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Posted on Thu, May 26, 2011 : 9:29 p.m.

Desmond Howard uses Denard Robinson as an example of his issues with current-day college football

By Staff

Desmond Howard, who won a Heisman Trophy during his time with the Michigan football program, used current Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson as an example of how he thinks college football has changed ... and it's not for the better.

The St. Petersburg Times covered Howard's keynote address at Thursday's Black Coaches and Administrators convention in St. Petersburg.

In it, Howard said he thought players -- beginning with extensive coverage of the recruiting process -- take the spotlight from their team before they accomplish anything on the field.

Howard, who played wide receiver for the Wolverines from 1989-91 and is now an ESPN college football analyst, said when he was recruited by Bo Schembechler, the Michigan coaching legend made it clear "that no one man is bigger than the program."

He said he's not sure that's the case any longer, and again used Michigan as an example. His quote, as reported in the St. Petersburg Times:

"I'll give you a perfect example: Michigan fires coach Rich Rodriguez. All the noise in Ann Arbor is, 'Is Denard Robinson going to stay or leave?' I'm like, 'Hey, if the kid wants to go, don't let the door hit you on the way out.' You looked fantastic for five games against nobody. That's what you did. I'm not going to deny his talents, but you ain't won nothing in Ann Arbor, son! Not so much we need to worry about if you're going to be here next year or not."



Tue, May 31, 2011 : 5:21 a.m.

I agree with what other people have said. Denard doesn't deserve to be thrown under the bus like this. He won the starting job from a quarterback who thought he was bigger and better than the team by earning the respect of his teammates and coaches. With that defense we could easily have had another three win season. Despite all that he's accomplished, he's one of the most humble and gracious athletes I've seen in recent memory, and the last person on that squad that would put himself before the team. Just watch any of his interviews. I think an apology, or at least a clarification is in order from Desmond.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

A2Dave wrote: " Every Saturday morning last year, on ESPN's College Gameday, we all had the pleasure of seeing Desmond repeatedly and gratuitously slam Michigan and in particular the Michigan defense. 'Worst in history'! 'Awful'!" Let's see: The D gave up more yards and more points than any Michigan team in history (the worst before 2010 had been . . . wait for it . . . 2009), and it was ranked 110 out of 120 teams in the FBS in total defense. And you expected Desmond to put lipstick on THAT pig? Good Night and Good Luck

Joe Geshel

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

Whether or not Denard Robinson was going to stay at Michigan was not a thought created by Denard. It was the press that started to talk about this issue because of the firing of Rodriguez. I not happy ab out what Desmond said because he is wrong to think that Denard started this. It is unfortunate that the avarice of the press develops a story out of thin air and feeds it so as to creat hard feelings all around. Now you know!


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

Denard is a "class act," because he never received any criticism from any of the coaches, and virtually none from any of the press. It's easy to come off as classy when everyone tells you how wonderful you are. But everything Desmond said is true. We won no big games; in fact, we were humiliated in the big games. Desmond owes no apology here. In fact, he is owed some respect. He is a Heisman winner and took us to a Rose Bowl, and denard hasn't come close to either of those. What would Desmond be jealous of? That Denard got us humiliated in a crappy bowl in florida? You can blame the defense all you want - no points after the first quarter, people. NONE. 7 points against Ohio State. Yeah, I don't think Desmond is jealous of those pathetic stats.

Blueman Rick

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

Enough with the hysterics. Howard is right in pointing out that when Rich Rod was fired that the focus of the press was not on the future of the program but on whether or not Robinson would return under a new coach. Under Bo it WAS team 1st. Who would challenge that?


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

Desmond simply should keep his mouth shut. Could there be more than a little jealousy?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

Jealousy of . . . what? Last time I checked, Desmond had his Heisman, his Super Bowl MVP trophy, and his NFL championship ring. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

Every Saturday morning last year, on ESPN's College Gameday, we all had the pleasure of seeing Desmond repeatedly and gratuitously slam Michigan and in particular the Michigan defense. "Worst in history"! "Awful"! etc., etc. --while all the time clearly demonstrating that, though he played football for Michigan, he didn't avail himself of the excellent education available to him while he was at it. Michigan Man? the famous unspontaneous Poseur of the Heisman? "look at me, man, I am the greatest!--Me! me! me!"?? For character and humility, he couldn't carry DRob's shoes--tied, or not.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Hey Mr. Heisman Trophy winner and esteemed "Michigan Man", thanks for helping Michigan out in the 1992 U-Washington Rose Bowl massacre. You had 1 catch for 35 yards in that game. Look, you could've used yourself as a perfect example of disappearing in tough games.


Sun, May 29, 2011 : 12:59 a.m.

Whoosh! That was my point screaming past you.


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

Dude, we got to the rose bowl. What rose bowl has denard taken us to? That's what I thought.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Desmond tweets that he can't explain his comments in "<140 characters" but that his comments are taken out of context, and that DR is too good of a kid to imply what we apparently understand. Wouldn't be the first time someone's speech is clipped to create headlines, but I'm not too fond of what I did read. It was confusing and conflicting because Desmond has always been such a public, unabashed fan of Michigan, that these comments didn't make much sense.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

bill, ur right. see stories from mi. staff members there. they didn't see it as a slam to dr, if you read it all, you'll probably say right on!


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

Real classy, Desmond. I can't believe some people on this board are actually defending Desmond Howard. I guess being a "Michigan Man" these days not only involves public non-support of coaches but also criticism of current players as well? Calling all "Michigan Men", please go away and SHUT UP!


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

I am pretty sure most everyone gets "the broader message". Honestly, why does it even need to be said? People already know many high school football athletes are entitled. The main point of my rant is he used Denard as an example and it was the worst possible example he could've used. In fact, if anything it weakened his argument substantially. So, why did he use Denard as an example? I think many people here hated Rich Rod so much that they also have a distaste for, either consciously or subconsciously, RR's recruits as well. Denard embodies RR's offense and everything that power football lovers hate. I believe that's why the anti-RR crowd is willing to give Desmond the benefit of the doubt.

Blu n Tpa

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

tbf I can believe it. Remember the broader message and the next time you see some soon to be HS senior getting TV time think: "What the hell has he done to deserve this type of attention?

David Vande Bunte

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

Lets talk about context, a little, for those of you that claim Denard Robinson didn't do anything against decent competition, and only amassed stats against the powderpuff teams...I checked the stats against the good teams, and counted only games that met the following criteria: 1. BCS conference opponent (+ Notre Dame) 2. Went to Bowl game 3. Finished with winning record Games considered: UConn, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Iowa, Penn State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Mississippi State. Games eliminated from stats: UMass, Bowling Green, Indiana, Purdue. Denard Robinson's stats are still pretty good. They aren't video game like, but they are numbers that any spread option QB would consider a good year. Only using the 9 games that meet the criteria, Denard's per game stats look like: PASSING Completions/Attempts: 16/26 Passing yards: 201 Completion percentage: 61 Yards per completion: 13.66 Passing TDs: 1.33 INTs: 0.8 QB rating: 138.1 RUSHING Attempts: 21.4 Yards: 131.5 YPC: 5.88 TDs: 1 So, even eliminating the cupcakes from the schedule, Denard still averaged 332 yards from scrimmage, over 2 TDs a game, less than one INT a game, more than 13 yards per completion, and almost 6 yards per carry rushing. Denard Robinson did just fine against good competition.


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

Silliness. You're missing the only stat that matters. How many of those games did we win? And I think you also need to remove UConn (they were not a good team). Answer: 2. And one of those games, Tate played at least half, taking us into multiple overtime. So those stats are not impressive. Not impressive at all. See, you're missing Desmond's point. It's about the TEAM. And for the team, it's about WINS. The TEAM does not care about Denard's stats. None of us should really care about his personal stats. We should care about the WINS. You just made Desmond's point for him, thank you very much.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.

Some of Denard's stats are amazing ... for example, he owns the record for the 4 highest total yards per game and 6 of the top 7 in UM history. Against AP ranked teams he had 6 passing TD's and 6 INT's , so he needs to improve in that area. Even though DRob's overall stats against the better teams are pretty good, there is no doubt that as an offense and as a team we really struggled in those games.

1st Down

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

Good post....BUT break down his first half numbers vs. second half numbers of decent teams and you will find that a lot of his yards vs. good teams came during garbage catch up time in the second half vs. prevent style defenses. During First halves against good teams... Denard and the Playground offense struggled...and thats not on Denard.... more on RR and his inept schemes and inability to recruit a decent RB to compliment Denard in the back field.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

Love the reference to Bo's "that no one man is bigger than the program." Desmond makes a good point about individual players taking the spotlight from their team. That is not necessarily the fault of the players though ... the media certainly contributes to that, as does youtube, facebook, twitter,... DRob would be the LAST person I would have used as an example of the point he was trying to make. DRob is a special person who has a ton of God-given talent, and yet is a humble person and a team player. As some other posters have mentioned, guys like Cam Newton or Terrell Pryor would be the perfect examples... guys who obviously put self above their team & program, their teammates, their university,...


Sun, May 29, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

thanks tbf.


Sun, May 29, 2011 : 2:29 a.m.

Excellent post, mission. I knew we could see eye to eye on some things.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

"that no one man is bigger than the program." Says the boy who staged the Heisman pose with crass premeditation. How can you say he was not criticizing Denard? "don't let the door hit you on the way out, "son"'. Certainly not too supportive of a player who carried his Michigan team all year and never sought out the cameras or publicity but was thrown in the spotlight anyway. Desmond, your team had TWELVE all conference players plus Steve Morrison, plenty of heroes upon whose shoulders you rode. Who was around to support Denard? No such level of talent, yet you smirk "You ain't won nothin', son.", as if YOU did it by yourself? And OBTW, way to disappear in the Rose Bowl! Very distasteful, smacks of raging jealousy.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

It's true Michigan and Denard dropped off as the year progressed, but Michigan could not match up physically. Denard, however, has always put the team first. Sounds like Desmond is getting bitter and jealous realizing that he is over the hill and not even a memory in the minds of many younger Michigan fans. That is disappointing to see. He should follow his own advice, put Michigan first and stop drawing attention to yourself to feed your ego.

Lorain Steelmen

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

I am VERY disappointed in Desmond. Sure, I understand the passion for 'THE TEAM' but you don't criticize a current player like DRob, who embodies the very charateristics that you claim to support. Howard either doesn't know DRob, or, he is confusing the 'fan support' for a great kid, and he's totalling mis-interpreting the fervor, that IS, Michigan football. I would hate to think that Desdmond is 'so small' that he enveys all the Heisman attention, that this current QB is getting. Any way you slice it, Howard has hurt the UM program with his comments! Unfortunately, this is the same kind of 'crap', that was repeatedly, and unfairly, dumped on our former head coach so-called UM fans, and players. I hope Coach Hoke has enough 'backbone' to call out Howard on this. Hoke needs to set the record straight, and he needs to support is players, when they are unfairly attacked by 'outsiders'. I not only look forward to Howard's apology, but also, to Hoke's public defense, of DRob! (And others, as warranted.)

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

Now we know how it is that Lorraine thought Bo recommend the soon-to-be WCiMFH for the job when Lloyd Carr retired. Because his post above completely distorts what Desmond Howard was saying. He WAS NOT saying that D-rob was not worthy of winning a Heisman Trophy. He WAS saying that media hype has gotten out of hand, that it has placed far too much emphasis on the individual and far too little on the team. BTW, where were Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson on the Heisman "Watch" lists in 1992 and 1997, respectively? Would either have won the Heisman had their teams gone 6-5 in the regular season, had a losing record in the Big Ten, and been blown out against MSU and OSU? Nope. And that was his point. For those of us who can take meaning from the English language, it is hard to argue with Desmond. Good Night and Good Luck

Blu n Tpa

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

hbM First, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Don't go into tall buildings the rest of the day and don't stop for a few beers with the guys after work. This feeling will pass and the sun will come up in the EAST tomorrow. TiM Go Blue!


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Today is a first. I am agreeing with both Lorain and Tater!! Way to tell it.

David Vande Bunte

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

Usually I agree with Desmond Howard, but I think he is missing the boat when it comes to Denard Robinson. All of the "will he stay, will he go" stuff that Desmond is against was Michigan fans, not Denard. Denard is one of the most humble team oriented guys to come through Ann Arbor. Every interview I have ever seen him give, he has impressed me with his maturity. Instead of Desmond going after Denard, he should be going after those Michigan fans that put player ahead of team. Denard can't control what other people say about him. Its a fan problem, not a Denard problem.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

I think Howard's point was dead-on - I just wished he picked a different player as an example. Denard seems quite humble and he cannot control how the 24/7 sports cycle talks about his every move nor is he responsible for a crappy defense that allowed so many yards and points per game. Cam Newton was have been a more accurate description of the "me" generation that is playing now ... but it goes beyond sports as all kids of this generation think its all aboout "me" -- can you blame them when we, the older generations taught them to act this way? Too much self-esteem and rewads without success are what PARENTS have given the "Millenials" generation! Good job parents.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

lumberg, you're right on. Denard never asked for the spotlight but was shoved in front of cameras every week. He was at all times gracious and a team-first player.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

Desmond Howard's broader point is getting lost here. His broader point is that the focus on individuals -- focus that often leads to almost cult worship (my words, not his) -- is causing harm to the institution of college football. Some players who are the object of this attention do their best to deflect it. Denard Robinson is an example of this. He does not invite the attention other than the acknowledgement that as quarterback he has a unique leadership role on the team. And in fairness to Robinson, he never once publicly aired anything about indecision about staying or leaving Michigan. I think that's Howard's point -- others, not Robinson, but others made it all about Denard Robinson. Howard's quote -- not well crafted -- is really being addressed to those who try to make it all about one player. A better way to structure that would have been something like, "Look -- for those who tried make this all about Denard Robinson you have to understand that he won five games against nobody." The game of college football is in a bad state. Howard's broader point, lost in all this, is absolutely correct. When the game becomes about a handful of superstar players and catering to their wishes, then we've lost the heart of what once was college football."


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

Desmond Howard makes a very good point. The success of the program is dependant on more than one person. You may recall the media was promoting Denard for the Heisman Trophy after starting less than a half dozen games. Denard Robinson is a gifted athlete. He played hard and made great improvements in his play. Unfortunately the team has not beaten any strong opponents. Sports needs more people like Desmond Howard to speak out and put issues into perspective.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 10:59 a.m.

Desmond is just jealous. He sounds like school girl who can't stand the new pretty girl in class.


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

You mean the pretty new girl who can't win any big games? Wait, did I say something true? Yeah, I don't think Desmond is jealous of that. That pretty girl who can't win big games.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

What would Desmond Howard have to be jealous of? His accomplishments stand on their own quite well.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 10:25 a.m.

When a Heisman trophy winner and M Man speaks we should all listen very closely. I believe he was making a societal comment on how the "gamer" generation is selfish, self centered, and not very motivated.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 12:04 p.m.

Don't forget Super Bowl MVP as well. And a well-respected commentator for College Football on ESPN.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 5:39 a.m.

Indeed Terrin and 1st Down, I agree with your assessments. However, if that quote is true than maybe Desmond should've used more finesse in how he said it. Look, I think DR is a great talent, but he will not be an NFL QB, sorry if that rubs some people the wrong way. His stats were built mostly against weaker opponents, Tate had to come in and beat Illinois and almost brought us back against Iowa with his arm, which DR didn't show great success with against the good teams. I'm not making that up, that's a fact. If he wanted to transfer, I would've been fine with it, honestly. I think he's gonna have a hard time fending off Gardner and maybe Bellomy if he doesn't play well. That's what I like about Hoke, there are no guarantees, TiM, Go Blue!!!

1st Down

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 3:53 a.m.

One very important note here... Desmond was simply criticizing the system and the over extended media / blog / tweet coverage that goes on these days... he was NOT criticizing Denard, or calling Denard out in any way..... in fact, Denard hasnt done anything wrong and he and Desmond are friends. So before anyone jumps on this as Desmond criticizing Denard.... they need to look at the exact quote and realize that Desmond is simply sick of the pedestal that a lot of these athletes are put on today, above the team...and that is not cool... This is MIchigan...and we are getting back to Team, Team, Team now that the crazy playground run around system is gone....and emphasis is going to both sides of the ball..


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

"Use cheating, ineligible Buckeyes for your next analogy" Desmond didn't have several hours in his speech, so he just used 1 example. If he were to use cheating, ineligible Buckeyes it would have taken several hours or more to mention them all.

1st Down

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

Bluemarker you make a good point... however Id venture that recruiting sites and certain college football blogs are far more hype-filled than even ESPN... ESPN is sort of a dinosaur these days and other than coverage of TV and the blathering that goes with that...Id venture that ESPN is not really that influential as they used to be in generating hype. Desmond probably used a bad example and poor wording on this...he should have used Terrell Pryor as the worst kind of example. At least then, we would all agree with it . Word to Desmond: Use cheating, ineligible Buckeyes for your next analogy.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

"now that the crazy playground run around system is gone" ... :)

Blue Marker

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

Should Desmond be calling out the media when he's employed by the biggest hype machine there is?


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

Jealous much? Stay classy Desmond.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 3:16 a.m.

Some of you guys are revising history. Denard is undoubtedly a great runner, but only an OK passer. Perhaps he will get better. He made some terrible decisions in many close games that caused those games to be lost. He even said so himself. HIs average passing skills kept him on his feet. After RIch Rod was axed, Robinson was quiet on whether he was leaving Michigan or not. Further, his former high school coach said Denard expressed doubts about remaining at Michigan. Many sources were commenting on how it would be huge loss for Michigan to lose Denard. Like it would somehow damn the team. As such, I think it fine for Desmond to point out that a team is just that a team. The point he was making is that Michigan doesn't need Denard. Sure, it is great if he stays, but if he wanted to leave that was OK as well. A team rises above any one player. Denard had phenomenal overall statistics, but if you watched the games you'd know he suffered against good teams and it wasn't because Michigan's defense sucked (which of course it did). It was because he made some really poor passing decisions. He gained most of his yards on the ground against not very good opponents. In games against opponents like Wisconsin and Ohio, Denard's statistics weren't overly impressive. Desmond doesn't need to apologize because everything he said was true. I for one hope Denard learns to pass in the off season.

Jim Nazium

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 3:15 a.m.

Oh Desmond.... Not cool man, you don't EVER talk about your team like that , EVER!!! I agree with these posters, Denard is a Class Act, Super Talent and makes us fans really proud that he wears the Maize n Blue. I also seem to remember a certain someone striking a Heisman Pose after a Touchdown... calling attention to himself.... making himself look more important to the program maybe? Or was that taken out of context. C'mon, Desmond, quit drinking the kool-aid with Herb-Street, he must be out of his mind with his Ohio School in turmoil and he's probably got that punch bowl highly spiked. Back away from the bad influences, call your mama and explain yourself then come out like a man and admit what you said was ridiculous. Go BLUE!

Rob Pollard

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:51 a.m.

This is sad. Desmond's better than that. "You looked fantastic for five games against nobody." "You ain't won nothing in Ann Arbor." So the reason U of M only won seven games last year was b/c of Denard and not the defense? Did Desmond watch last season, or does he think QBs run for 200+ yards and throw for 200+ yards all the time? Denard Robinson is the most humble star athlete I can remember. It wasn't him who caused the frenzy of "will he return?" - it was the fans who realized what a special talent he is. If Desmond wants to address that, talk about the fans - not Denard. I await Desmond's apology - he's going to need to make one.

Blu n Tpa

Sat, May 28, 2011 : 11:10 a.m.

RP Understand your view but you left off important words in your second quote. It does change the tone of the sentence and adds something about Desmond's feelings toward DRob. You wrote, "You ain't won nothing in Ann Arbor". What you should have included was, "I'm not going to deny his talents, but you ain't won nothing in Ann Arbor, son." Hopefully you can see that by including DH's laudatory remark about DRob's talent he added a familial "son" at the end. Maybe he wants to share, from his own experiences, as father to son, the pitfalls that have to be overcome to reach true greatness. Winning a Championship. But that's just my take. TiM Go Blue!


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:50 a.m.

Denard Robinson is a class act. He has always been a team player and was never the one saying he was going to leave, that was media types (which includes one Desmond Howard). I am proud that Denard is a representative of the University of Michigan. Desmond is an alum and entitled to his opinion and I understand his point about "the team", but either it came out in the wrong way or he was taken out of context. He might want to tweet a quick apology or be a man and actually call Denard.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:22 a.m.

Desmond should have had more class than that. Denard has NEVER acted like he was more important than the team, and has always graciously deflected any individual compliments in favor of the team. Funny how the more the "Michigan Man" meme is used lately, the less class the people using it are showing. Throwing a humble kid like Denard under the bus when he has showed nothing but class in very trying circumstances is NOT what being a "Michigan Man" should be about. It's almost like Howard is trying to get Denard to transfer.

Blu n Tpa

Sun, May 29, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

I've never seen a higher vote for a post. EVER! Interesting.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

OMG!! I am agreeing wholeheartedly with Tater!!! Summed it up right, though. I would think the sense of entitlement that Desmond refers to is more along the lines of Terrell Pryor and the other 'Tat 5' as they've been called. Denard has been nothing but a good teammate and exciting. (Don't disagree that he needs a lot more seasoning to get superstar status, but Denard is absolutely NOT the problem here).

David Briegel

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

Tell it like it is Desmond! I hope these words of wisdom will motivate Denard and the team to achieve something really special. The Team, the Team, the TEAM!