Michigan Wolverines fans are well-versed in rumors about their head football coach being courted for professional opportunities. Heck, it even happened at the tail end of the John Beilein era. Success opens the door to chances for upward trajectory and Juwan Howard will seemingly be the next Michigan fixture to pop up in pro rumors.
That is not much of a surprise considering his background as an NBA player and assistant, but ESPN believes his status will be a storyline to watch throughout the NCAA Tournament. Teams continue to poke around and there are expected to be several openings this offseason.
Will Howard listen? That remains to be seen, especially considering the fact that he has the No. 1 recruiting class in the country coming in, as well as several key players expected to return.
Howard has wowed onlookers in the basketball industry with the level of preparation, discipline and execution his team displays, as well as the strong relationship he has built with his players. He has been highly innovative in the X’s and O’s department. He is clearly beloved by everyone he has worked with through the years. And he has empowered his players to step out of their comfort zones and develop the skill sets needed to succeed at the NBA level, including helping Wagner rocket into lottery conversations and Livers develop some first-round buzz prior to his unfortunate injury.
If Howard can overcome a difficult draw to lead Michigan to the Final Four — and likely even if he doesn’t — there’s a good chance the NBA will come calling again, this time with an offer he might not be able to refuse.
Howard’s name will be spoken about NBA gigs for as long as he coaches at Michigan, so that is something that we will get used to moving forward. It seems likely that a raise is coming his way for the success he has had in building the program through the first two seasons of his tenure. I would expect that to be one of Warde Manuel’s top priorities whenever the Wolverines are done in the postseason.
The NBA will continue to make its calls and Howard may eventually be destined to make that step, but nothing about his current situation suggests the leap back to the pros is in the cards. Michigan brings in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country next season on top of the fact Jace Howard will still be in college for the next four to five seasons. His brother, four-star 2022 guard Jett Howard, is likely to follow.
Stopping short of putting words in Howard’s mouth, it feels like something he will want to see through as long as Michigan makes the commitment financially. Not many would have expected a Big Ten title, Coach of the Year honors and a Final Four-caliber team in year two, so the investment would not be hard to stomach for the athletic department.
All bets could be off if Michigan goes out and wins a national title this year, but this feels like the beginning of a promising relationship as opposed to the swan song, as the ESPN article suggests.