With USC losing its WRs coach to the NFL, a quality replacement was needed to coach what is likely the most talented wide receiver corp in the nation.
When Lane Kiffin was able to land Tee Martin, who was coaching WRs at Kentucky and was the quarterback of the 1998 Tennessee Vol National Championship team, it was a huge coup.
FightOn247 caught up with Martin after practice one day for Q&A:
SS: How did Lane Kiffin get you to come here to coach at USC?
TM They say he's the best recruiter out there, and that's what he did with me. I didn't know much about SC as a whole, I just knew about the football tradition, I knew about what they did on the field, but I didn't know much about the university and the role it plays in the city of L.A. And he did a great job of making me feel comfortable moving my family out West. It was an easy decision to take advantage of an opportunity to coach under Coach Kiffin, knowing what he does on offense, what USC accomplished last season and the success he's had offensively.
The job was open, I came out here, interviewed in front of the entire staff and we just clicked. I felt very comfortable going back home and explaining to my wife why I wanted to take this job. It just felt right. Once My wife came out and saw it for herself, it was a done deal. I'm excited to be a part of this program and looking forward to working with the team.
SS What are your thoughts about the talented wide receivers you are coaching here at USC?
TM I'm excited about the opportunity to make them better. And we're going to work hard, do things the right way, we're going to compete every day and work to be the best. There's only one way, and that is to work to be the best. I think Coach (Ted) Gilmore did a great job of getting these guys to play well so young as true freshman, freshman, sophomore and with Matt Barkley coming back for his senior season, we have an opportunity to do some special things. So, my job as the receivers coach is to make sure we all gel, continue the great chemistry with our quarterback and work to be the best we can be everyday in practice.
SS When word got out you were hired by USC the wide receivers and other players (like Barkley) were very excited that you would be coaching them. The reaction when you got to USC had to be pretty welcoming?
TM It was very welcoming and especially with Matt Barkley. I had met him when I was coaching the Elite 11 Camp on campus here when he was in high school. And he was a no-brainer and one of the top players in the country at that time. Now turn the clock forward, and I'm actually on the team coaching with him. So, I'm really excited about the guys and they are one of the most cohesive group I have ever been around. And when you have a team that's on the same page with the staff, no egos involved and everybody is after one goal, you can do some special things. I've only been here a short time, but hearing the way everyone talks, seeing how everyone works on the field, we can have something special here. I've been around some winning teams and that's the common thing you see....people being cohesive and after the same goal. I see that here and I'm excited to be a part of that.
SS I don't mean to put you on the spot, but what is one of the biggest misconceptions about Coach Kiffin?
TM First off, I think he's a great guy (so do I btw) and for me to pick up my family, who I love dearly and we had a great situation at the University of Kentucky and love those people, and to move them out West obviously shows I felt extremely comfortable with Coach Kiffin. And I'll be working closely with him being a former receivers coach and a quarterback in college. For me to feel comfortable enough to say to my family, 'Let's go move out West,' says a lot how I feel about Coach Kiffin. I didn't know what to expect. We had spoken a couple of times in the past, but weren't close friends. But we asked some tough questions, we ironed some things out and at the end of the day, we felt comfortable enough to come to USC. And I am excited I did.
SS Do you think being a part of Lane Kiffin's staff and around a lot of other great coaches, is going to help you get to the next level where you want to be?
SS I'm just thinking about being the best receivers coach I can be for here right now. I have day-to-day goals, short-term goals and I feel if you work hard, you'll end up where you're supposed to be. I couldn't have told you four years ago I would be coaching wide receivers at USC right now. So, I'll continue to stay faithful to what I believe in, work hard everyday and that's all I can control.
SS How does being a quarterback make you a good receivers coach?
TM In West-Coast systems, and the West-Coast system is similar to what we do here, the quarterbacks and receivers spend a lot of time together.And me being a former quarterback, you communicate with those guys all the time. Whether it's breakin' hot, or how I exactly want a certain route to be run and that's when you get that communication. I understand what the quarterback sees from a protection standpoint and from a coverage standpoint. I also know if the guys are doing a bunch of dancing around and getting their tails knocked off, we don't have time for that. We need our wide receivers to get open fast, we need those guys to trust us and understand what he's seeing. I also have experience working with the wide receivers at New Mexico and Kentucky. And now I have this incredible opportunity to coach under Coach Kiffin who is a former wide receivers coach and now head coach. So it's a great fit for me.