Sports world debates punishment for Howard

The dilemma facing the University of Michigan leadership is the same question that dominated the sports talk world on Monday.

What should the punishment be for Michigan basketball coach Juwan Howard after he started a post-game brawl Sunday by taking a swing at a Wisconsin assistant?

The vast majority of fans agree that Howard, the former Fab Five star at Michigan who is now in his third season leading the program, should at least receive some punishment. But that’s where the agreement ends.

Immediately after the scuffle, the word “fired” began trending on Twitter with many calling for Howard’s time at Michigan to end and others pushing back against the harsh punishment. 

“He should be fired by Michigan. Can’t have a head coach start a postgame brawl,” Cleveland-based reporter Daryl Ruiter tweeted.

“Some of y’all calling for Juwan Howard to be fired is crazy as hell,” ESPN’s Damien Woody posted on Twitter. “We’ve seen much worse incidents in [college basketball] but sure let’s go with that.”

Woody Hayes’ name was also trending, with some comparing Howard’s swipe to the punch that the Ohio State football coaching legend threw at a Clemson player in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Hayes was fired the following day. 

“The more I see the video, the more disturbing it is. This is why Woody Hayes was fired,” CBS Sports’ Seth Davis tweeted. “Juwan Howard needs to be suspended for multiple games.”

Juwan Howard goes full Woody Hayes. No room for that in coaching. Like Hayes, he should be fired,” NBC’s Joe Scarborough posted. 

Howard was upset with a timeout that Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard took late in the game, a 77-63 Badgers victory. Video and audio of the post-game exchange reveals that Gard stepped in front of Howard and put his hands on him after the Michigan coach appeared to be walking by without offering a handshake. Howard then told Gard to not touch him and put his finger in Gard’s face. A few seconds later, Howard took a swing at the Wisconsin assistant, which led to a larger brawl, including several players on both teams. 

“Someone touched me, and I think it was very uncalled for, for them to touch me, as we were verbalizing and communicating with one another. That’s what escalated it,” Howard said after the game.

Overall, the most common opinion among sports talk folk is that Howard should be suspended for the remainder of the regular season but that he should not lose his job. 

“I think that Juwan Howard should be suspended for the rest of the season, including the regular season and tournament play,” ESPN’s Jay Williams said. “I don’t think he should lose his job. I think he should be suspended for the rest of the season.”

“I’m not going to go that far,” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said in response to whether Howard should be fired. “I’ve got too much respect for Juwan Howard and the man and the player and the coach that he has been. I’ve got a lot of love for this brother, and it’s going to be very difficult for me to go to that point. But he should be suspended immediately, and it should be for the rest of the season. He should not be allowed to coach another game this season.”

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