Desmond Howard made a diving catch in the back of the endzone to help beat Notre Dame in 1991. That year, he won the Heisman Trophy and on Saturday he’ll be recognized before the first night game in Michigan Stadium history, having been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The opponent. The event. Everything seems perfect for Howard.

He still won’t say what Michigan has in store.

The Michigan Daily: Considering your history within the Notre Dame rivalry, how exciting is it to be honored during a Michigan-Notre Dame game?

Desmond Howard: Obviously Notre Dame, that team was a thorn in our side when we were here. I knew, in that (1991) game we played here, there was no way I was going to walk off that field in defeat. So it’s a rivalry that’s rich in tradition and respect. Even if you hate all of them during the game, you respect what they brought to the field. You knew you were about to play one of the top programs in the country.

TMD: You said on ESPN’s College GameDay show that you thought Michigan would win eight games this season. Can you explain your pick?

Howard As an alum and as a former player, I would hope it’s more than eight games. I would be pleasantly surprised if it is.

Brady Hoke, he’s the right fit. Some people don’t understand. Some people do and some people don’t. And I think when you look for coaches you look for the right fit. Dave Brandon, the athletic director, did a fantastic job searching high and low for the guy who would be the right fit.

I’m not only impressed with what Brady Hoke has done, but what his staff has done. Al Borges, I think he’s a brilliant offensive mind. And Greg Mattison, the former defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, was quoted as saying there was only one college job he would leave the NFL for, and it was this one — Michigan.

When you have coaches with that type of passion coaching your young men, I think you’ll get a good product on the field.

TMD: You mentioned ‘fit,’ what have you seen out of the coaches that you think makes them a good fit?

Howard: As far as what I saw in not even three complete quarters of football against Western Michigan? I mean, you haven’t even seen these guys play a complete game yet. But I did like what I saw. I enjoyed it. It seems like — even seeing Denard (Robinson) under center was pretty refreshing for me.

TMD: Did you ever think you’d see the day Michigan played a night game at the Big House?

Howard: To be honest with you, I’m probably like most people — didn’t really cross my mind. I’m glad that it crossed Dave’s mind.

One of my favorite games was actually in South Bend, a night game. It was the 1990 game. And we lost that game in South Bend, on some fluke plays. And I scored two touchdowns. One of the touchdowns I scored when I went the endzone, I promise if you when you look at the footage, when I went into the endzone I disappeared into a sea of people. I mean it was standing room only.

It was unbelievable. That atmosphere was like electric. And It was one of my favorite regular season games, even though we didn’t win, just because of the atmosphere.

TMD: What do you expect the atmohspere to be like Saturday night?

Howard: Even better than it was in 1990 in South Bend. Even better. Without a doubt.

TMD: You’ve said previously you have a good relationship with Denard Robinson. Do you two still stay in touch?

Howard: You come across all types of kids in my profession. And there’s some kids you root for. Some guys you just want to do well because they seem like such a great person. Denard is that guy. When I met Denard, that’s how I felt about him. Just wanted him to do well.

TMD: How much do you get approached about the Heisman pose you struck in 1991?

Howard: Oh wow, you can’t measure it. It’s the No. 1 thing people ask when they see me. ‘Oh, wow, do the Heisman pose.’

It just bothers me.

I don’t do it anymore because everywhere I go people ask me to do it. And if I do it, then it cheapens that moment. So I just refuse to do it now. And just leave it for those who experienced it in Ann Arbor.

TMD: You said in your book you were still considering whether you should do the pose while you were returning the punt?

Howard: Correct. Yeah. I had a couple of seconds to think about it. I mean, once I saw that punter, I was like, ‘Okay, what am I going to do when I get to the endzone.’

TMD: Do you feel that pose changed your life, looking back at it?

Howard: Yeah, definitely. Changed my life. Had I not struck the pose — chances are, I would’ve still won the Heisman, I think still. Because it wasn’t a close vote. But would people still remember or recognize me for a signature moment?

When you do something like that — that signature moment — that kind of signifies in their mind, ‘Yeah, he did win that trophy.’

TMD: Denard has two years left at Michigan. You won the Heisman, do you think he can win that award?

Howard: Yeah, yeah. There’s no secret. Denard is gifted. Everyone in the country who follows football knows Denard is gifted. But it takes more than that to achieve what Charles (Woodson) and I achieved.

He has the talent. There’s no doubt about that. If you ask any analyst in the country, ‘Who’s your top-3 explosive players in college football?’ If Denard’s not on that list, then you kind of have to question their credibility.

It doesn’t get much better than Denard Robinson in college football. It just doesn’t.

TMD: Is it any more special that you’re being recognized during Michigan’s first-ever night game?

Howard: Yeah it really is. And I think once you see what Dave Brandon and the University of Michigan have in store, then you’re going to understand it’s what we call ‘The Michigan Difference.’

TMD: Dave Brandon said the other day your number probably won’t be retired. Have you come to terms with that fact? Would you like for it to be retired?

Howard: I think that what they do have in store (for Saturday), it’ll show you why we’re Michigan. It’s, ‘The Michigan Difference.’ So stay tuned. To be honest with you, there’s two sides. As a player, you feel as though retiring your number is the biggest honor. But when you do what I do, and you see guy’s numbers who are retired who haven’t accomplished half of what you’ve accomplished, it’s like it kind of cheapens it. Like, ‘Everyone’s retiring numbers now.’

So I think they’re doing something that you’ll be really surprised with and pleased with.

TMD: We’re going to be pleased with it. Are you going to be pleased with it?

Howard: Watch my reaction.

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