Hey, Husker fans: Don't hate on Adrian Martinez for being right
Former Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez created a stir in the Cornhusker State last week as he described his reasoning for transferring to Kansas State this offseason.
“I haven’t been to a bowl game and I haven’t had a winning season,” Martinez said in an interview on Big 12 Radio on SiriusXM. “Now football is a team sport, but I play quarterback and often times you get associated with those kinds of things and I want to win.
“I want to go play in a bowl game and I want to win a bowl game. So that was another reason why I came here. I feel like we have a great opportunity to win.”
Predictably, this has opened the door to plenty of sour-grapes critique from Nebraska’s fanbase.
I think it’s outrageous that Adrian Martinez left for KState because he “wants to win” when just about every one possession very winnable game that Nebraska has lost in the last 3 years was his fault in the first place.
— Michael Aaron (@MAaron38) June 12, 2022
Adrian Martinez talks about wanting to go to a bowl and how he didn’t get to with Nebraska but I do recall a few games Michigan and Michigan State where he turned the ball over and we lost those games so there’s that
— Edwin (@Edwin18580330) June 9, 2022
Adrian Martinez is perhaps the worst quarterback to ever play at the university of Nebraska. K State fans are going to be wanting to bench this guy by week 6.
— sass (@sass_a_fras1) June 8, 2022
All Adrian Martinez has done since he’s left Nebraska is cry about it. You broke up with us, my guy.
— Caleb Salvatore (@calebisntfunny) June 9, 2022
If I have learned anything the last 24 hours, it’s that people still really, *really* care about Adrian Martinez. One of the first times I can remember a player leaving and still being this divisive, this far removed from his time in Lincoln. Usually reserved for former HCs.
— Josh Peterson (@joshtweeterson) June 9, 2022
Galling and inconceivable as it may be to any Husker fan over the age of 50, there’s no debate that Kansas State’s program is in a better place that Nebraska’s right now.
Chris Klieman has reached bowl games in 2 of his 3 seasons with the Wildcats, with the only miss being the fluky, COVID-riddled 2020 season. He’s also beaten Oklahoma twice in 3 tries.
Scott Frost is 0-for-4 in reaching bowls, and lost his lone game against the Sooners. Either 1 or both of those things must change this season if he’s going to be back in 2023.
The harsh reality is that Martinez could have transferred to any Big 12 program but Kansas and truthfully state that he has a better chance of reaching a bowl game. Every team in that conference has reached a bowl within the past 2 seasons save for the Jayhawks.
But this isn’t really about K-State, per se. Martinez’s comments and the reaction to them made 1 thing crystal clear. Both he and the Huskers are going to be in much better places without each other in their lives.
A relationship that had to end
When Trev Alberts decided to bet on another season of Frost and potentially save Nebraska a boatload of buyout money, the die was cast. A trapdoor opened underneath Martinez, destination Anywhere But Lincoln.
There was no point in renewing The Undynamic Duo for another season. Something in that relationship was not connecting.
Martinez turned the ball over more in Year 4 than he had as a freshman. His completion percentage dropped 10 points from 2020 to 2021. As a runner, his yards per carry dipped from 5.7 to 3.9.
Martinez’s talent remains an unlocked riddle, and Frost does not have the key. Klieman might not either. But for Martinez, it’s worth taking a chance with the coach who has put Carson Wentz and Trey Lance into the NFL.
It’s not as if Martinez isn’t aware that his game has plenty of holes.
“I feel like we have a great opportunity to win. And that’s something if I do and I play the right way, I know we’re gonna have an opportunity to do,” he said in the same radio interview. “Part of that’s not turning over the ball as much. Part of that is being accurate all the time, making the right decisions.”
More importantly from a Nebraska perspective, Martinez isn’t the only person with a chance to prove himself this season. The same is true of Frost.
Casey Thompson is the right fit for Nebraska
Success does not have to be an either/or proposition in this situation.
Imagine, if you will, a world in which both Adrian Martinez and Nebraska enter the final week of the regular season with a chance to reach their respective conference championship games.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call it likely. But given how convoluted the Big 12 and Big Ten West will be this season, that scenario is far from impossible.
Texas transfer Casey Thompson should give the Huskers playmaking without Martinez’s penchant for mistakes. He brings a career ratio of 30 touchdowns against 9 interceptions compared to Martinez’s 45 TDs with 30 INTs.
Thompson’s not as dangerous on the run, averaging 2.9 yards per carry to Martinez’s 4.5. But he’s simply the better passer, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt to Martinez’s 8, and carrying a 161.8 passer rating compared to 139.5 for Martinez.
And then there’s the matter of attitude.
Thompson comes to Lincoln with a clean slate. He will not face the internal pressure of 4 years worth of scar tissue. Oftentimes, Martinez’s mistakes seemed to grow out of his desire to make up for those that came before it. A clean break from Nebraska is the only way he’s going to wipe that slate clean.
And in their defense, most Husker fans seem pretty understanding of that.
Adrian Martinez has owned up to his faults more than his Head Coach, QB coach, and 3 OCs
And he has never thrown anybody under the bus
He's jumped in front of it many times over the years
For that, he can speak freely
— Bryan Wilson (@FrshYelGrizzly) June 8, 2022
I don't evaluate Adrian Martinez by his most recent quote. He gave everything he had when he was at Nebraska and in the end felt he needed a fresh start. I have always been impressed by his character.
— Terry Pettit (@TerryPettit1) June 10, 2022
I’m not going to sweat Adrian Martinez’s comments. The guy gave his heart and soul at Nebraska, and I’m sure he was as disappointed as anyone when it didn’t work out. There’s nothing to be gained by Husker fans clapping back. The best response is for the team to go out and win. pic.twitter.com/Db6ACAIAW5
— Bud Marr (@BudMarrNU) June 11, 2022
In recent comments to K-State media, Adrian Martinez has said he "has more talent around him at KSU than Nebraska" and he transferred to KSU so he could "play in a bowl game."
How do those comments land with you? #Huskers
— John M. Bishop (@JohnBishop71) June 9, 2022
For those who remain perturbed by what Martinez said, there’s no reason to be. It’s true — he’s got a better chance of winning at Kansas State than he did at Nebraska.
Deal with it.
The Huskers, in turn, have a better chance of winning with Thompson than they did with Martinez. And given the past 5 seasons in Lincoln, that is the thing to be focused on.