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2016 USC Trojans Football: Tee Martin succeeded where Peyton Manning did not

USC Trojans offensive coordinator Tee Martin knows what it takes to win a national championship.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The words coaching and pressure are synonymous with each other. Just ask first-year Trojan offensive coordinator Tee Martin. Serving as the wide receivers coach for the program from 2012-13, and doubling his duties as the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach from 2014-15, Martin is a coaching veteran. With a new head coach at the helm and a new-look offense, Martin has his work cut out for him. If history is any indication, facing uphill climbs are when he is at his best.

He had the tall task of replacing and following a quarterback you may have heard of by the name of Peyton Manning. Manning, a future Hall of Famer has a campus street named after him in which the speed limit is 16 mph, his number. How do you follow that up?

Martin made sure that he was locked in from the get-go, realizing the task at hand as the proverbial torch was passed to him, with a chance to end up in Tennessee Volunteer football lore.

"I had tunnel vision," Martin the LA Daily News. "I told the coaches I didn't want a roommate. I moved out of my apartment that summer, to the dorms, because I wanted to be able to walk across the street and watch film."

"I lived in the football office. I prepared every day like the next day was Game Day. I had a job at the Boys Club, but if I wasn't doing that and I wasn't in class, I was getting ready."

The football-first mentality paid off in a big way. The 1998 season was one of the best in program history as the Volunteers went undefeated and won the SEC. They also played in their very first BCS National Championship Game, which they won 23-16 behind two touchdowns from Martin.

Martin was just one part of the powerhouse Volunteer offense, and as spring practice begins with the former Tennessee legend leading the reigns, he sees parallels between this year's Trojans and that memorable '98 squad.

"We had Price, Jamal Lewis, Travis Henry a lot of talent," Martin said. "And you can see the same thing here. We've got every receiver coming back. We're going to be very experienced, all around the quarterback position."

Even though Martin knew he would play second-fiddle to Manning when he arrived in Knoxville, ready for a challenge, he embraced it. "I knew he was there. And I went there because of that."

Now he will be there helping a Trojan signal-caller follow the footsteps of Cody Kessler a situation that he is very familiar with.

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