The 2022 college football season is approaching, and this year everything seems to be in order after the craziness of last year. And Desmond Howard of ESPN will be starring in all of this.
Not many people have achieved such success before, during and after professional football as Desmond Howard. The former Michigan star was a Heisman Trophy winner in college, the Super Bowl MVP in the NFL, and is now one of the leading college football analysts on ESPN, as well as one of the co-hosts on College GameDay.
We met with Desmond to discuss the new college football season, his hopes for his beloved Michigan Wolverines team, his recent partnership with Modelo, his selection for the college football playoffs, and his career on ESPN College GameDay.
This interview with Desmond Howard was made possible by Modelo:
TheSpun: You teamed up with Modelo for their Fighting Spirit campaign. What prompted you to join them now?
Desmond Howard: We campaigned together last year and they helped me celebrate the 30th anniversary of the punt return against Ohio State, which obviously led to a deal for me to win the Heisman.
The partnership went so well that we decided to renew it. This is a celebration of the fans. I appreciate the fans and what they bring to college football — not only to the game, but also to College GameDay. So I really appreciate the fans, and we will try to find the best “regular fan” — regular fan No. 1, reward him with a six-figure salary and give them the opportunity to fly to the national championship game in Los Angeles. I think it will be a wonderful campaign. We had a great time last year and I’m looking forward to meeting all the great fans.
College football is just around the corner. Get the games, get the fans — who bring such unique energy — and Modelo is the “fighting spirit”, so nothing says it like the fans.
TheSpun: The first week of the 2022 college football season is almost here. What games are you most looking forward to in September?
JH: I’m glad you said this in September because it gives me a wide range of games. We have some great games in the beginning. What has been missing for some time is not having these big games early. Now we have more and more of them, and I am very grateful for that. When I was in college, that’s what we did. Our schedule outside of conferences was against the teams you might find out. We played at Notre Dame, UCLA, Maryland, Boston College. We played schools that you would recognize, so it’s nice to see some of these outstanding matches.
Obviously, the biggest monster game is Notre Dame vs. Ohio State in Columbus. It’s going to be a huge match, not only because of their brands, but also because they don’t play often. They don’t see each other on the grid that often, so it’s a monster match-up.
[Then we have] Alabama going to Austin, Texas to fight the Longhorns. You have a former coach from Alabama, Steve Sarkisian, now he’s in charge there (in Texas), and we’ll see if the grasshopper can snatch a pebble from the owner. It will be good.
But I’m here in Florida, and there’s so much hype and excitement around (Miami University) Canes. They have Mario Cristobal, he’s a local guy, they love him here, and they opened a checkbook to give him a great coaching staff. They have three guys on staff with head coaching experience. In addition, they received Josh Gattis, the head coach at Michigan, who received the Assistant Coach of the Year award a year ago. Hall of Fame member Jason Taylor. Ed Reed is part of their program. You go to Canes training and it’s like who’s who in football. They’ll go to College Station and fight Texas A&M-it’s a big game.
We can talk about these three for hours.
TheSpun: How will Michigan take the next step in 2022, and how do you predict they will?
JH: As an analyst, you would think that Michigan would be in a position where you would want to wait and see just because they lost so much. You are not taking steps just because of (what you did last year). You have to keep things intact, and they couldn’t keep much intact.
Josh Gattis, he got these bags from the Miami boosters… he was able to take advantage of it. He moved from Ann Arbor to Coral Gables. They also lost (Mike) McDonald, the defensive coordinator. He came back to Baltimore to be the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, which is a step forward, so you can’t blame him for that.
They lost both coordinators, three first-round defensive players… so you can’t just say that just because they made the playoffs last year, they’re going to take the next step. Now you need to look for addition by subtraction when you look at the big picture.
I am delighted with them. They look good on offense, but defense will be in question, and we’ll see how they replace all the talent in defense that they lost.