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Juwan Howard tears up during Michigan introduction

Juwan Howard, Warde Manuel

Juwan Howard reacts with tears of joys as he is introduced as Michigan’s new men’s NCAA college basketball coach by Director of Athletics Warde Manuel, Thursday, May 30, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Mich. The former member of the Fab Five has a five-year contract that will pay him $2 million in his first year. The former Miami Heat assistant coach replaces John Beilein, who left to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)


The idea of a “Michigan Man” being the one needed to take over the Wolverine program from John Beilein was probably overplayed. There’s nothing that would preclude a coach - say like Billy Donovan or Tony Bennett or Jay Wright - who hadn’t spent time in a Michigan uniform or an Ann Arbor classroom from finding success with a wealthy - both in tradition and financial resources - program.

Michigan ties aren’t what’s ultimately going make or break the Wolverine program going forward.


Having said that...

Juwan Howard’s reaction during his introductory press conference Thursday showed why having a deep connection - and care for - the program could go a long way.

“Tears of joy. I said I wasn’t going to cry. I guess that never happens when you’re excited about something so special to you, that means so much,” Howard said. “Last time I had a press conference in this building was 1994. I declared that I was going to go to the NBA. It felt like I was letting down my teammates because I didn’t do what I came here to do, which was bring a championship to this university. The university that I care so much about. I guess you can see that now.”

Whoever Michigan hired was going to work like a crazy person to keep the Wolverines on the trajectory that Beilein had set, but it’s clear that this is more than a job at a school for Howard, who came back to his alma mater after spending the last few years as a Miami Heat assistant. A college job is more than just Xs and Os, and selling your school and program - to recruits and boosters - is a big a part of it as anything.

It doesn’t appear that part of the job will be all that difficult for Howard.