In hiring Jim Harbaugh, Michigan was adding a head coach that had reached a Super Bowl, and a beloved alumnus. The Wolverines’ recent hire of Juwan Howard fills that second part, though Howard has never led his own team.
That doesn’t mean that the Howard hire is as big a risk as some other programs have taken bringing in famous alumni. Howard spent the six years after his NBA retirement as an assistant for the Miami Heat.
There are far worse people in basketball to learn under than Eric Spoelstra and Pat Riley. He’s also building an experience staff around him to help the transition.
On the latest episode of his “Attack Each Day” podcast, Jim Harbaugh shared his thoughts on the Juwan Howard hire.
Harbaugh described how quickly a coach learns in the pro ranks, and compares this hire to his own in Ann Arbor.
“Juwan has six years of professional coaching experience, but it may as well be 12 — it’s basically doubled in pro sports.
“You always reflect on your playing days, so he has a wealth of experience and you can tell he’s a leader.
“I didn’t want to be hired at Michigan just because I went to school here, but because I was the best person for the job.
Harbaugh has been very successful at Michigan, but he has started feeling some heat, especially with his inability to beat Ohio State thus far. He didn’t shy away from the pressure that comes from coaching your alma mater, but credits athletic director Warde Manuel for the impressive support that he has given.
“This isn’t just another job or even a dream job — it’s personal, and you have to see it succeed because it’s your family. It’s not another stop along the way, but instead an extra effort you want to put in.
“The support we get from Warde is unmatched — you’d expect that from football, but I also get the same feedback from the other coaches.
“Warde hasn’t hired all of us, but he has supported us all in a big way. We’ve all been very happy under Warde’s leadership.”
Manuel appeared as a guest on the show, and backed up what Harbaugh had to say, and added that he looks forward to seeing Manuel develop as a coach.
The pressure at Michigan basketball may not be the same as what Harbaugh and the football program face, but John Beilein took the program to a new level over the last few years. Howard steps into a very good situation, but also one that will demand results.