Today is a really good day to wish a Happy Birthday to two special Wolverines named Jim Hackett and Warde Manual. This is the first time that I have dedicated one post to two men, but I just had to do it this way today. You see, May 22nd is the first, and only, day on the calendar that has ever given Michigan two “athletic directors.” I found this fact to be quite interesting so I had to share it with everyone today.
According to the 1976 Michigan Football Media Guide, James “Jim” Hackett was born on this day in Ohio. He grew up in London, Ohio and became a pretty good football player at London High School. His father (Dr. William C. Hackett) was an All-American at Ohio State in 1944. So, Jim decided to step out of his dad’s shadow and create his own identify at Michigan. It was a pretty bold move for young Hackett, but it worked out just fine.
Jim Hackett did not become a “star” at Michigan. He was listed as a Linebacker on the Michigan Football Rosters in 1973 and 1974. He did not earn any starts, or letters, in his first two seasons. Hackett switched to Center in 1975, but still remained in a back-up role. He did not earn a letter until his senior season in 1976.
Although Hackett wasn’t good enough to earn lots of starts and fame as a player, he was smart enough to take notes on Bo Schembechler’s leadership and team-building skills. He applied what he learned on Bo’s teams and enjoyed a spectacular career in business.
Of course, Jim Hackett was lured out of retirement in October 2014 by new Michigan President Mark Schlissel to fix the “Dave Brandon mess.” More importantly, he was tasked with the responsibility of finding Michigan’s next football coach and athletic director. I know that Bo was very proud of “Jimmy” Hackett, but I am certain that he would have been thrilled with the way he went after Jim Harbaugh and brought him back to Ann Arbor. It was one of the best things to happen to Michigan Football in the last ten years!
Although Jim Hackett’s title was “interim” Athletic Director at Michigan, his impact was huge. He did a lot for his beloved alma mater in a very short time and set things up for Warde “Manual.
Warde Manual was born on this date in New Orleans, Louisiana. He became an outstanding athlete at Brother Martin High School. He starred in football and track and field. When Bo Schembechler came calling, Warde accepted a scholarship to play football in the State of Michigan. Wow, was Bo a salesman or what?
Warde Manual was listed as a defensive tackle on the 1986 Michigan Football Roster. However, the only starts that he is credited with (five) took place as an outside linebacker in 1987. The coaches also tried Warde at offensive tackle in spring drills one year, but he eventually went back to defensive tackle. Warde played well enough, and often enough, to earn varsity letters in 1987 and 1988. Unfortunately, his career was cut short because of a neck injury in 1989.
Like Jim Hackett, Warde Manual probably wasn’t playing as much as he wanted to, but he was always paying attention! He took the lessons he learned from Bo and charted a very successful career in athletic administration. Manual was announced at the twelfth athletic director in Michigan history in January 2016.
So, in addition to be the first two athletic directors with the same birthday, Jim Hackett and Warde Manual share a few other Michigan Football “firsts.” Here they are:
- Jim Hackett was on the first Michigan football team to play Colorado in 1974. Michigan won 31-0.
- Hackett also was on the first Michigan team to play with the striped football in 1975.
- Jim Hackett was on the first Michigan Football team to play in front of one million people in one season in 1975.
- Warde Manual was on the first Michigan football team to play games against Florida State, Hawaii and Arizona State in 1986
- Manual was also on the first Michigan team to play games against Long Beach State and Alabama in 1987.
So, Jim Hackett and Warde Manual share a birthday and they occupied/occupy the same office in the Michigan Athletic Department. Hackett had a BIG impact on the department in a relatively short time. It is very likely that Manual will have a BIG impact on Michigan athletics over a much longer period of time. Both men have become champions in life and great “Michigan Men” – just like Bo hoped they would!
I hope that Jim Hackett and Warde Manual have great birthday celebrations today! I also hope that Jim Hackett has a great run at Ford Motor Company since he was named CEO this morning. Mr. Hackett has done great things wherever he has gone. However, he does appear to be failing at being retired! Congratulations Mr. Hackett and Go Blue!