Bill Martin Legacy

Submitted by ppudge on January 2nd, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Well I'm not sure if this should be a diary or a forum, but since I want to know what others think, I figured it was best as a forum topic. Since we just flipped the calendar to a new year - one which will see the end of Bill Martin's reign as athletic director - I'm wondering what other Michigan fans think will be his legacy. When going over the pros and cons list in my head, I came up with the following:

*Hired Rich Maloney (and has kept him) as the UM Baseball Coach
*Instrumental in getting approval for the new basketball practice facility
*Oversaw the renovation of Michigan Stadium to add suites/luxury boxes (some may view this as a con, though)
*Built the largest indoor practice facility for football in the Western Hemisphere

*The Tommy Amaker hiring which ended up being a very underachieving period in M basketball for the type of recruits Amaker ended up getting
*The WJR fiasco. How could business-man BIll have been so blindsided by this? Now I don't know what station to find basketball games at on the radio, as it seems to switch with each game.
*The football coach search. The jury is still out on the hire, but I think most people agree that Bill could have handled the search a bit better.

Jury Still Out:
*John Beilein hired as basketball coach. I personally think this was a very good move, but based on the results so far we can't call it a complete pro. Yes, we made the tourney last year after an 11 year absence, but we can't forget that his first season was a disaster and this season is turning out as such. Plus, even though we made the tourney last year, we were only the 6th or 7th best team in the Big 10, not exactly where we want to be. I think we'll be fine in the long run, but not there yet, so the jury is still out.
*Rich Rodriguez. Clearly this could be in the "con" category after the 2 years we've had, but I think he'll get it turned around and have us competing for Big 10 titles (and hopefully national titles as well) soon. But, hasn't happened yet, so clearly the jury is still out.

*Status Quo:
*Our Olympic sports. Yes, volleyball has improved, but we have always been strong in most of the Olympic sports, prior to Bill. Swimming, gymnastics, etc. have all been maintained with him. I think he had to hire a new swimming coach, but I'm not sure about some of the other sports. Field hockey was good, but then our coach left and it stumbled - although Bill hired her back. He made a pretty good hire with the soccer team I think (didn't the guy coach the US women's team)? Women's basketball seems to be improving, but I don't really know.
*Hockey. Thank God he hasn't touched Red and has been able to keep him coaching. As long as Red wants to coach, we let him, as far as I'm concerned. The obvious hire if Red steps down after this year is Mel Pearson, his longtime assistant, but I really like the idea of former players coming on board. Depending on when Red steps down, I hope Mel gets the job and hires someone like Bill Muckalt or Brendan Morrison as an assistant and eventual successor. But that's off-topic as it will be a decision left to the new AD.
*Softball. We won a national title in 2005, but that was with Carol Hutchins at the helm who has been around long before Bill. Much like Red, as long as she wants to stay the coach, it's her decision as far as I'm concerned.

I'm trying to think of other vital things that occurred during his tenure, but am blanking. Bill has the Athletic Dept. running on its own, which is great, but really, I think his tenure is proof that we need a guy with a sports background, moreso than business, to run things. Sure the athletic department is profitable, but are the on-field and in-classroom results stronger now than before Bill came in? Considering the hockey team might not make the tournament for the first time in 20 years, and the football and basketball teams may both end up in the basement of the Big 10 standings during Bill's final full academic season, it's hard to argue that they are. Overall, I would grade him out as average to below average for his work as AD - but obviously the jury is still out on the 2 most important hires in his tenure, so his full grade probably can't be ascertained for a few more years (much like judging recruiting classes).

Let me know what you think - and if there are some other big things that I missed that Bill played a major role in.

Thanks and Go Blue in 2010!


Blue In NC

January 2nd, 2010 at 2:34 PM ^

Gee, I think the fact that the Department is in fantastic financial shape vs. being in trouble when he took over just about overrides everything else. Isn't that one of the main jobs of the AD? I don't think you really list this as a factor except in passing at the end. Martin has excelled in this area.

Although I agree with some of your points, if you seriously think that Martin's performance was subpar, then I have to think you are very superficial in your analysis. Yes, it's been a tough year as a Michigan fan but that has as much to do with the hockey team (which Martin has done exactly what he should do) as anything. You seem to downgrade him for this. And basketball is in good hands regardless considering where it has been.


January 2nd, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

I think Beilein and RR Pretty much make up his whole body of work being the two major sports. The new practice facility for basketball was pretty big though considering the downgrade of the arena right now. Volleyball has been very good and should have beat Hawaii...they played like Cinci in football. As you said it will take time to see just how good he was. I have no idea of the inner workings of what goes on daily, I'm just giving my opinion.


January 2nd, 2010 at 2:55 PM ^

but long-term, Martin's most enduring and important achievements will be in the huge improvement and expansion in athletic dept facilities, and as Blue mentions above, the restoring of the financial situation.

I think we'll have a very good indication by the end of next year's seasons whether or not Beilein and RR are going to work out here. Personally I think it's still a completely open question for both. Hope to hell they do, since they're both good men, but so far the results aren't exactly scintillating.


January 2nd, 2010 at 5:05 PM ^

To wait for all the evidence to develop, and judge the results in their entirity and finality? That's not how history is usually judged, reasonably. You'd have us already rate Obama, when we're still judging presidents from decades ago. Or more on point, Rich Rod's and Beilein's career at Michigan are failures, because even though we haven't seen what they're building, what they have done so far hasn't been great. That view isn't small-minded; you're just being short-sighted.

Michigan Arrogance

January 2nd, 2010 at 6:39 PM ^

the point is not to judge them with the benefit of hindsight. to say, "oh he's a failure b/c Amaker never got to the tourney" ignores the fact that it was universally regarded as a good hire at the time (2002 was it?). Not to mention that the program made a lot of strides due to Amaker (in spite of his many failures).

a metaphor could be made by regarding the following: Newton's Laws are failures b/c they can't explain quantum phenomenon.


January 2nd, 2010 at 7:16 PM ^

"It seemed like a good idea at the time..."

William Clay Ford...? Is that you...?

More seriously- How can you not take results into account? The road to Hell and all that... I mean, even if things were thought to be good at the time, does that mean no one's to blame if it doesn't work out? Just oops?

Does this apply to everything? Good calls that go wrong and cause teams to lose? High draft picks everyone raves about, but end up sucking? SUV's were a good money maker even if the economy ever turns south they're going to be a noose around our necks? Glad no one is losing their CEO jobs over that...

Looking back and judging things fairly is smart, not convinient. Learning from history, not doomed to repeat it, etc, etc. If Michigan Football is making all the right decisions during practice, and it doesn't work out on results day, the coach isn't keeping their job. Results matter. Even if they come after you leave. If we find out that he used a shoddy contractor, and they used cheap materials, and because of it the new Press Box falls on our head, do we not consider that bad, even though we only knew about it in hindsight?

Your example is kinda Apples and Oranges. If there's something Martin truly can't foresee changing that happens and he didn't prepare for it, you can take that into account, sure. How that applies to hiring football coaches, I don't see (unless we find out that cyborg coaches are the way ALL programs are going, and why didn't he hire one?).

Look, I'm not even saying he's done a bad job. Just that it remains to be seen. We don't know if Rich Rod is going to be a great Michigan coach, we don't know if Martin has a truly great legacy, or something less. And judging the full picture isn't small-minded, but logical and reasonable.

Michigan Arrogance

January 2nd, 2010 at 7:51 PM ^

well, that's just it. how much can an AD predict about the success of a coach? can BM predict the soap opera that was M basketball recruiting re: Joe Crawford and malik Hairston? could he predict horton getting injured/suspended the last half of 2004 & 2005 (i think?) that led to the collapse of those teams? could he predict the chronic under development of players under Amaker?

could he predict the lack of safety and QB depth that led to the FB teams destruction over the last 2 years? or the failure to develop a LBer? i mean, at some point you make the best decisions based on the best AVAILABLE evidence and let the chips fall where they may.

and how much would you expect an AD to micro manage any given team? I can't see any AD telling a coach to shore up the LBing or do X, Y , Z to fix it or we starting looking for a new guy.

i do want to make a clear distinction b/t the logical, rational hires most seem to be and the clearly incompetent hires like marty morningweg, brian ellerbe and charlie weis. even the spectatular failure of BMs 1st women's basketball hire (cheryl Burnett) was not forseeable. IME, at least


January 2nd, 2010 at 3:06 PM ^

1. I think you're missing a lot of the physical plant improvements he's made, mostly to the Olympic sports. For example, new softball field, new wrestling facility, new soccer fields, new baseball field (? I think this happened, but I may be imagining this one).

2. Turning the department into making money is huge.

3. And I don't criticize him for the Amaker hire. It was a good hire at the time. Amaker was an up and coming coach with a strong lineage. If there was a mistake made, it was giving him one year too many.


January 2nd, 2010 at 3:28 PM ^

Though Tommy didn't get the program up to the level we'd all like, he certainly left a better situation than he inherited.

Also, assuming (I think safely) that Beilein doesn't commit any major NCAA infractions, his results already make him far and away the best coach we've had in over two decades.


January 2nd, 2010 at 5:14 PM ^

I forgot about the baseball and softball facilities. Those improvements were huge and very nice. The unfortunate part of the baseball field expansion though was that the year it was done, we had a chance to host a super regional against Oregon State - but our stadium was under construction and we had to play it on the road and eventually lost (even though Zach Putnam was pitching a no-hitter into the 9th in the first game of the series). Of course, there was no way to know our baseball team was going to upset Vanderbilt that year to get that far and they had the stadium renovations planned well in advance.

The Amaker hire - yeah, I agree that at the time, I sort of liked the hire. But wasn't Pitino available at the same time, or am I messing up the years? I thought the 2 names were Pitino and Amaker and Martin didn't make as strong a pull for Pitino as most were hoping, but maybe I'm mixing up my years. The Amaker years weren't a disaster - they were competitive and they were squeaky clean as far as we know - but they weren't a success either, since we never made the tournament, despite having some nice recruiting classes. More a testament to Amaker's coaching ability than anything, which is why, as you said, he probably got one more year than he deserved.


January 2nd, 2010 at 5:53 PM ^

Pitino was available (there was a petition circulating on the Diag urging Martin to hire him), and Martin did make some effort to get him (in fact, a reported offer that we made prompted Bo to complain that the men's basketball coach at Michigan should never get paid more than the football coach) but we don't seem to have had much of a chance. Apparently his wife had her heart set on moving back to Kentucky, which is why he took the Louisville job.


January 2nd, 2010 at 6:50 PM ^

I agree it ended up being a long shot, made nil by the wife and (God bless 'em) Bo, but it was already moot by that point, because Louisville wad already throwing millions at him when we were still waiting to fire our coach (because Martin doesn't believe that Michigan fires coaches before the season ends...hires them, sure). So rather than showing the position is open, and it's yours if you want it, and here's what we'll do, we're playing some kinda game.

No, I don't recall any boat being involved back then...
But it was kinda familiar...


January 2nd, 2010 at 3:13 PM ^

Financially, he's been a whiz. Great decisions and good job getting the department in the plus. Has been able to get alot of new facility upgrades and such.

His coaching hires have been a little suspect. I guess we can't have our cake and eat it too when it comes to an AD. RR hire hasn't looked good so far, we'll see how it looks after the 2010 season. Beilein hire has lost some luster after looking great last season.


January 2nd, 2010 at 3:15 PM ^

Really, it's going to all come down to his coaching hires, the big two. And frankly, really just Rich. Because if he succeeds all is well, and if he fails it doesn't matter what Beilein does. And if the football TEAM gets trashed, no one's going to care that he made sure they lose in a really pretty stadium.

As for credit of turning it around fiscally, it doesn't take a financial wizard to have Michigan football make money. Don't give him credit for Goss being an idiot. I can turn around things by lowering costs a little while jacking up the prices on everything big time.

We win a National Championship with Rich Rod or dominate the Big Ten, he was a genius. We struggle for years and have to find new coaches, he becomes the guy who destroyed Michigan Football. Fair or not, either way.

Michigan Arrogance

January 2nd, 2010 at 4:24 PM ^

...while jacking up the prices on everything big time.

jacking up prices? i guess if you consider the PSL donations for seats inside the 30s. and that just brings the cost of tickets up to fair market value.

and the financial woes the AD went thru were not a result of the 2.5 year tenure of Tom Goss. Joe Roberson, Bo and and Don Canham were responsible for that as well.

Michigan Arrogance

January 2nd, 2010 at 6:48 PM ^

no. but it's not to be trivialized either.

they had an operating deficit and a 40 year outdated physical plant. BM managed to bring the dept into the black (waaaaaaay into the black BTW) while simultaneously adding an academic center, wrestling and soccer facilities, significantly updating the softball, baseball, football facilities and soon to add a basketball facility. that's close to half a Billion in spending all without raising the per game ticket prices more than 10% in sum over the course of his term. and oh BTW, mostly during the worst national financial crisis in 75 years.

for godssake, some people's jobs are a bit more complex than ditch digging.


January 2nd, 2010 at 3:22 PM ^

I find that in this case his job compares to the presidency when appointing supreme court justices. You don't know if the justice is good until long after the president is out of office. Same applies with Bill Martin. If RR and Beilein can make Martin look like a genius, then a good legacy.


January 2nd, 2010 at 4:55 PM ^

Key incompetence: The failure to plan way ahead for the predictable eventuality of LL retirement. We all knew that his retirement was "emminent" for years. Plan the transition. Hire the guy ahead of time maybe. (?as assist. head coach for a year or two.) recruit appropriately. don't end up with nobody on the team. Sure we changed offense radically and that ensured a difficult transition. But freshmen quarterbacks, two years in a row! (maybe 3?) And that doesn't explain the defensive collapse.
It is inexcusable to expose Michigan football to these atrocities that we have been suffering.
If this were a business, which it is, (but a whole lot more), the CEO and the board would be fired for such a drop in performance.
I love RR and Beilein. love our Oylympic sports. No problem with the facility. love it. long overdue.
But he watched the bottom line and found the bottom of the big 10.
Above all guard the quality of the product. The rest will follow. You should know that, Bill.
Fear Not, bothers! We are great enough to overcome even this and return to our rightful place among the Champions.
Otherwise, Go Blue!


January 2nd, 2010 at 5:58 PM ^

Every fanbase complains about how their AD handles a coaching transition. It's a hard thing to do, especially when you're not hiring from within (and Martin deserves credit for not giving in to the Carr loyalists who wanted the dreadful DeBord to be the head coach). It's not that easy to gauge outside coaches' interest while the season is going on.

Anyway, I have no idea what hiring RR, who cost a pretty penny, has to do with "watching the bottom line." Hiring DeBord, Hoke or some other second-tier guy would have been the truly thrifty thing to do.

(BTW, it's "imminent.")


January 2nd, 2010 at 7:30 PM ^

i do give martin credit for not caving and for hiring outside of the Michigan camp . and i didn't mean that he was tight or being thrifty. i was referring to the business decisions he made (mostly good ones), that were good for the bottom line, while not doing all he could have to avoid at least some of that fiasco we lived thru (and continue to do so). We knew LL was on the way out at least by 2006. Carr completely dropped the ball that summer of 2007. recruiting was only medium and that sealed our fate. voluntary summer workouts had medium participation. our level of readiness for app. state was self evident. Even less than medium, dismal. abysmal. and oregon. etc. carr had lost the spark, and it reflected on our underachieving team. the writing was on the wall. why all of a sudden a frantic search, internal turmoil, and an exodus of players to somewhere else? I frankly think that in RR we got one of the best available at the time. at any time. the man is a pioneer, and doesn't get nearly the respect that he deserves. nor the confidence. he will be successful here, eventually. (maybe 2011 or 2012), if we have the patience for it. that is not my point. Michigan has always (for the past 100+ years) been a defensive force. until lately. i don't put this on RR. I put it on Martin (aand LL). A better AD would have made sure that the ball wasn't dropped so badly and so often. (I'm talking metaphorically here, not literally, although that is another sore topic). Michigan has always gone to a bowel game, until now. Michigan, even when we weren't great some years, were never stinky, until now. So what i meant to say was, that although he made good decisions business wise, he took his eye off of the ball. he neglected to make sure that what needed to happen to keep us decent during this transition, happened. It didn't. And because he didn't we fell to depths never before experienced in our storied history. This is failure that cannot be spun into some sugar candy.

los barcos

January 2nd, 2010 at 5:44 PM ^

i wasnt in the country during the coaching search so i was outside of the know, but it seems as if everyone knew lloyd was stepping down at the end of the year. i cant believe it blindsided anyone in the AD's office. with that said, i would have liked to see martin have more of an idea of who he wanted as a coach before lloyd left. the whole search seemed like a debacle to me over on the other side of the pond.


January 2nd, 2010 at 5:40 PM ^

In my mind Bill Martin will go down as an excellent cash flow director, put a poor athletic director, namely in the area of personnel.

His ability to plan and execute coaching hires for basketball and football was poor. We all know about the mishandling of Les Miles (I'm happy he managed to mess that one up, but still he messed it up). Also in terms of replacing Amaker, the Amaker hire was good, but when it came time to replace him we brought in a guy with a different system and kind of blew the program up to a degree. We also ended up burning the football program to the ground with the RR hire.

I don't have beef with the credentials of the guys Martin hired, but I dislike his plan of taking his checkbook out onto the market and coach shopping. I'm a bit of a stick in the mud and I like my nice intact coaching trees. If we're going to spend a bunch of money to buy RR out of WVU and then pay him here, I'd much rather we funneled that money to a head coach in waiting kind of guy and promoted up from within.

I really hope the new AD focuses on maintain talent not just at HC, but also using some of our profits to keep around some talented young assistants so when RR does retire we can promote from within as opposed to buring it down and bringing in someone else.


January 2nd, 2010 at 6:08 PM ^

Would you have preferred us to have hired DeBord to RR? That's what we were looking at if we were making an internal hire, as Carr was strongly behind his candidacy. DeBord, it should be noted, has a career head coaching record of 12-34. He went on the record when CMU fired him (in 2003) to say that they'd probably never win again, claiming that they didn't support their coaches enough. CMU has since won three MAC titles.

As for "blowing up the basketball program," Martin fired Amaker when the tourney drought had reached nine years. Four of the five starters from Amaker's last team were graduating. There wasn't a whole lot to be blowing up. We were headed for an ugly rebuilding season in 2007-08 no matter what.


January 2nd, 2010 at 6:44 PM ^

There were not groups of Lloyd supporters saying DeBord should get the job. Did Lloyd want one of his assistants to get the job to carry on the continuity? Sure, who wouldn't? Especially when you can keep all your friends from losing their jobs. If any CURRENT assistant would have had more support, it would have been English. But even he wasn't ready yet. Lloyd kinda biffed the transition when he favored DeBord (who was never going to be a candidate) by pushing aside Terry Malone as OC, who could have been groomed with the additional years as HC-in-waiting. He was really amping up our offense, and really was a victim of an injury filled year and defensive incompetence. But hey, he might get a Super Bowl Ring out of it.

Lloyd did a bad job of grooming a next in command, so there was no Bo-like transition.


January 2nd, 2010 at 7:01 PM ^

I'm not sure what you're trying to argue here. The above poster lamented the fact that we didn't keep it internal. The only realistic internal candidate was DeBord, whom Lloyd was strongly behind. The whole time we were looking at either DeBord or an external candidate.


January 2nd, 2010 at 7:25 PM ^

Hmm, I'm not sure he was arguing that we should have hired from within as much as saying with all the money we spent we would have been better off keeping/developing/bringing into the fold a top assistant who could take over, which we didn't have, but I'm not going to argue what may or may not be his point.

English may not have been Lloyd's first choice, but would have certainly satisfied him. As I said elsewhere, that was hardly ideal either. For that to work Lloyd would have needed to stay on a number of more years for him to get more experience, and that would have created different problems.


January 2nd, 2010 at 5:46 PM ^

Take into effect the 15% of UM fans that dont read this blog(Maybe a little more but I'm being pessimistic) on a daily basis. On a general fanbase perspective the majority of people aren't paying attention to the upgrade of the Olympic sports facilites. They base their opinion on football, basketball, and hockey. Martins legacy will go as those sports go mainly the first two. My uncle is an alum and turned on RR and pretty much UM sports when he didn't go for two against state. He doesn't want to hear how DG is going to tear it up.


January 2nd, 2010 at 6:10 PM ^

I forgot to mention his competitive non-conference scheduling, or lack thereof. In football, it's been deplorable. It's Notre Dame and then 3 MAC schools or equivalent generally. The Utah game was an aberration (I don't think he thought Utah was a top 10 team when he agreed to schedule them) and the Delaware State game was a joke (look how many Buckeye fans bought tickets to that game so they could buy a ticket to the UM/OSU game). It's hard to believe that the Michigan I grew up watching - who would take on anyone (scheduled Colorado, Florida State, UCLA, Washington, and Miami of Florida as non-conference opponents - in addition to Notre Dame in the 80s and 90s), now seems to avoid playing the big boys. Part of it was the addition of Penn State to the conference, so I can partially understand, but as a fan, I'm envious of Ohio State when they play USC and Texas in the non-conference. Wouldn't a home and home with Georgia rock? I mean come on, that would be sweet.

The football schedule is really weird when you look at the schedules of the other sports - basketball had a very competitive schedule last year and this year - hockey always plays tough non-conference teams (even though it's a limited schedule) and the baseball and softball teams play killer schedules (did you see the softball schedule this year??? Brutal!).


January 2nd, 2010 at 7:40 PM ^

I'm envious of Ohio State when they play USC and Texas in the non-conference.

They don't play them in the same year. OSU actually pioneered the "one good game, three crappy ones" model.

Musket Rebellion

January 2nd, 2010 at 6:57 PM ^

Pitino used us as leverage to get a better contract from Louisville. We were never going to pay him enough to come to AA. The Amaker hire was considered a coup at the time, in hindsight it didn't work out, but Amaker was one of the "hot young coaches" at the time that Martin brought him in.