Ann Arbor, Michigan– On January 29th, Ward Manuel was officially named the 13th Director of Athletics at Michigan and has been busy since then.
How would you like to be Jim Harbaugh’s boss?
Yes, he does have one and Manuel was selected for the job replacing interim AD Jim Hackett because they saw his potential to move the athletic department in the right direction and away from the past under Dave Brandon. He learned many life long values while playing under Bo Schembechler from 1986-1989 when it comes to work ethic and what it means to be part of a team. Before coming back to his alma matter, Manuel worked for the last four years with some unique head coach personalities at Connecticut like Jim Calhoun and Geno Ariemma. He quickly learned how to conduct business successfully when in the limelight that will certainly contribute to his success in Ann Arbor. He learned not to let outside perceptions mold his opinions regarding the staff there.
He spoke to the media last Friday afternoon and addressed several questions relating to his role and goals while working with a personality like Coach Harbaugh and the opportunity to be back at Michigan. He said, “If you’re a team, then there will be times when you’ll have to step up to the podium and address things, and there will be times where Coach Harbaugh and the other coaches will be up front. I’ve never been concerned with who’s in the back. As long as we are all in the same car moving forward, I’m good with it.”
Manuel will have his own specific vision for the direction of the department, but also knows the importance of building a solid foundation, developing strong relationships, and using one of the biggest annual operating budgets in the NCAA to achieve his goals. He is not pushy, but also not a pushover. If needed, he will remind Coach Harbaugh of the limits as head coach when you are as high profile as him with every move on and off the field that’s being analyzed under a microscope.
Spring is all about March Madness, Opening Day, The Masters…but then came Coach Harbaugh making college football being talked about more often at this time of the year. He is moving forward with his summer plans scheduling summer tour stops in several southern states looking at other creative ways to promote the program and football to the American youth.
While he’s busy doing this, the NCAA will vote this month on a proposal brought forward by the ACC and SEC to ban “satellite camps” more than 50 miles away from campus. This is a direct hit at Coach Harbaugh and Michigan for what he has done the last 12 months over his first season.
Warde’s stance on the topic is he feels no restrictions should be implemented on “satellite camps” and looks at the situation as creating more opportunities for athletes. He understands and appreciates Coach Harbaugh not being afraid to speak his mind and is fine with being in the spotlight with his past experience.
There may come a time in the near future that new NCAA rules prevent Coach Harbaugh and staff to leave Michigan during the summer months for “satellite camps”, but he will find other creative ideas that Manuel and the athletic department will back up, if it is in the best interest of Michigan and the football program’s goal to get back on top of the mountain.