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Steven M. Sipple: Martinez's remarkable grace and three other takeaways on his departure

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Steven M. Sipple, Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett talk through the ever-evolving coaching searches that Nebraska football and head coach Scott Frost are currently conducting in this episode.

Nebraska football fans have finality as it applies to Adrian Martinez. 

He's entered the transfer portal, meaning he intends to continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere. 

Four quick takeaways from Thursday's news:

1. It's easy to extend Martinez grace because he shows so much grace. 

We all know Martinez wasn't the perfect quarterback. He endured periods of obvious struggle. He often came up short in clutch moments. He was benched in 2020. Many Husker fans wanted to move on from him as starter at various points dating to the 2019 season. 

His final record at Nebraska is 14-24. 

Being a quarterback in a high-profile collegiate program, and especially in a developing program, can be a wickedly onerous gig, particularly in this age of social media. 

Martinez handled the intensity of the job and the criticism and the scrutiny with remarkable poise and maturity at every turn.  

He took his turn at the podium after games and never made excuses and always resisted making the conversation about him, even in good times. 

Nebraska is the sort of place that can chew up coaches and players. It can be absolutely vicious. All the losing in recent years has created what's sometimes a tense and negative environment. 

Martinez, by contrast, was forever calm and positive.

He's as classy a player as I've ever been around, in any sport. 

Yeah, it was very easy to extend him grace even when he struggled.

2. There's another reason it was easy to extend him grace: His coach, Scott Frost, didn't do a great job of putting high-level players around Martinez. 

I've always wondered how Martinez would perform in an offense that had, say, Hassan Haskins at running back with an offensive line that consistently changed the line of scrimmage. 

I've always wondered how Martinez would perform if he had an All-America receiver or running back at his disposal. 

Martinez, during the past three seasons, often didn't have enough potent weapons around him. That meant he had to carry an incredibly heavy load. You wonder if that played a role in his body breaking down.  

Sure, he had running back Devine Ozigbo and wideout Stanley Morgan in 2018. Those guys are in the NFL. Well, think about how well Martinez played in 2018 when he had those players with him. 

Give Frost credit for raising the level of skill players around Martinez this season. In particular, Samori Toure, the transfer wideout from Montana, and Austin Allen, the tight end from Aurora, helped matters greatly. 

On the other hand, Nebraska's offensive line struggles this season were such that Martinez was under almost constant duress in the pocket, and the Huskers don't exactly have Ameer Abdullah at running back anymore. 

Again, Martinez never complains. So, I do it for him. 

3. What's next for Martinez?  

Well, it's complicated.

He recently underwent right shoulder surgery (his throwing arm). I've been told he may not be able to practice until the summer months. Perhaps May or even June. That's problematic because he may be hard-pressed to win a starting job in a new offense without the benefit of spring practice.  

Thing is, he has one season of eligibility left to play at the college level and also has a redshirt season at his disposal as he sets out to find another school. 

In other words, he could redshirt in 2022 and perhaps play in four games to gain comfort in a new system, then be full-go for 2023. 

Tell me you're not intrigued by the visual of Martinez starting over in another offense. 

I know at least one Big 12 school that's interested. Bottom line, he won't have trouble finding suitors. 

Truth be told, it might have seemed strange if not slightly awkward for Martinez to remain in Nebraska's program another couple of seasons. Six years? That's an eternity in today's transient collegiate sports landscape. I don't necessarily want to watch the kid grow old before my eyes. 

There's also this: If Martinez had remained at NU, it might have adversely affected the staff's ability to attract a quarterback from the portal, assuming it went that direction at all. 

Maybe this is a clean break that needed to happen. 

4. Martinez has his degree. Don't forget that part. 

It took him only 3½ years to finish his bachelor’s degree in business management. He began work on his MBA this past summer.

He told me last spring he's keeping his options open in terms of future employment (read: after football).

“I think that’s why I originally got into business, because it’s so broad,” he said. “It can offer me a lot of opportunities. I’ve always thought about being an entrepreneur and starting my own business. But I also want to be a CEO. I want to be a leader in whatever industry I end up in. That’s really the thing that matters the most to me. Once I find that thing, I’m just going to drive and drive and get to the top.”

If you’ve ever watched Martinez at a podium taking questions from Nebraska’s large media contingent, it’s easy to imagine him leading meetings in a board room. Notice how he looks reporters in the eye and gives thoughtful answers. But also notice how he avoids letting reporters steer him in directions that don’t necessarily apply.

He does it with an unmistakable sense of calm and class. 

That's perhaps what I'll remember most.

Contact the writer at or 402-473-7440. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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