and short term this year? 2) Is Miami coach Chuck Martin one of the more underrated coaches in the G5? He seems to churn out six-plus win seasons. — Bryan P.

Martin has put together a perfectly average program for the past decade there, which is an improvement from what was there before. He had the surprise 8-6 MAC championship in 2019 and has reached three bowl games in the past four years, but 2019 was the only season with more than seven wins — until this season. This program is often limited by its difficult nonconference schedule every year. In fact, the 2021 bowl win over North Texas was Miami’s first nonconference win in more than a decade, dating back 31 games to a 2011 win against Army.

This year, the RedHawks lost to Miami (Fla.) but beat UMass, Delaware State and rival Cincinnati, and they’re 5-1 in MAC play. Martin hasn’t had a losing season in MAC play since his second season in 2015, but he’s reached only one MAC title game. All in all, it’s perfectly fine. Not bad enough to get fired, not good enough to get hired to other jobs.

But he didn’t have a breakthrough season. This season appears to finally be that. Miami is 8-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play and will likely win the MAC East (beating Buffalo on Wednesday night would clinch it). There’s a chance at 10 or 11 wins, which has been done only once there since Ben Roethlisberger led a 13-1 season and top-10 finish in 2003. Miami and Toledo are MAC programs with some of the best history and resources in a conference full of equal programs. It’s been harder for MAC teams to break out when they all have the same budgets and same pool of players. Martin’s done a really good job this year, and Miami may be poised to finally get back near the top of the conference, where it feels it belongs.