Q & A: Bill Martin on Rodriguez

Michigan athletic director Bill Martin discussed the search process that led to the hire of Rich Rodriguez hire. "Had I had to do the process over what were the lessons that I learned and that I would change? I don't think anything."

Bill Martin: “…we were able to confirm that through multiple times from where he knows the name of everybody on his team. He has family nights where training table; the coaches’ wives and families come in and join the team. He really, I think all encompasses what you would like to see in the next coach at Michigan.”

Question: What sort of questions did he have for you?

Bill Martin: “Like I said, we are not going to talk about the past in any respect. I am the monkey. You are the lion.”

Question: Did you impart upon him that you want this to be his last job too?

Bill Martin: “Oh absolutely. There is no question about that. You look at the recent history of our coaches and how long they have served and that was important to us too. When you see a coach with a young family that is a good sign. You don’t want to move a young family around a lot and that was important to us. He has no intention of going elsewhere. I would love to have him serve for the next couple of decades as our coach.”

Question: When you hired (John) Beilein, you specifically said that he was paying the buyout. Are you paying the buyout this time?

Bill Martin: “We are not going to talk about any of the contractual relation arrangement. We have not finalized the contract yet, but when it is, we will certainly make it available to you.”

Question: How comfortable are you with that large buyout though?

Bill Martin: “I am not going to comment on any aspect of the contract right now, but it will be made available to you. Of course as it always is. It is going to take a while for the lawyers to get through this. We ultimately shook hands, looked each other in the eye and said, ‘lets go’ and that is where we are.”

Question: How much of an acclimatation process will be for the coach to get into the ways of the Michigan way?

Bill Martin: “I don’t think it will hard for him. I think that there is a lot of staff that will help him in that process. I told him that I’d give him 24 hours to learn The Victors and he said, ‘no problem, I will get on it’. So don’t test him on that please. Give him a little more time than that.”

Question: How about the schematic changes? How concerned were you about that? Michigan has never seen a spread before or anything like that.

Bill Martin: “Based on my email last night, which I finally read. After the announcement, I said okay, I am going to see. The one I loved was, ‘strap on your seat, here we go’. I think it is going to be exciting. I think our fans are very excited about the brand of football that he will bring to Michigan. It is going to be exciting. As we talked about that, he talked about the hurry up offense, which he employs too, which he didn’t mention this morning. I think we are all going to be really excited to watch it. I don’t think the press in the press box are going to be going up for a cup coffee at all. They are going to make darn certain that they stay there for every single play, every minute of every game.”

Question: How much of motivation was that to get something different?

Bill Martin: “It was a factor, but not the sole factor Mark. Absolutely it was. We could have gone with a traditional offense too, but I think that that was clearly a plus, no question about it.”

Question: Have the specifics of the contract been ironed out yet?

Bill Martin: “No they have not and we are not releasing anything until we have a signed contract and the lawyers will be working on that.”

Question: No dollar amount, no year…?

Bill Martin: “No nothing at this time.”

Question: How about the buyout? I know he said that the lawyers are working on it. Do you have a different comment then that?

Bill Martin: “No that is it.”

Question: Overall happy with your decision and pleased?

Bill Martin: “Oh boy, oh am I ever. It validated taking our time in the process and not a rush to get this over. I felt that sense of urgency from many of our fans, but I was not going to be pushed into it. 28 days is not long to find a coach when you haven’t hired one from the outside in almost 40 years. I told my staff last week at a staff meeting, I said look, ‘it has been 40 years, if it takes 40 more days, I am going to stay after it and get the right individual. You know there was a list that USA Today put in their paper every day of the jobs to be filled and each day I would look at that and see another one gone, another one and last week the middle of the week there was 8 jobs open on Wednesday and on Friday there was 6 jobs open. This morning they had not filled in ours yet, but I think it is down to 4. The one thing that I kept saying to myself, I don’t want to be the last one to hire a coach particularly since I have had so much time and I have known about the change coming forth for a long time.”

Question: What is the thing that struck you about Rich Rodriguez? Why him?

Bill Martin: “I think it wasn’t just one thing. I think it was his obvious success on the football field, a genuine guy. He had some ties to Michigan through Don Nehlen and so he knew an awful lot about this program. I will tell you the winged helmet and block M was magic to him. He knew that this was a major step forward for him in his career and that really came through. So I think it was strong mutual interest.”

Question: What are you hearing from fans?

Bill Martin: “As I just said, for the first time I opened my email last night. It has all been positive. It has been exciting.”

Question: What about him being the third choice?

Bill Martin: “I am not going to talk about any of the candidates except to say that maybe he was third choice of Rita (Rodriguez). I don’t know. I am not going to comment on the past.”

Question: What did you learn from the last month?

Bill Martin: “I learned that I am not going to go through this again in my career first and foremost is what I learned. Had I had to do the process over what were the lessons that I learned and that I would change? I don’t think anything. I really don’t. Because as I said, we developed a plan and we worked that plan right to the end and we didn’t vary, we didn’t panic, we were methodical, we were thorough and we just focused on it. So I don’t think I would change anything frankly.”

Question: Rich was very adamant, more than a few times about not wanting to be a distraction either at West Virginia or Michigan. What does that say about the man and is that what you saw as far as the hiring?

Bill Martin: “Yeah absolutely. I was so excited that he called and wanted the names of all our recruits so he could call them yesterday and he worked all last night, calling every single one of them. I was pleased. So what will happen later this morning is that he and Lloyd (Carr) will sit down and they will discuss the role that they will play in this transition. I am so pleased with how Lloyd has embraced him and has said that we will sit down and we will get through this and we will do it in a mutual manner.”

Question: How much influence did Lloyd Carr have on the selection of Rodriguez?

Bill Martin: “It was my decision ultimately. Did I ask him about him once for about 5 or 6 minutes, yeah. It was positive. It was positive.”

Question: What role did Mary Sue (Coleman) play for you here?

Bill Martin: “Yeah I want to know how you knew where we were Mark Snyder, sometimes. I will have to find that out. Mary Sue is absolutely the best salesperson in the history of the University of Michigan. She was outstanding, absolutely outstanding and I really appreciate all her help. She would be here this morning, but she has other commitments and so she couldn’t make it. Just tremendous. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have her as my boss, because she gets it. She understands football. She understands Michigan athletes and she is a great colleague any time I need her help, she has been there for me in this process.”

Question: How much if any does his offensive philosophy have to do with him doing getting the job? Did you take that into account at all?

Bill Martin: “A little bit. I think particularly from a football perspective. We looked at his record and yeah there is a wow factor and an excitement factor to his style of football and it is fun. It is going to be fun. Yeah, we looked at that as a plus. If there hadn’t been a lot of other pluses, we wouldn’t have gone that direction.”

Question: You talked about working the plan, but Rich seemed to say that the talks started only a few days ago. Was that part of the plan?

Bill Martin: “Well the plan started 28 days ago for me and I am not going to get into details as to when we first contacted any of the candidates.”

Question: Will you encourage him to keep some of the current assistants to kind of make that transition?

Bill Martin: “We have left that decision entirely in his hands. Subject to my approval, but I would like to see him keep some for continuity and stability but ultimately that is the head coach’s decision and it should be and I will support him in any decision that he makes.”

Question: The perception obviously is that he was not the #1 guy. How do you sell this to the Michigan family?

Bill Martin: “I am not going to comment on how many candidates we had and there has been a lot of disinformation as to who was actually offered the job and as I said, I am not going to comment on what happened in the past.”

Question: Will you at least comment on was anyone else offered the job?

Bill Martin: “No I am not going to comment on anything. Good try, but no I am not.”

Question: Whether he was a candidate or not, Les Miles has said that he talked to you and Mary Sue in advisory role. Did you talk to Rich Rodriguez with him?

Bill Martin: “I am just not going to comment on what happened before today. Okay.”

Question: Rich Rodriguez was offered the job after the meeting on Friday? Was the offer made then?

Bill Martin: “Yes that I will offer. That is the past, but I did.”

Question: You really wouldn’t change anything about the search process?

Bill Martin: “No. No. Because you have got to go through it step by step. Is there anything you would suggest I change?”

Question: I don’t know. You obviously took a lot of heat for being out (Bill Martin, “I did?”) for being out on the boat. A lot of heat for not calling the agent back.

Bill Martin: “We will talk about that, but you really got the wrong story on that. You really did. We will talk about that when you don’t have your peers around. Okay.”

Question: What struck you by surprise by the whole search, anything?

Bill Martin: “I will tell you the passion of Michigan fans. The absolute passion. I had to put filters on my email because of the number of emails that I got on this search. So anything that said football was dumped and put into a bucket and ultimately deleted so it couldn’t be …so it is all gone.”

Question: Because he is so highly respected, do you feel vindicated, rectified, from people, me, other people who kind of criticized the way this was handled?

Bill Martin: “Listen. The media has a job to do and I respect the media and you call it the way you see it and that is your job to do that. So I don’t look back and say, ‘okay guys I got the last laugh’, no I don’t do that. I have an awful lot of respect for the media. They do a great job of covering us and I am thankful that they are there. But naw, I don’t look at it that way. Thanks for asking.”

Question: Were you worried at all that you wouldn’t get the guy you wanted, whoever that might be, whether it was Rich or somebody else?

Bill Martin: “I always had that concern. You bet. No question about it. A lot of stressful nights.”

Questions: Are there any other coaches from West Virginia that you are going to go for?

Bill Martin: “(Laughing) No comment right now.”

Question: How much do you believe the legacy of the athletic director is dependent on the football coach?

Bill Martin: “Well at Michigan it probably is a major consideration. I would much prefer my legacy and I don’t think of legacies to be people as opposed to bricks and mortars. Because it is people that make the program work. Everybody says that bricks and mortars and changes we made. I don’t look at that. I look at the people and I am very, very comfortable with Rich Rodriguez.”


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