You gotta give Martin Smith credit, the guy is a mystery. He’s the center of controversy, and the comments/compliments about him are so opposite they are like fire and water. Beyond those of us who speculate about him, those who have worked with him either love him or hate him.
After reading that recent article about two of his athletes that thought so highly of him, I was a little shocked. I’m used to hearing so much of the other side from former Martin runners or Martin observers.
I know in my few meetings with Martin he seemed great. Goofy as hell and funny. The guy dresses like a crack up (as do many coaches) but he’s had a lot of success.
One of my good friends used to run for him and he said at first, he thought Martin was the light, the way. Martin was so involved with training and the program he thought it was amazing. He said after the honeymooning though there was a lot of behind doors nastiness that changed his opinion of Martin. He won’t specify no matter how many times I asked (because I just don’t see it in Martin) he just says he’d rather forget about it. He occasionally refers to Martin by quoting things he said in a very funny voice like “you just don’t geeeeeet it………………..and you knoooooooooooow it.” Or, “you aint no goooooooooooooooooood.” And perhaps the funniest, “We’re not a good fiiiiiiiiiiit, we’re not a good maaaariage.” The way he draws out his words is hilarious.
To me it sounds quite comical, maybe not the kind of words you want to hear from a coach, but it’s as funny as Martin seems when I’ve been around him. My friend strongly disagrees.
I’ve only seen him get angry a few times, and he did look pissed, almost beside himself. But I’ve heard so many stories about him doing it.
And I’ve also heard some really solid athletes talking with the highest regard for Martin.
Here’s to Martin Smith. The man, the myth, and probably legend after this whole firing/resigning debacle. Hopefully he will be coaching soon so we can see a lot more of him, although he could certainly retire off of the money he’s to be paid!
Intense. Entertaining. Unpredictable. Driven. Moody. Funny as hell. Usually a joy to be around.
I would say for at least a 20 year period his whole entire life and existence centered around the sport of distance running. I'm sure it still is his main love but then he took a big job one time and was accountable for other track events.
I remember the time as a high school recruit when I was in his office. He was peeling an orange, wearing his standard grey university issued sweats, looked me in the eye and said, "I don't care about that other f***ing shit" meaning the non-distance track events. At that time he was an assistant and head cross coach.
The thing you have to understand about Martin is he is a black and white kind of guy. When he has a job, he puts every ounce of his existence into it. He will not tolerate or allow anything else that may interfere with the best possible outcome of his job. He is the ultimate competitor.
And he holds himself and everyone else to his high standards.
No shortcuts. Ever. He develops a plan and wants it followed.
I think the problem may be that most people are not as fully committed and intense as he is. And he has little patience for these people who he sees as being weak. Eventually, if you are one of those and are not doing anything to help him he may lose his patience and vent.
A lot of talented kids don't have the single minded work ethic Martin has and are spoiled and immature and get stressed and leave. For a short period they are relieved and may run better. But their character soon catches up with them
Martin is the greatest coach in the world with hardnosed second tier runners who are tough enough to handle a regimented and focused lifestyle, similar to what the best runners in the world exemplify. For some reason, there's a lesser chance of finding these types on the West coast than in the Midwest where he had tremendous success.
I didn't always see eye to eye, but I will always respect the man. He will always be a role model that I reflect on an remember for the good qualities, which far outshine some of his less sociable qualities.
"A lot of talented kids don't have the single minded work ethic Martin has and are spoiled and immature and get stressed and leave. For a short period they are relieved and may run better. But their character soon catches up with them
Martin is the greatest coach in the world with hardnosed second tier runners who are tough enough to handle a regimented and focused lifestyle, similar to what the best runners in the world exemplify. For some reason, there's a lesser chance of finding these types on the West coast than in the Midwest where he had tremendous success"
Do you think there is any correllation between the open mindedness that you might find in a coastal state east or west compared to the, ummmmm, ready to be molded, mindset of midwesterners?
It's kind of like great musicians or artists from those states with eastern or western states.
I agree with what you say, Martin had success with those types, a lot.
But if he couldn't have it with others, than he really wasn't that great. Sure it's more of a challenge to work with young free thinking guys (especially if you are the control freak he seems to be), but a great coach can.
My opinion about Martin:
1) He is unique, and he is rough around the edges.
2) He is one of the best recruiters in American collegiate sports.
3) He does require devotion and loyalty. If you don't get it that he wants to win and he expects you to be the best, then you will be at odds with him from day one.
4) He did get stabbed in the back by jealous people.
5) His style of leadership doesn't fit in Eugene, OR, but it might work just fine elsewhere.
6) He is a good distance coach.
7) He will bounce back.
|former smith runner|
If you want to peak at the right time, run fast, graduate college, learn to respect your coaches and teachers, AND have a great time, then Smith is the right coach for you.
If you are insecure, don't like an strong coach, not sure you even want to come to practice or go to class, or any combibation of the above then you'd better find another coach.
You bet he was. Trained like crazy. Once "tapered" for a marathon by running 7 miles in the morning and 12-15 at night. I'll leave PRs out because I don't know that he'd want people to know them. But you ask anyone who knew him in the mid to late 70s and they'll tell you that NO ONE pushed himself harder.
I ran slowly for dellinger and then quit after being tired of a couple years of injury.
When Martin came in I talked to the guys on the team and most of them were happy with the coaching style of Martin over Dellinger's last days. This was during his first couple years so it may have changed. I didn't hear the clip board story but I did hear some story about Martin riding a bike during the workout and telling them to pick it up yelling and riding in the rain. Dellinger definitely didn't do shit like that.
Martin = very oppinionated and driven, and very vocal. Sometimes it works, sometimes it blows up in your face.
I've known Martin since the 1970s when he coached Jimmy Hill at Oakton (VA) High School. Great guy, great coach, great friend. Too bad it didn't work out at Oregon. Martin will be back and do great things -- if he wants to.
I agree that the runners from the state of Oregon who attempted to run the sprints & hurdles were
not strong-minded. They are typical "soft" west-coast kids.
Oregon high schooler's Sam "Momma's boy" Hobbs(Hurdles)with a college PB 15.07 & PB 54.33 and Marc Benton(Sprints) were not PAC-10 talent to begin with. These athletes belong at the Western Oregon's and Willamette's of the world. These athletes belong with these sub-par coaches like Kelly "The Snake" Sullivan.
Thats why Smith sent his coaches back to the "Mid-West" to get Eric Mitchum(13.39) and Matt Scherer (45.47) from the great state of Illinois! The toughest athletes come from the great state of Illinois.................
Smith is no dumb coach, as he ran off these marginal kids from his large freshman class of 2002 which consisted of 23 athletes.
Smith's goal was to get "QUALITY". This opened up more money for better athletes such as Roderick Dotts (1:48.41) Kedar Inico (46.09) from Barton County, Kansas and AK Ikwuakor(sp?)(14.11 & 51.99) a transfer from the University of Colorado.
The "cream of the crop" is representing Oregon just fine in the sprints and hurdles. The others "non-athletes"such as Hobbs and Benton have checked out of Oregon after getting there "FREE" Oregon Track and Field T-shirt, to show their friends that they are part of the team and are NOW doing nothing...............
I had heard of a few people who had run-ins with Martin Smith so I couldn't wait to talk to one of my former athletes who walked on to the team one year.
I asked, "So, how was Martin Smith?" Thinking he would tell me that he is a tool.
He told me that he thought he was the best! He told me about a pre-meet meeting where he gave the most inspiring talk he had ever heard. I was relly taken aback to say the least.
Bullsh-t. None of Dellinger's guy that were around for the transition liked Martin's methods or personality. In fact, Dellinger was still coaching the Davis', Aubrey, and several others until they graduated - which was after Martin arrived. Martin didn't want to have anything to do with those guys and vice verse. In fact, the whole clip board thing went down partly because one of Dellinger's guys kicked one of Martin's guy's ass at the Oregon Invite 5K.
As far as the bike story, did you hear the part about Martin jumping off the bike, screaming, and kicking one of the guys off the team for not running EXACTLY how he wanted him to? No, Dellinger didn't do sh-t like that!
"Benedict" is an implied comparison to Benedict Arnold the assistant he coach who betrayed him. Benedict Arnold was a famous traitor in American History. He could have use the name, "Judas" who betrayed Jesus to the Roman guards. He used Benedict probably because he is a HUGE American History buff and because it begins with the same first letter as Benedict's real first name and coordinates well with it. Martin is a VERY SMART man.
I read this, about how amazing Martin is with distance....but where are the distance results?
I'm in Colorado, and all I get to see to judge a team is results, so where are they?
The way his team is rallying around him reminds of the University of Wyoming team. I was running Colorado when their coach, Jim Sanchez, was fired. The coach hadn't produced consistent results in the 20 something years he was there. Every 5 years he would get one runner who slipped through the cracks, but on a whole, their team was one of injury, spoiled high school talent and no results.
When Sanchez was fired and a new coach was brought in, all of a sudden there were results. Hell, one of their girls went to xc nationals and all of the guys on the team PR'd in the 10k. YET, they said it was for Sanchez. It was due to their loyalty to a coach, who had most of their team injured with no results, that most of them recovered from injury and put out improving results.
Teams can be cultish. Runners get lost in their own little worlds, eagerly supporting each other until rediculous ideas become fact and if anyone disaggrees, prepare for the mob mentality.
It will be interesting to see how Oregon handles their situation in the long run and what kind of distance results come out of it, because the fact is, college teams turn over fast and before anyone knows it, the Oregon team will consist of runners who never met Smith and are cranking out results.
How about Bowerman? Part of his legend is doing things like pressing a scalding hot ring to someone's skin. Martin bashers would definitely use something like that as ammo against M.S.