Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wolverine Wednesday: Sailboat Bill Blew It and Blew It Big

Good leaders are never surprised because they have a contingency plan for pretty much every situation.   Data centers in Iowa have back plans if a hurricane hits.

When Bill Martin was the AD of Michigan, he didn't have a plan to replace Lloyd Carr when he retired.   Which is un-explainable because Lloyd wanted to retire after USC beat Michigan on January 1st, 2007 and Bill talked him out of it.   So when Lloyd retired 11 months later, Bill was caught off guard.   How did that happen?  How could you not have plan?  How could you not have gauged interest in who might be available and who wanted the job?  Was the plan to give it to Mike Debord or Ron English?  Mike had a terrible run at CMU as a head coach and Ron's defense had just been embarrassed by App State and Oregon on back to back fall weekends. 

Hiring a new head football coach would be Bill's biggest job as AD at Michigan.  Not expanding the Big House, hiring the basketball coach or getting the athletic department back in the green.   It was hiring a football coach. 

As you can tell by now, I am deep in the middle of reading John Bacon's 3 and Out, which clearly details how Sailboat Bill completely screwed up the coaching search, which alienated pretty much every group associated with the University including; Alumni, former players, President Mary Sue Coleman, the media, and all Michigan fans.   If you think about it, being able to piss off so many people was quite an accomplishment. 

The Sailboat weekend pretty much went as we thought.
  • Les Miles wants the job and tries to contact Bill.
  • Bill doesn't return the messages and takes off for a long weekend (side note: when you are in the middle of the most important thing you do in your job, it's probably not the best time to take a long weekend)
  • Bill gets a new cell phone and doesn't know how to use it.  Really?  How do you not know how to answer a phone?
  • Herbie breaks the Miles to Michigan story
  • All hell breaks loose and Bill is on his sailboat and listening to a Kansas CD.
  • Bill doesn't realize what has happen until he gets home from Florida.  
  • Complete disaster

Let's be clear about one thing.  Les Miles is hated in Ann Arbor by some powerful people and never would have been the head coach of Michigan.  Never.  If Les was ever offered the job in Ann Arbor he would have taken it a New York minute.  He never got offered before or after RR.  He turned those non-offers into two contract extensions with LSU.   So the next time Brent Musburger (who said just a couple of weeks ago) says that Miles turned down a couple of opportunities to coach Michigan is completely false and exactly what I would expect to hear from Musburger.

I am not beating down Sailboat Bill today because he didn't hire Miles.  I am beating him down because he was completely un-prepared to find the next Michigan coach and was trying to hire the Rutgers coach or was focused on guys like Tony Dungy (who was never going to come here).   It was a complete cluster of a coaching search and they panicked and hired the first big name that said yes. 

Lloyd Carr even called Rich and sold him on the job in Ann Arbor because he didn't want Miles.   (Be prepared because Lloyd will be taken to the Big House Blog Wood Shed in later posts).   Who Mary Sue was starting to have conversations with, when it was clear Sailboat Bill wasn't getting it done. 

So you might be asking, "Why bring this stuff back up?"

A few reasons:
  1.  We haven't played a football game in a week and half and there isn't much Michigan news out there right now.
  2. Three and Out came out yesterday
  3. I have been waiting for the truth for over 3 years on what really happened. 
My last point is when Rich Rod took the Michigan job 3 + years ago, the Michigan community was split and upset at Bill and the program for many different reasons.  Rich had a target on his head starting day one.   I think Rich made a ton of mistakes of his own and had to be fired earlier this year, but consider one thing for a minute:  Are we blaming the wrong guy for Michigan's disaster for the last 3 years?

It seems to me Bill Martin was the guy that was asleep at the wheel and created this mess.  Rich was just the sucker who said yes.  Bill didn't do any research or know anything about Rich's situation at WVU.   Rich was having his own serious problems at WVU and was looking for a way out.  Bill gave him that platform and escape to Ann Arbor.   This entire transaction feels to me like a guy looking for a watch on Times Square and a buys a Rolex for $100 thinking he got a great deal. 

 BTW: don't buy that Bill retired a year or so ago, he retired just like Jim Tressel retired from Ohio State.     

(I don't want to diminish Bill's entire time at U of M.  He did some good things like expanding the Big House, hiring a number of good coaches for other sports including John Beilein)


Mick said...

I blamed Martin from the get go, I remember being furious back then. I knew RR wasn't going to work out halfway through the 2008 season, we should've went after Harbaugh at the time, our program would never have suffered like it has.

But, I'm glad we have Hoke now and all we can do is look forward to a wonderful future of M Football and all sports for that matter, Go Blue!!!

Bob said...

Well, said. If Bill had done his homework, it should have been clear to him that Jim was a huge rising star.

Michigan would have been able to get him in a heart beat back then as well.

(I know there was a little bad blood with the DUI and him throwing Michigan under the bus a few years before that for classes the football team were taking)

GoBlueGuy said...

I can't wait to read this book. I have made many assessments why the program went on a downward spiral, including Lloyd Carr quitting on he recruiting trail. Looking forward to the read.