New Mexico State hadn’t gone to a bowl game in 57 years.
It was the longest bowl drought in all of college football. Eastern Michigan went to its first bowl game in 29 years last season.
New Mexico State hadn’t gone to the postseason since the 1960 Aggies team went undefeated and won the Sun Bowl.
Former ECU offensive coordinator Doug Martin was the architect of one of the best stories of this bowl season. After 57 long years, Martin and the Aggies won a bowl game.
Larry Rose III ran 21 yards for a touchdown in overtime to win it for New Mexico State, 26-20, over Utah State in the Arizona Bowl.
“That was as fitting as it could get,” said Martin on my weekly radio show on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930. “He was the guy that bought into our plan and he deserved that moment.”
Martin spent 11 seasons in Greenville at East Carolina University. He was the Pirates’ tight ends and special teams coach during his first two years. He spent his next two years as ECU’s wide receivers coach before taking over as offensive coordinator.
He was a part of five bowl teams with the Pirates and a key factor of some of the best years in ECU football history.
“We have great memories of East Carolina University,” said Martin. “In fact, we based our planning here at New Mexico State on what we did at ECU under Steve Logan. The offense we run is the same thing that Coach Logan was running all those years ago.”
Martin has a vision for New Mexico State. He says this past year’s success was a start, but there is still plenty of work that has to be done for the Aggies to sustain their success.
New Mexico State has just eight assistant coaching slots, instead of the allowed ten. The school has had attendance problems and scholarship woes. Martin says all of this has to improve in order to make New Mexico State a winner.
Credit the Aggies’ administration for being patient. Martin is just 17-44 in four years in Las Cruces. He knew frustrations were mounting, but he also had a plan all along.
“All we had to sell when we got here was a vision,” Martin explained. “We had a mess to clean up, but we had players that bought in and helped us turn this thing around. It hasn’t been easy.”
Martin still keeps up with ECU. He said he knows the Pirates have been through a couple of tough seasons, but he also knows that ECU football will return to glory.
“Pirate football certainly won’t stay down,” he said. “The fan base won’t allow it. Football is very important to Greenville and Eastern North Carolina.”
Pirate football was also very important to Doug Martin, and his 11 seasons in Greenville helped pave the way for his success at New Mexico State.