Q & A: Bill Martin on "the Search"

After Lloyd Carr announced his retirement yesterday, Michigan athletic director fielded questions about the impending search for Carr's replacement. Martin indicated that he currently has twenty candidates in mind and laid out much of the criteria he will use to evaluate their viability. Check inside for the transcript.

For video of this Q & A, click here.

Question: On the makeup of the committee.

Bill Martin: “… I may not put that in writing. I may not announce that. That committee will have season former players on it. It will have people that are very experienced in the world of collegiate football and I will be guided by a lot of their judgments. But ultimately the decision rests with me. Everybody asks, ‘will you ask Lloyd?’ Of course I will ask Lloyd what his thoughts are. He knows the coaching profession. He knows everyone that is active that would be considered a candidate. So I want to have the benefit of his experience and knowledge and prospective on everyone.”

Question: There is a chance one of the candidates, Les Miles might be in the National Championship game. The fact he might be coaching that long is that going to be a problem?

Bill Martin: “I don’t want to comment on any particular coach. Les is a great coach. He has got a wonderful season going for him and I certainly wish him all the best.”

Question: Bill do you appreciate the gravity of your task right now? This will probably define your career as AD.

Bill Martin: “Well, I have known about this for quite some time. I have been working on it. It is a very, very important task. Every time that you have to replace a coach of this stature, you have to drop everything and focus on it and that is what I will be doing. It is very important and I realize that.”

Question: Is head coaching experience and ties to Michigan necessary?

Bill Martin: “I don’t think ties to Michigan are important at all. As long as a candidate buys into the values of Michigan. Head coaching experience, I certainly prefer that. I wouldn’t rule out somebody who has been a seasoned coordinator at all. I would prefer a head coach.”

Question: How about NFL candidates, because obviously there will be some in theory and yet it is such a different game with recruiting and everything else. Are they in the pool too would you say?

Bill Martin: “I would say they are, but given this world of the NCAA compliance issues, recruiting issues… you would have to make certain if a coach you brought in from the NFL that the entire coaching team had the necessary background and experience to deal with recruiting, to deal with the NCAA, to deal with compliance issues.”

Question: The top coaches in the country are making up to 2.5 to 3 million dollars. Is Michigan willing to pay that?

Bill Martin: “Well that is a very good question and I haven’t really faced that yet. There is no question that we at Michigan have not paid those top salaries. We all know that, regardless of what the position is. That would be a culture change for us. I am not opposed to it though. I think that it is important that this program continue what is the benchmark that I will talk to coaches about. We win roughly 3/4 of our games. I mean that is the benchmark that I will be looking for.”

Question: Are you concerned that the values that UM places on football might be contradiction for what college football is pretty much now in the 21st century?

Bill Martin: “I think that this is a really insight comment. I think you are right. But that is who we are and that is what we want. We will be consistent with our values not with the changing game of football.”

Question: Going back to the money, once you have committed to putting all this money into the stadium renovation, isn’t it almost relative pocket change a coach 500k or a million more than you ever have? When you have already made a commitment to 250 million or whatever it is, what is a couple more million here or there?

Bill Martin: “You are talking about capital budget versus operating budget. You change the salary structure of one coach, it has rippling effects among all 24 of your other sport coaches and also in the compensation that you pay. We try to pay our coaches in the top three within the Big Ten. That is kind of our benchmark standard. We will deviate and look at where we are on the national basis and we have done that recently with some coaches; we have put them in the top three nationally. Lloyd said to me when I asked him about the job, he sees it as the best job in the country today, not only because it is Michigan, because of the renovations we are doing to the Big House and also because we broke ground last Friday morning. We turned dirt for our new 28 million dollar indoor-practice facility. We will have the finest facilities in the country and we will have them at Michigan. We also have patience. We have seen that in coaches that we have hired. We will have patience to work with the coaches as they transition. I have been so pleased that Lloyd announced at the time that he did so that we can keep our football staff together. We can continue on the recruiting trail and we can move forward with the search knowing that we are not going to lose that class 4 years from now as we discussed.”

Question: On the importance of the task ahead.

Bill Martin: “…I have to focus at this as my primary responsibility from this moment going forward. Obviously, I couldn’t say anything until today. So all you can do is background work and that is all background work that I had to do on my own. I didn’t embrace anybody else to do it for me, but I will at this point.”

Question: When you visited him, was that after the Appalachian State game that the moment that he referred to, either that or Oregon?

Bill Martin: “You know, after every loss Sunday morning, I go in and see Lloyd. I never go in and see him after a win. He is in the office during the football season every Sunday morning by 8 o’clock sitting at his desk reviewing the game tape. I can tell you by moment where Lloyd Carr will be on Sunday. So I always go in and support him after a loss. We happen to go to the same church and so you never see him there during football season on a Sundays, but I would go in usually right after church and I did that, I think both after App State and Oregon game. I can’t remember which game.”

Question: But it was after one of those that he said this was it?

Bill Martin: “He never said that this is it. We have talked about this for several years as you can image. I just knew what I would say is, ‘Lloyd, I want you here as long as you want to be here’.”

Question: I know you are not giving us names, but have you heard from representatives of certain candidates?

Bill Martin: “No I have not heard from anybody. In fact, other than the press and a lot of emails that I get, but nobody has contacted us. Do I expect they will? That has been the pattern in basketball, so I expect it will happen here.”

Question: How many guys will you look at? Do you have a number?

Bill Martin: “You know we’ve probably got a list of 20… all in my mind, not playable, okay.”

Question: How do you look at buyouts in this situation? You made a point of saying that you didn’t pay John Beilein’s buyout. Would you take the same approach with the football coach should he?

Bill Martin: “I am not sure and that is a very good question. I thought John Beilein was an absolutely straight up honest guy and I hope those of you who have dealt with him can see that in him. The first day I met him, the first moment, he said Bill the buyout is my responsibility, so that is a nice tradition to have and I would hope our next head coach would follow that tradition. I don’t know John. It is a fair question though.”

Question: What are you allowed to do right now and what aren’t you allowed to do?

Bill Martin: “There is the ethical issue of contacting coaches that have games to play and I respect that process. There is no rule in the NCAA that prohibits you from contacting anybody. There is always a gentleman’s agreement among athlete directors across the country that you don’t contact the coach without first contacting their athletic director. I would say that is followed maybe half the time. The other half the time it isn’t.”

Question: What half of the group will you fall in?

Bill Martin: “I will always take the high road.”

Question: Do you have a time table in mind?

Bill Martin: “You know I want to get it done as soon as we can. There is no question about it, whatever it takes. We are going to have a coach for a long time, taking a few extra weeks does not hurt us and Lloyd will be running this program until the day a new coach comes in. I have that commitment out of him and all of our coaching staff will be here too. So it is going to be business as usual notwithstanding his announcement today until a new coach comes in and that is very important to me, that we do not lose a beat.”

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