“I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. This is my dream; this is my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor, and surviving.” That famed Colonel Kurtz quote from Apocalypse Now might be the best way to explain this nine-minute press conference from Miami University (Ohio) RedHawks football coach Chuck Martin after his team’s 30-28 home win over the Ohio Bobcats Wednesday in the Battle of the Bricks rivalry game.
Unlike many notable press conference rants, Martin never tips over into full yelling here, but he sure seems to be crawling along that razor’s edge, and he manages to take what seem like pretty significant bridge-burning shots at both his school and his team’s fans. Here’s the press conference (the part with Martin goes from the start to around 9:15):
As mentioned, there’s a lot of this that’s relatively subdued and normal, but there are also plenty of parts where Martin takes some major shots at his school and its fans, and where he seems on the edge of really melting down. Some transcriptions with timestamps:
0:00: “Obviously, crazy excited about the win, really excited for my seniors, they came here a long time ago and I say it’s volunteering to be like the guy in Shawshank (Andy Dufresne in 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption), to come here five years ago, ‘Okay, here’s your assignment; you’re going to crawl through human feces for the next three miles. That’s what you’ve got to do.’ And they all came, and they battled, they’ve been unbelievable players here, unbelievable leaders.”
1:28: “When you’re playing a good team like OU, they’re fighting, they’re not going to give up. It’s not like at halftime…I’m sure there are some idiot fans and media who thought the game was over, but we certainly didn’t.”
4:20: “If you execute and you make more plays, you win. It’s not luck, it’s not anything. You keep fighting, you keep battling. Sometimes you don’t make plays because you don’t execute, sometimes you don’t make plays, last week…their guy was better! He was better! Our guy was battling his tail off, he was on him, we couldn’t stop him. We tried everything.”
4:58: “You know, the last play [a failed OU Hail Mary], it’s not bad luck, it’s because you don’t execute. We kept talking about executing, and you come down, and there’s a ton of panic because you can hear our fans stinking, our home fans yelling at us as the game’s unraveling. I mean, welcome to Miami! Welcome to Miami! Our home fans are yelling at our players and coaches as the game’s unraveling. That’s helpful! And they can hear it, right, the kids can hear it. Because they’re panicked that we’re going to lose. Okay, well, you’ve got to block it out. Welcome to life. You keep fighting, you keep digging, or you panic, and if you panic, bad things happen.”
5:50: “And, you know, I get fans. We’ve come a long way, and it’s hard. Miami football’s been down for a while. But that makes it better. And the defense, I kept saying ‘We signed up for this shit. We’re not very good right now. But we’re going to make a play to win the game. Somebody’s going to make a play to win the game. That’s what it’s ABOUT! When nobody believes, somebody, and if you don’t, you don’t win, and you keep being the team that’s…our kids stuck in there and fought their tails off and I’m very proud of them.”
6:17: A reporter asks “How much of a relief is it for this program to finally beat OU?” (Ohio had won the last five Battle of the Bricks games, including a 45-28 win last year and a 34-3 win, the largest margin in series history, in 2015.) Martin responds “Great, it’s a huge relief. Huge. Beat them, win the Battle of the Bricks…is there a trophy or anything? I was waiting for the trophy to come storming out, there’s no trophy for the thing? We talk about this rivalry, I just assumed there was a trophy! We hadn’t won, in, you know, 50 years! How can it be such a rivalry if there’s no damn trophy! I’ll pitch in, I think! It’s a pretty big deal! I’m like ‘Where’s the dang trophy?’ I guess it’s not that big of a deal if no one can afford a trophy for the rivalry. It just shows how cheap the schools are in this league.” The reporter follows up with “So it is a relief?” and Martin goes “It’s ridiculous. So huge relief, yes.”
The trophy part of that is the funniest, and yes, it is somewhat weird that no one has made a trophy for an in-state rivalry game played 95 times. It has a Wikipedia page and a logo, though, so that will have to do. But yeah, this is a remarkable rant from a winning coach, and one that throws a whole lot of shade at his program’s fans and his athletic department. The RedHawks have improved since Martin got there in 2014, going 2-10 in his first season (a step up from the 0-12 mark the previous year), then 3-9, 6-7 (with their first bowl appearance since 2010), 5-7 and now 4-6 so far this year, but he seems to be not all that thrilled with the support (or lack thereof) he’s getting from fans and the administration, and they may not be all that thrilled that he hasn’t yet produced a consistently-winning team.
We’ll see what comes of this, but yeah, this definitely feels like a bridge-burning rant to remember. Even if it never quite tips over into a full explosion.