Martin optimistic about future

Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin on Wednesday asked for patience from his fans and reiterated his full support for coach Rich Rodriguez.

"Of course we're all concerned, but the message is simple: to have patience," Martin said. "Those who stay will be champions. That's what Bo [Schembechler] always said. I am all in for Rich Rodriguez. He will get the job done for us. He has assembled an excellent staff. He has got my full support."

Michigan is 5-5, 1-5 in the Big Ten in Rodriguez's second season. The Wolverines have lost five of six games and must win at Wisconsin or against Ohio State to avoid missing a bowl game for a second consecutive season.

"It is important for us to go to bowl games of course because we've always done it," Martin said. "And we want to go again this year and every year. We're in a very challenging transition at this time but I am very optimistic about the future."

Martin, who hired Rodriguez but will be retiring after this season, said there are positive signs.

"Bear in mind that we have a very young team," Martin said. "We have over seventy percent of our kids are freshmen or sophomores. We are starting a freshman quarterback. We are only using 70 of our 85 scholarships. We've got a lot of room to recruit a lot of great players. And our players have bought into Coach Rod and his staff and the system."

Martin called out Michigan's defensive performance.

"Our offense is putting points on the board," he said. "There is no question also that we really need to see some significant improvement on the defensive side."

Joe Schad is a national college football reporter for ESPN.