By: Will Burchfield
Jim Harbaugh took college football recruiting to a new level last summer – and likely new locations.
Michigan held 38 satellite camps over the month of June, setting up shop in such locations as Las Vegas, Los Angeles and, yes, American Samoa. But if a new NCAA proposal goes through, the parade will be cut short.
The proposal would limit programs to at most ten camps per summer, all of which would have to take place on the campuses of NCAA schools. The majority of Michigan’s camps last summer were held at high schools.
Harbaugh is bummed about the potential restrictions, which would go into effect for the 2017-18 school year, but feels they could be good for the sport.
“That would take away a lot of fun. We did close to 50 last year and it was a lot of fun but heck, if every school is doing ten, that would probably be more than what was done last year so possibly it’s a really good thing and everybody carries the water,” he said.
Harbaugh took to last summer’s recruiting tour with vigor and style, running from camp to camp in his distinctive outfit: a football jersey tucked into khaki pants. His cross-country crusade helped him reel in recruits well outside Michigan’s normal geographical reach.
But that wasn’t what mattered to him most.
“The main thing is that football’s being spread around the country and youngsters are getting good coaching and have opportunities to show what they can do. (The proposal) potentially has a chance to be really good so I can’t say that that’s a negative. The only negative is that we’ll have less fun,” Harbaugh laughed.
He hopes other programs will follow Michigan’s lead.
“If everybody did ten then that would be phenomenal. That would be phenomenal for the youngsters that are being introduced to football or reintroduced to football at the high school level,” said Harbaugh, a born spokesperson for the sport.
“What we found last year (when) we went around the country was that football is really strong in America,” he continued. “Youngsters really like football and they want to play it and it does a lot for them, physically, mentally, just teaches them how to do so many things, including competing and going out and doing your best.”
As a coach, and a highly visible one at that, Harbaugh knows he plays in important role in the growth of the game and the development of its player pool.
“You need coaching, you need time on task with football, you get better at football by playing football and more is more, not less is more,” he said. “So if everybody’s doing ten, there’s a chance the sum will be more (than what it was last year.)
“Look at the bright side: less fun for us, but more coaching for the guys out there that want to play football.”