DeBord doesn't want to talk about Michigan memories

Updated: August 28, 2003, 5:34 PM ET

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Mike DeBord has fond memories from his time at Michigan.

Central Michigan's coach just does not want to talk about them.

Everywhere DeBord has been this week, he's been asked what he thinks it will be like to be on the visitors' sideline at Michigan Stadium when No. 4 Michigan hosts the Chippewas on Saturday.

"It's a great question, but I'm just not going to get into it," DeBord said, sounding a bit agitated. "I'm not reflecting on my past experience there. I could get emotional and tell you all kinds of stories, but I won't do it because it's about Central Michigan playing Michigan. It's not about me playing Michigan."

DeBord spent eight seasons as a Michigan assistant, including the national championship year in 1997 when he was offensive coordinator. He was hired as a head coach for the first time three years ago at Central Michigan.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr will lead the Wolverines for the 100th time Saturday, and he will face a former assistant for the first time.

"I love Mike DeBord like a brother," Carr said. "As a coach, he's got a great future in the profession and I know that he's going to be bringing his best team here."

Central Michigan was 4-8 last year, 3-8 the season before and 2-9 in 2000.

Since winning the Mid-American Conference title in 1994 under Dick Flynn, the Chippewas' lone winning season was 1998.

Michigan, which will play Central Michigan for first time since 1931 and second time ever, is 16-0 against MAC teams.

But DeBord's goals are high.

"Our mission is to win because we're not interested in moral victories," DeBord said. "Our biggest challenge is to just focus on the game between the white lines, not at the huge crowd around us. We've played at Michigan State, Boston College and Indiana, so playing in big places is not new for us."

Michigan offensive tackle Tony Pape said he's excited about playing against DeBord, who he said called him almost every day while recruiting him out of Illinois.

"He is a great guy and a good friend," Pape said. "I am excited to compete against him.

"He is a perfectionist. He wants things done the right way. I am sure he has carried that over to his Central Michigan team. We are expecting to play a great team."

The quarterbacks could not be much different in terms of experience.

Michigan's John Navarre, who has started 29 games, will join Rick Leach as the only quarterbacks in school history to start four seasons. Central Michigan's Jeff Perry, whose career has been set back by injuries, will take his first snap since he was a high school standout in California in 1999.

Navarre started his first game three years ago when Drew Henson was sidelined with an injury. In 2001, his first full year as a starter, Navarre was criticized for playing poorly in losses against Washington, Michigan State and Ohio State during the regular season.

Navarre silenced most of his critics last season when he threw for 21 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions.

"There is not going to be an issue that John Navarre is going to face in the rest of his life that he's not going to be able to deal with," Carr said. "That's the value of this game and intercollegiate athletics.

"You can take the adversity, the criticism and all the things that are thrown at you and become a stronger person because of it. John could not have learned that in the classroom. So, I think he'll look back on his four years and he'll say, 'That's when I grew up. 'That's when I became a man."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index