When he introduced Juwan Howard at a press conference in May 2019, Warde Manuel took exception to the idea that the hire was a gamble. On Tuesday afternoon, Manuel started a press conference by congratulating his men’s basketball program for a Big Ten title.
“I’m not gonna quote myself, I’ll leave that up to you all to do,” Manuel said, “but basically I said ‘give him a chance to grow as a head coach. Give him the opportunity to develop as a head coach and to run a program as the head coach.’ “
Two seasons in, it’s hard to imagine Howard’s hire having gone any better for Michigan. After last postseason got canceled due to COVID-19, Howard has already gotten the Wolverines hardware this season with a Big Ten title, has them in position for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and has the top-ranked recruiting class in the country.
All that, for a hire who was widely deemed a big swing, after a coaching search conducted at the tail end of the hiring cycle.
No one would fault Manuel for taking a bit of a victory lap — the hire is, certainly, his biggest success as Michigan’s athletic director. He instead opted to take the high road.