Bridgewater College, 1974
Martin Smith was hired as the University of Oklahoma's sixth head track and field coach in June 2005 with the expectation that good things would happen. And great things did.
Smith's first season, in 2006, saw exceptional development as the women's team tied for fourth overall at the Big 12 Indoor Championships and the men's team finish fifth outdoors, both program best finishes at the time.
It was 2007, however, that came as a surprise to the track and field world as all six men's and women's cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field teams improved on their past year's finishes.
The men's team shocked the conference when it won its first Big 12 Outdoor Championship title, the team's first conference championship since 1978. It was Smith's 25th conference championship as a head or assistant coach in 27 years on the Division I level.
The team didn't rest on its laurels, winning its first Midwest Region title two weeks later.
Accolades swarmed to Smith, who was named Big 12 Men's Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year and the Midwest District and Region Men's Head Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
In all, 16 Sooners combined for 22 NCAA All-America honors during the year - the most Smith has coached in a single season, upping his career total to 205.
Jessica Eldridge became only the sixth Sooner woman to earn All-America honors in cross country and the first since 1994, when she finished 18th at the NCAA Championships in the fall of 2006. Eldridge also posted the best ever finish by a Sooner at the Big 12 Championships when she ran fourth.
Oklahoma took a program record 22 athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The 14 Sooner men who competed represented the largest number from a single men's team in 2007.
The postseason proved to be successful, too, as Kevin Snyder won the U.S. Junior National high jump crown and earned a silver medal at the Junior Pan American Games and sprinter Jacobi Mitchell qualified for both the Pan American Games and World Athletics Championships.
In the two years under Smith's guidance, seven of the program's individual event or relay records have been broken, 24 NCAA All-American honors have been won and 12 Big 12 titles have been won in individual or relay events.
Smith, who has coached five national championship teams during a 27-year tenure on the NCAA Division I level, became the University of Oklahoma's sixth head track and field coach in June 2005.
Smith, 56, has been head cross country coach or head cross country and track and field coach at George Mason, Virginia, Wisconsin and Oregon, where he was director of men's and women's track and field and cross country from 2003 through March 2005. He was men's track & field and cross country head coach at UO from 1998-2003 before assuming control of all track and field/cross country programs.
"This is a very exciting day for our track & field and cross country programs," OU Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione said upon his hiring. "Martin Smith has earned the respect and admiration of many throughout the national and international track and field communities. He has an impressive record of achievement everywhere he has been. His student-athletes excel both on and off the track and understand that the championship mentality can apply to all of their life's pursuits.
"His professional and personal references led us to the conclusion that he is the person who can best represent the values of our program and can build a program of national stature. We look forward to having him join our Sooner family."
Smith guided Oregon to nine NCAA top 20 team finishes, while mentoring individuals who claimed 48 All-America honors and 17 Pac-10 titles.
In his final season, the 2004-05 indoor campaign, Smith led the Duck men to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA meet, tops among the Pac-10 schools. UO sent nine qualifiers to the NCAA National Championships with eight earning All-America honors.
Oregon realized outdoor success under Smith, too. The men's team was second, first and second in his last three Pac-10 meets and was ninth at the 2004 NCAAs.
Other strong finishes with the Ducks included a 13th place finish at nationals in the 2003 NCAA Outdoor and a 2003 men's Pac-10 Outdoor title (the first for UO since 1993). In the fall of that school year, the Oregon cross country team was fifth at nationals.
The 2002 indoor men's team was ninth at the NCAA Championships and Smith earned conference and region coach of the year honors. In 2001, Smith led Oregon's men to a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoors.
Prior to his move to Oregon, Smith spent 1983-98 coaching the men's cross country team at Wisconsin, while serving as assistant men's track and field coach.
He coached two men's national championship cross country teams there (1985, 1988), and his teams won 12 Big Ten titles. Thirty-three of his runners were All-Americans and one was the national champion.
On the track, Smith helped UW to 10 NCAA top 20 finishes and nine Big Ten titles. He coached 49 NCAA All-Americans and 32 individual Big Ten champions.
Smith was head men's and women's cross country coach at Virginia from 1980-83. There he coached the women's cross country team to national championships in 1981 and 1982. His first job in the college ranks came in 1979 when he served as men's cross country coach and assistant men's track and field coach at George Mason.
A native of Alexandria, Va., Smith attended Bridgewater College and graduated in 1974 with degrees in history and political science. He was married to Renee Schwister on Feb. 12, 1999, and Renee has one son, Ross.