Michigan athletic director Bill Martin affirms support for Rich Rodriguez
Ann Arbor News file photo
After the Michigan football team dropped its sixth straight Big Ten game Saturday, 45-24, to Wisconsin, outgoing athletic director Bill Martin made another public declaration of support for coach Rich Rodriguez.
Martin said he’s doing everything in his power to back Rodriguez, and said Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman remains in Rodriguez’s corner, too.
“(She’s) very supportive,” Martin said. “Michigan hasn’t experienced this in recent history, we know that. But we haven’t had a coaching chance since Bo (Schembechler), really, to a different system, in quite a long time.”
Rodriguez overhauled Michigan’s offense to install his spread system last year. The Wolverines went 3-9 and missed a bowl game for the first time in 33 years, and are on the verge of missing the postseason again this year.
Michigan (5-6, 1-6) needs a win Saturday against Ohio State to become bowl eligible. The Wolverines haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since 2003, and haven’t had back-to-back losing seasons since 1962-63.
“I was just reading last night in Sports Illustrated the article about (Paul) Johnson at Georgia Tech and what happened down there when he first came,” Martin said. “Now he’s having a wonderful year. He’s 9-1, but talked about how their quarterbacks left, the receivers left, all the skill players left that program. He’s turned it around in two years. I expect you’ll see that same situation.”
Martin grew angry when a reporter reminded him that Johnson is in his second season as Georgia Tech coach. The Yellow Jackets are 10-1 this year. In Johnson's first season at Tech, he went 9-4 and played in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
“I know it is,” Martin said. “I can count, too. So what’s your point?”
Why hasn’t it come faster?
“It hasn’t, has it?” Martin said. “Next question.”
Martin also denied his retirement announcement as athletic director last month had anything to do with two run-ins with student workers at Michigan Stadium.
Martin retired the morning of Oct. 21. The same day, a police investigator alerted Martin the police were investigating the incidents.
“It had nothing to do with it,” Martin said.
He declined further comment on the incidents as he walked abruptly to Michigan’s team bus.
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.