"Even today I can envision myself in my room, it hit me really hard," Manuel said. "I had aspirations and dreams as a kid to play in the NFL. It wasn't going to happen. It all hit me in a wave.
"My life experience really helped me as I got into athletic administration. I want to help our student athletes think about what happens when athletics end. I hope it doesn't end like it did for me, but I want them to hear from me that you need to start thinking about it now. I was fortunate. I had people around that really helped me."
One was Schembechler.
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"When I sat down with him, he asked me a question and I immediately started crying. He said, 'Warde, what's most important is we get you taken care of physically and do what we promised your parents, get you a degree from Michigan.' The talk turned about securing a job after graduation. It was a special moment in my life because he wasn't angry, he showed no disappointment. He was helpful at a moment when I was so frustrated and sad. It was like a father to a son and not a coach to a player."
Manuel would get into sports administration, climbed the ladder at one of the most powerful programs in the nation. He met his future wife, Chrislan Fuller, while they both pursued graduate degrees at Michigan. She was refereeing a volleyball game between the law school and business school and, to her frustration, he kept blocking her vision. The plan worked.
"She's still a Wolverine fan," Manuel said. "But this game, she's definitely with the Huskies."
Rising to associate AD at Michigan, Manuel handled the business aspects of the football program. Essentially working between then-coach Lloyd Carr and then-AD Bill Martin, Manuel handled scheduling, budgets, travel, the bowl arrangements.
"What I learned at Michigan is my base for how I do things," Manuel said.
Although he didn't schedule the Michigan-UConn game and he was on the other side of scheduling the Buffalo game, Manuel will essentially be following his life's path the next two weeks. Will it be emotional?
"A little bit of a tug," Manuel said. "This is a special time in that there are friends at both places, some deep relationships with people who still work there. There's a deep love for me for both institutions in different ways. The irony is there. My first game as AD at Buffalo was against UConn.
"While I've looked forward to it for a long time, what's really special is to have Michigan at Rentschler for our team and for our fans."
Since 2009 Connecticut has looked forward to playing Michigan at the Rent. After the Huskies played the 2010 opener at the Big House, Michigan would have loved to have played this game at MetLife Stadium. Manuel held tight. How tight?
"They wanted to have a conversation about it and we did," Manuel said.
'It's sort of water under the bridge now. We chose to keep it here. I think they'll be impressed with Rentschler and our fans. I think our fans will respond Saturday night. The team will, too."
That's what a Michigan Man knows, team, team, team. At the same time, as Bo taught him, trust your eyes. Warde Manuel has some tough decisions ahead.