Michigan’s hiring of Juwan Howard, a member of the Wolverines’ famed Fab Five, to coach the basketball team is a signal the band is about to get back together.
That’s what Jalen Rose, a Fab Five teammate, shared Thursday morning on ESPN’s “Get Up!”
Howard on Wednesday agreed to a five-year deal beginning at $2 million annually. Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel interviewed Howard on Tuesday and made the offer the next day, ending a national search that began May 13 when John Beilein, the program’s all-time winningest coach, left to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There has been discord among the Fab Five members, particularly Rose and Chris Webber, but Rose assured that with the hiring of Howard, it is time to move past disagreements and reunite the Fab Five at Michigan.
“People have gotten a chance to see us at our highest of heights, and our lowest of lows, and they’ve seen some discord,” Rose said Thursday on “Get Up!" “I’ve just got to acknowledge this on national television — those days are over, not seeing eye to eye. There will not be any disrespect to the program. There will not be any sideshows. There will not be any friction amongst the Fab Five. We’re about to all come together … and make sure we do what we gotta to do to put us back on top of the map.”
He was asked by ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter, a Michigan alum, if that means Howard’s hiring will bring Rose and Webber, who have had a difficult relationship, together.
“Yes, absolutely,” Rose said. “No doubt about it.”
Last week, Rose said on ESPN that Howard was the first Fab Five member to sign at Michigan in 1991 and was pivotal in bringing the group together. Apparently, he just might be doing the same all these years later.
Webber, the centerpiece of Michigan’s Fab Five, was back on campus last fall after being invited as a football honorary captain for the Penn State game in November by coach Jim Harbaugh. He was warmly received by the fans, and it seemed the first step toward Webber mending his strained relationship with Michigan.
He helped lead the Wolverines to the national title game in 1992 and 1993, but his ties to former booster Ed Martin led to scandal. And that led to the NCAA mandating a 10-year disassociation between Webber and Michigan, which ended 2013. The 1992 and 1993 Final Four banners were removed from the Crisler Center.
“It’s always meant a lot to me because I’ve always accepted love from the fans,” Webber told Rich Eisen last fall. “There’s no way I cannot represent Michigan because I am Michigan, just like the 15th man on the basketball team is Michigan, just like the student in the English department is Michigan.
“It’s been a complicated relationship, but anyone who’s gone to Michigan, it’s more than being an employee of the University of Michigan. Walking around Michigan all these years, being at Michigan all these years it’s been awesome. There’s nothing I’ve ever once shied away from, there’s nothing I’ve never not wanted to be a part of. This is not on me not accepting love. Coming back and being a part of it is just awesome. I hope this isn’t coming across any other way than grateful and humble, even overwhelming isn’t a good enough word. It was an awesome, awesome moment.”
There have been promising signs the last six months that a reunion of the Fab Five, that also includes Jimmy King and Ray Jackson, may be happening. Not only did Webber return last fall, but in February, coach Steve Fisher returned for the first time since 1997 for the 30th anniversary celebration of Michigan’s 1989 national championship team.
Beilein had made it clear he wanted all former players to be connected to the program and university and had been working to bridge the gap between Webber and Michigan. He also was instrumental bringing Fisher back to the Crisler Center for the celebration.
Rose told The Detroit News in April that it was important for the Michigan basketball program to finally make the bold move to embrace the Fab Five.
“We’ve just got to stop being fingers and start being a fist and take back over like we're supposed to. To me, that's what's missing,” Rose said. “I think when everybody sees that your family is functioning properly, I think that just helps the program. Look at all of the top programs. You see their former players on the coaching staff, calling the games on radio, calling the games on TV, sitting courtside at the games.
“That's what the best programs do, and I think we have that potential and I know we can. Now it's just a matter of buying in and everybody doing it.”
King told The Detroit News last week that Howard's hiring would help that pursuit and would be a galvanizing force.
"Objectively looking at it, that's another reason to really put that bad blood that's really been put behind us six years ago in 2013 when the ban was off," King said. "I think this is a natural progression to what it should be."
The relationship between Rose and Webber has been complicated, but Rose said on “Get Up!” that they will push that aside because it will be important for Howard to have a cohesive group as he embarks on his Michigan coaching career.
“It squashes any drama or any beef because we’re not going to bring that to Ann Arbor’s campus with Juwan Howard as our head coach,” Rose said. “The one thing we both know, his success turning around the University of Michigan is first and foremost about him and about the players he’s going to influence. Then it’s about us being there to support him. Not being drama. Not being splintered. Not giving any indication of dysfunction.
"We’re going to move as a family and we’re going to do what we can to build on what John Beilein has helped establish in Ann Arbor.”