In these politically charged times, there may be no better campaign manager than ESPN personality Jalen Rose, at least when it comes to the coaching vacancy at Michigan and his former Fab Five Freshman Wolverines teammate Juwan Howard.
In the wake of John Beilein this week leaving as Michigan coach for a five-year contract to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rose has gone on the offensive to have Howard, currently a Miami Heat assistant coach to Erik Spoelstra, named to lead the Wolverines.
Howard this offseason has interviewed for coaching vacancies with the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Cavaliers.
Howard played three years at Michigan, part of the 1991-92 Fab Five class that included prized recruits Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. He then went on to a successful NBA career that included 2012 and '13 championships with the Heat, becoming a Heat assistant coach in 2014.
Rose, the former NBA guard, appeared on ESPN's "Get Up" Friday morning to continue his push to see his friend put in charge of the Michigan program.
"Now that there's a vacant job in Ann Arbor, let's do a blank canvas of actually who should be the No. 1 candidate," said Rose. "And, to me, that should be a no-brainer. There's a guy named Juwan Howard, that's from Chicago, which means he's going to help recruit and market, that not only was an All-American in high school, came to the University of Michigan, was a member of the Fab Five, and he was the first person to sign their letter of intent. In theory, he also helped recruit each one of us.
"And for those that don't know, he was always the adult in the room among us. You never saw Juwan Howard without a haircut. You've never seen him without a crease in his pants. You've never seen him undisciplined. And he was a technician out on the floor. He goes to the NBA, ultimately gets a max contract, plays a really long time, becomes an All-Star, and later in his career becomes a champion."
Rose said Howard would arrive to campus with ample and enviable relationships.
"Some of the people that he was around were bettering his career, like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade," he said. "How about then being a coach that's gained experience as an assistant? He's earning his chops under a championship coach like Erik Spoelstra, an organization like the Miami Heat, and the tutelage and validity of Pat Riley.
"He's currently being interviewed for NBA jobs – Cleveland, Los Angeles (Lakers), Minnesota, New York (last year) that have all interviewed him for head-coaching jobs. So this is just a legit beef of somebody that happens to be in the pipeline and Michigan has a head-coaching vacancy. He would be the perfect person to help embody what it took to be culturally relevant, because he helped poise the culture."
Rose said Michigan should act with the same haste as when football coach Jim Harbaugh was recruited in 2015 from the NFL.
"And so for a guy like Juwan," Rose said, "who now all of a sudden finds himself, 'Should I take the pro job? Should I take the college job?' I saw how the University of Michigan went after Jim Harbaugh. When they really wanted him, they went and got him.
"I think that should be the exact same thing with Juwan – you've got to go get him."
Rose said that in one respect he views Howard as an upgrade to Beilein.
"The one thing he did not do, and it was a different style of recruiting, is recruit McDonald's All-Americans," Rose said. "In his entire tenure there, we had a grand total of zero get recruited to the University of Michigan.
"I think Juwan Howard is the guy who could bring that back, who would be a terrific head coach, who would be terrific at developing young talent. He wouldn't take no mess off of the players. He would own the Michigan market."