In Jim Harbaugh’s first recruiting cycle he was made public enemy number one, mainly by the SEC, when he announced his “Swarm Tour.” This tour would include stops in Alabama, Florida, Texas and California; the breeding ground for elite talent.
As one would imagine, this would ruffle some feathers. It’s not that Harbaugh was leaving the state of Michigan to coach players in camp, it was the fact that Harbaugh had the onions to step on the big bad SEC’s turf.
The first time I heard the news about the camps, I was curious. After all, this was a chance for Michigan to stand out from other programs in the eyes of prospects.
Then I began to think. The more and more I thought about it, it just felt like an episode of Breaking Bad. I was waiting for Saban to take out Drevno to “send a message.”
“This is the SEC’s turf.”
Harbaugh invaded the SEC’s territory and started selling his product right in front of former National Champion’s eyes. He was able to pick up six recruits from the state of Florida because of the satellite camps, so business was boomin’ to say the least. That stuff doesn’t fly below the Mason-Dixon Line.
For Harbaugh’s next trick, he announced shortly after the Citrus Bowl win over Florida that the Wolverines were taking their show on the road…to Florida. Michigan chose the IMG Academy to hold their spring practices.
Needless to say, this made some coaches furious. It also made SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey upset because of concerns of the well being of players. Trips to Detroit Tiger’s games, the beach and golfing in between practices sounds rough. Ban it. Everywhere. *yawn*
We’re at the point where we can see through the BS, yes? This is strictly a “but mom! Jim is trying to play with my toys and I don’t want him to!”
Michigan is, quite literally, on the doorstep of SEC country by making headlines that blue-chippers can see almost daily. The conference as a whole brings in some of the most elite talent in the country, so it does make sense that they would be upset about potentially losing out on that talent to schools from the north.
But let’s think about what we know right now.
We saw what the open practice was like and how it was received. We saw the team take individual reps and practice as a team. We saw coaches doing their old job and some learning their new positions. Hell, we even saw an Ohio State fan at the IMG practices.
What we haven’t seen is lack of appreciation or understanding — from the players and coaches — as to why Michigan was actually in Florida…or reasons why the Wolverines shouldn’t be able to return to the state next year if they wanted to go back. They essentially went on a vacation and tossed around the pigskin. A getaway trip for the football team to focus on just football and team bonding. What if Michigan went to a high school in northern Arizona? Not a single soul would care at all. Michigan isn’t Miami (FL) with Jimmy Johnson at the helm; far from it. Harbaugh isn’t running a glorified prison team, he took his team to the beach so they didn’t freeze during their practices. Punishable by death from a firing squad according to the SEC faithful, apparently.
No players were disciplined, no story was made to make the Wolverines ACTUALLY look as terrible as they’ve been painted to be. This is the biggest non-story of the entire offseason. But hey, we have to write about something, right? Tennessee’s issues were swept under the rug by the media for the most part. Michigan is enjoying the Florida sun and engaging with fans? OUTRAGE. Fifteen articles a day on the subject.
Some look at it as a glorified recruiting trip. Others look at it as a chance to unwind; a chance to get away from a snowstorm in Ann Arbor in exchange for gorgeous and sunny days.
Next time you’d like to take a family vacation, be sure you ask every single coworker in your office because you don’t want to step on any toes by going to their favorite salt water taffy store. That’s essentially what this is. Michigan found a loophole, exploited it and will likely gain from it. There is nothing the SEC can do.