Never afraid to offer his opinion, former Wolverine great and current ESPN College GameDay analyst Desmond Howard spoke to TheWolverine.com this week about his new book and a myriad of hot-button topics concerning the Maize and Blue ...
Howard's book - "I Wore 21: The Legend Of Desmond Howard" - hits bookshelves Sept. 10 to coincide with the Michigan-Notre Dame night game at The Big House.
"I'm very excited for the release," he said. "I think it's going to be a collector's item.
"This is a book that celebrates my career at the University of Michigan. Obviously it talks about the path I took to get to Michigan and then it touches upon life after Michigan too, but the bulk of it is my career at the University of Michigan and the people who were instrumental in my development, not only as a football player but as a student-athlete.
"There are a lot of pictures. A lot of stories and quotes from people of all walks of life. It will really surprise the readers to see who were some of the people who I've come across in my life, who know me pretty well, and the things they have to say about me."
Here is Howard on topics related to Michigan football in 2011.
On what he wants to see out of U-M in week one: "I want to see how physical they are up front. I think that's what has jumped out at me the past three years - the physicality on both lines of scrimmage has been missing. That's Michigan football. I don't care if it's running the ball, throwing the ball, defending the run, defending the pass - up front we're always physical and that's what I want to see."
On his expectations for Michigan this season: "I think they should win eight or nine games. They have the players to get it done.
"As a former player, I set the expectations pretty high. I don't even want to set the bar as low as eight or nine wins unless that's what it takes to win the Big Ten. At the end of the day, as a player, your goal is always to win the Big Ten. I don't think they're thinking, 'We just want to win eight games and that will be good enough for us.' I don't think there is a team on their schedule they're looking at and saying, 'We can't beat them.'
"They should aim for winning the Big Ten championship."
On whether this is the year Michigan beats Ohio State: "I felt with the hiring of Brady Hoke, I felt things were starting to even out a little bit in our rivalry with them. That's before any of this stuff happened with Jim Tressel resigning.
"Brady brought more of a Michigan mentality. He's going to coach these players the way Michigan players should be coached and that's going to give them a better chance to compete against Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State - all the best teams in the conference."
On what it means to coach Michigan the way it's meant to be coached: "Physicality. A tougher brand of football. Discipline. Accountability. Things that were lacking over the past three seasons. And then when he brought in his staff - when he brought in Greg Mattison as his defensive coordinator from the Baltimore Ravens I knew Brady was serious about this.
"Whether Tressel was there or not, I didn't care. I was concerned with who was coaching at the University of Michigan because having the right guys in place is what will give us a chance to compete against the best, not what's going on in Columbus or East Lansing."
On U-M's countdown clocks to the Michigan State and Ohio State contests: "Because of what has transpired recently, that's maybe prompted those things. You don't have a countdown clock when you're beating teams. We didn't have them when I was there, but we never lost to Ohio State."
On the decision to redshirt (suspend) senior receiver Darryl Stonum for 2011 after his second DUI arrest: "I back the decisions that are made by the coaches when it comes to discipline. I thought they took this case very seriously and then you flip the script and you look at the way Brian Kelly handled the Michael Floyd situation, who's had three alcohol-related incidents and yet, he's lining up Sept. 3 and Sept. 10 against Michigan. I never thought I would see Notre Dame sacrifice so much to win football games.
"We'll see how much people talk about that when the game gets closer. There hasn't been a ton of talk about it yet, which surprises me. If it's in the script, I'll definitely talk about it. I have an opinion on it. If that hurts somebody's feelings, so be it."
On whether Michigan should use No. 21 like it has used No. 1 and will use No. 2, as jerseys that must be earned: "You should ask Brady about that. I just got inducted to the Hall of Fame. I have no idea why I'm not getting the same treatment. [Editor's Note: he said this tongue-in-cheek].
"Maybe they may have something different in store for No. 21. It may not even be available for them to earn."