Juwan Howard hears the doubters. Even now, with 33 wins in his 46 games as a head coach, he sees the backhand compliments. That he’s doing a good job for a first-time head coach — that qualifier serving to detract from his accomplishments.
“Of course I’ve heard it,” Howard said Wednesday, three days after guiding Michigan to a 14-point comeback win over Wisconsin, fresh off a 23-day COVID-19 pause. “… But I’m not here to make this a big issue.”
Howard’s accomplishments serve to do that for him. With each win, the question marks that surrounded his arrival in Ann Arbor fade further and further into the background. Twenty months after that tearful opening press conference, they’re virtually non-existent. Howard is a legitimate national coach of the year candidate.
But it wasn’t always that way.
“I’ve been extremely competitive since I started playing sports,” Howard said. “Whether it was basketball, baseball. I didn’t play competitive football, but in our neighborhoods, we played against each neighborhood in the park in football and it was tackle football with no equipment. So that level of mental toughness has prepared me for whatever has been thrown in my direction.