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Clark: Martin Jr. opens up about potential of being next FSU head coach

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Mike Martin Jr. (second from left) watches a video tribute to his dad during a home game earlier this season. (Gene Williams / Warchant.com)

There is a perception among many Florida State fans -- and even some of us in the media -- that Mike Martin Jr. already knows he's replacing his father as Florida State's head baseball coach after this season.

As if it's a head-coach-in-waiting type of deal. Even if nothing is official, it's just inevitable.

On Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after his dad coached his final regular-season home game at Dick Howser Stadium, Martin Jr. said that is absolutely, positively not the case.

"I haven't been told anything," he told Warchant. "Other than I got a phone call from one of the search committee members and they asked if I had interest in the job. And obviously, I said, 'Hell yeah!' But I haven't been told anything. There are no shenanigans or shadiness or none of that. I'm just like everybody else.

"I do need to get my resume in. I haven't done that yet. But I've had a few things on my plate of late, so I'll get that turned in. I'll do a bang-up job in the interview, and we'll see where it goes."

We're almost to that point now. Florida State's regular season ends this weekend in Louisville. The Seminoles' entire 2019 season could end just a week or two after that, depending on whether they make a postseason run. Then, for the first time since 1979, Florida State will be without a head baseball coach.

And even though we've all known this day was coming for months, there is still no clarity on who will be his replacement.

Obviously, because of his success as an assistant coach and his incredibly deep connections to the program, Martin Jr. is one of the top candidates for the job.

He's been a player here. He's been a coach here for more than two decades. His dad is sort of a big deal around these parts.

There are a lot of reasons for him to be considered.

"It would mean more to me than anybody else," Martin Jr. said. "You're not going to find a candidate that would work harder, work smarter, care more about this program. It's impossible to find somebody.

"Yes, we would do certain things differently. I want to do a lot of things faster, I want to recruit faster, earlier. I want to play faster. I want to spend time and resources on the mental health side of kids. I think that's a real -- I don't want to say epidemic -- but it's real. We could take that to another level than what we have been. It's important for those guys to be in a happy place, a good place.

"Being able to raise money, I want to get out in front of people, sell my vision and bring money into the program and turn around and put it right back in."

He also has an idea of what kind of staff he would want to put together.

When we spoke on Monday, I asked him whether he would still remain the main hitting coach for the Seminoles if he got the top job.

This was Martin Jr.'s response: "What I would like to do, and you know I hate to admit that we can learn something from the guy south of us (Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan), but it would be more of hybrid coaches. Guys that are baseball guys through and through, know how to recruit, can relate to players. … We're all going to be all-hands-on-deck when it comes to recruiting, hitting, pitching, whatever the case may be. So that you can keep the program moving the way that it has to go.

"I would like to hire a guy from the pro side to broaden the net."

Like a pro scout?

"Correct, because I think it's a good idea," Martin Jr. said, acknowledging it was O'Sullivan's approach when he was hired in Gainesville. "These pro guys are out watching games all the time. They're watching [high school] seniors obviously, but holy cow, this sophomore or freshman is a really good player down here in Palm Beach, [the Gators] have gotten the first call. Because they do have two pro guys [as assistant coaches]. They know all the pro scouts. So I think that's something we should emulate, and I think it would work."

So while Martin Jr. obviously would want to continue with the tradition and legacy of Florida State baseball, that doesn't mean he wants to keep the status quo going completely.

"I am different in a lot of ways," he said. "I would tweak some things that I think would be beneficial for our program to continue moving upward."

Martin Jr. says he and his father have barely talked about the job opening at all this season. Quite frankly, he admitted, with the way the team has struggled at points in 2019, they've been focused solely on getting things turned around on the field.

The only time it's even come up between the two, Martin Jr. says, is when his dad has asked him if he's turned in his resume yet.

"He'll get on to me about that," Martin Jr. said with a laugh. "But shoot, the way this season has gone, we've had other issues that need to be addressed. We haven't spoken a word about it."

The veteran assistant coach says he has been able to compartmentalize this season, not letting his uncertain future distract him from the task at hand. He's not missing recruiting trips or practices to prepare for a potentially life-changing interview in a few weeks.

That's not how he operates.

"I'm 100 percent focused," Martin Jr. said. "There is no prepping. This has been my life. It's all in this shallow brain of mine, but it's in there. I don't need to prep for it. I need to get it on paper, and stuff like that, but they can walk in right now and interview me and it's been ingrained in me -- what I want to change and what I want to do and how we'd go about doing that."

Obviously, we know who Martin Sr. wants to replace him when his retirement becomes official in the coming weeks. And we also know Martin Jr. is very interested in doing the replacing.

But if FSU athletics director David Coburn has an idea of what direction he's going to go, he hasn't tipped his hand to either.

In the meantime, the Martins will continue to focus almost exclusively on trying to beat Louisville this weekend and then making another long run in the ACC Tournament.

The Seminoles have won back-to-back ACC tourneys and three of the last four. If they can work their magic again, it could do wonders for their chances of making the NCAA Tournament and eventually the College World Series.

"It is such a neat accomplishment and such a thrill … and I want it for these guys," Martin Jr. said of the CWS. "They've been through a lot. They deserve it. I think pulling out of what we pulled out of, these guys are resilient, they're tough. They've been through it. They're hardened. That's why we're not scared of anybody."

Contact senior writer Corey Clark at corey@warchant.com and follow @Corey_Clark on Twitter.


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