An Interview With Desmond Howard

Submitted by Tim on September 2nd, 2010 at 4:56 PM


Former Michigan great Desmond Howard is promoting the AllState Mayhem Football Challenge, which you can find here. I got the opportunity to ask him about that and Michigan football earlier today.

You were recruited by Bo, but you also played for Gary Moeller. What helped that transition be so smooth, and why isn't it the same now?

Well, it's the obvious, I'm not gonna tell you anything that you don't know. It's pretty much that it was within the coaching ranks. I think that when you hire within, then the degree of change isn't that great. When you hire outside the coaching tree, so to speak, then the degree of change may vary, because a person's going to bring in their own philosophies, their own style, their own way of doing things. To me, that's just obvious. When you look at the coaches who followed Coach Schembechler, they weren't outside the family tree, so they were kind of keeping things consistent. That's what any program knows across the country. Once you hire within, then there isn't the huge degree of change that can happen when you hire outside of the family tree.

We hear all this discussion of how many wins Rich Rodriguez needs to keep his job, but how many wins do you see Michigan getting this year?

It's tough to say because you don't know about the product yet, so everybody just throws out numbers. I'm not in the business of just throwing out numbers just to give people numbers [despite working for ESPN. ZING!]. I mean, you need to see the product first. I thought coming out of the spring that they have an opportunity to have a pretty productive offense. I thought they had some real good talent at the skill positions. I felt as though their Achilles heel could possibly be their defense. Not saying that they wouldn't be a good defense, but I wasn't sure and I'm still not sure that they're going to be the type of defense that's going to be able to come up with big stops in big games to win those games for them. My opinion is that they'll be able to score some points, there's no doubt about that. They're going to put some points on the scoreboard, but will they be able to come up with those big stops in some crucial games to give them the victories? That's what I think I would want to see at this point.

You're one of just three Heisman winners from Michigan. Do you see anyone on the current roster who has the potential to contend for the stiffarm trophy in future years?


That's a good question. I think that they have some talent there, but that's such a prestigious trophy, I don't just put a player up for that just because I saw him do some things in practice. I have a little more respect for that trophy than to sit here and tell you something like that. I think they do have guys who have great potential, but until that potential manifests itself on an actual football field in a real game, then I can't put those sorts of lofty expectations on the potential. Do they have potentially good skill position players? Of course they do, I said that earlier, I think they have some fantastic talent at the skill positions. But, they've gotta go out there and show it.

You heard about the "#1 jersey controversy" between Braylon and Coach Rodriguez when he first came in. You never wore the #1 jersey despite being a great receiver at Michigan. What do you make of it all?

I guess Braylon Edwards had endowed the jersey or something like that. From my understanding, when Braylon did what he did, he was under the impression that he would have some sort of say in who wears that jersey. That's the part that gets dicey. I heard it was agreed that he would be able to tell who would wear the jersey or at least it would go to a wide receiver. I think at the end of the day, when I spoke with Braylon, he had a conversation with Rich Rod, Rich Rod was new and he wasn't aware of that whole situation, and then like two men they talked about it, they squashed it out, and I didn't think anything else came of it after that. I didn't think it really blew up.

You've probably seen the Big Ten division split by now. What do you think of Michigan and Ohio State being in opposite division but still playing on the last week?

I thought that different divisions made sense if you want to be able to give the fans an opportunity to see two of the most storied programs in the history of college football play each other for the conference championship, which is what most fans were used to anyway. That game wasn't the last game of the year just because it was convenient for both teams. That game was the last game of the year for those two teams because usually, that game came down to who would represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. Now, not always, but usually. I think that now they're splitting them up so now you can till have a similar scenario.

After your days in the NFL ended, how did you start getting into broadcasting?

I graduated from Michigan with a degree in mass medium communications from the communications department. I guess that can help you understand how I was going that direction after I retired.

What can you tell us about the AllState Mayhem Football Challenge?

It's a great game, I think that they came up with an excellent concept. It seems like it could be win-win. Each week, there's going to be a prize given away, but the grand prize at the end is tickets to two huge games, They get tickets to the 2011 AllState Sugar Bowl and the BCS National Championship game. So I think it's a win-win for anybody who wants to play. It's in the spirit of college football; it just gives a lot of [armchair] college quarterbacks an opportunity to show how good they are at predicting the unpredictable. How good they are at trying to foresee mayhem, things that people normally don't think are going to happen, but end up happening, and can change the game. I think it's huge, it's a great opportunity for a lot of college football fans to get involved.

I want to make sure you understand the grand prize for this. They get tickets to both events - I wish I could play it. If I wasn't working, doing what I do for a living, I would play it, just for the opportunity to get tickets to the AllState Sugar Bowl AND the BCS National Championship Game. I mean, what college football fan wouldn't want to be a part of that.

Thank you, and thanks for the opportunity to hear about the AllState Challenge.

I'm telling you, it's a fantastic game. Have you seen the 3D TVs? I was at Best Buy a month ago, and I wasn't even in the market for a TV, I was just getting some other stuff. But wow, I stopped over there by the stereo and TV section, and they this 3D TV set up. What they were playing was this volleyball game. I'm not really a volleyball fan, and I mean, I must have sat there and watched that thing for 12 minutes. They're giving away 46-inch LCD screen 3D TVs, that alone would make me play either week.



September 2nd, 2010 at 5:17 PM ^

It has to be so hard for him to work for ESPN, he is so level headed and to have to work with some of those other guys from that network he has got to just bang his head on a wall every now and then.


September 3rd, 2010 at 8:24 AM ^

Which is understandable. But come on, it's WAY more likely that Desmond loves working there and wants to work there even more. Most people, and most athletes, do not share the popular blogosphere notion that ESPN is a vast wasteland of shills and evils. Most athletes are dying to work there.


September 2nd, 2010 at 5:18 PM ^

Thanks for the post Tim.  I'm always interested in what former Wolverines think about the current state of the program.  Sounds like Desmond is pretty high on the offense and pretty low on the defense.  I think after he see's the product on the field this year he will surely have us in a bowl game.  Thanks again Tim.

03 Blue 07

September 2nd, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

This post should also have "100% Pure Colombian Awesome" as a tag. Just sayin'. It's Desmond. Talking to MGoBlog. That's the definition of "100% Pure Colombian Awesome." At least, you know, in the non-1982 sense.

Zone Left

September 2nd, 2010 at 5:26 PM ^

I'd watch 3D women's volleyball for 12 minutes too.

Way to go TIm, mgoblog is going mainstream.  How long before you guys start sleeping with models on platinum beds?


September 2nd, 2010 at 5:41 PM ^

Nice interview with Desmond. 

I understand what he's saying about transition and going "outside the family," to find a new coach.  But it should be noted that when Bo left,  Moeller had a ton of talented players to work with his first year.  The program was thriving at that point and currently going through 5 straight seasons of Big Ten championships.  Not exactly the same for RichRod in 2008.   


September 2nd, 2010 at 6:00 PM ^

While I tend to agree with your general point, you are incorrect on your Michigan history about the program "going through 5 straight seasons of Big Ten championships."

Here's a breakdown of Bo's final 5 seasons:

1985  10-1-1 (2nd in the Big Ten)

1986 11-2 (tied for 1st in Big Ten)

1987 8-4 (4th in the Big Ten)

1988 9-2-1 (1st in Big Ten)

1989 10-2 (1st in the Big Ten)

Michigan's run of 5 straight Big Ten championships occurred from 1988 to 1992.


September 2nd, 2010 at 6:16 PM ^

It's ok in a general commentary post, but if you're interviewing someone, it's not really good to be "zinging" the guy who granted you an interview. Not if you expect to get any more interviews in the future.


September 2nd, 2010 at 6:54 PM ^

So I'm guessing that was Tim, not Brian.  And since it was saying it was about him working for ESPN, maybe Tim/Brian was zinging ESPN, but I really doubt Desmond meant it to diss his fellow numbers guys at ESPN. And even if he was, pointing it out, which then would get him in trouble at ESPN is an even worse thank you for doing the interview.

I mean, if you want to stay Bloggy and funny, that's cool, there's a place for doing that really well.  And if you want to be all serious and get the big interviews in stuff, and make it more mainstream, that's good too.  There can be a balance of both. It's just being able to differentiate the two, so both can be done well and professionally.


September 2nd, 2010 at 7:32 PM ^

Miss you, little guy. xoxo.

Desmond must love Best Buy.  A friend of mine ran into him at a Best Buy near Dadeland Mall in Miami around the time of the Rich Rod hiring.  My friend got the impression that Desmond was not a huge fan of the hire.  But maybe he had to be publically noncommital.  I think it would be fun to watch Desmond play in the spread and shred.