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.
***LARRY DAVID VOICE***
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.