Summer of Harbaugh


Every sports site on the internet is abuzz Wednesday after Michigan Man Jim Harbaugh gave a typically Harbaughian interview to professional bloviater Colin Cowherd. Odds are you’ve read the recap or heard the clip, but if not, here it is:

Summer of Harbaugh has us all focusing on Michigan football, if nothing else. From his shirtless workouts with participants of his satellite camps, to his sometimes stream-of-consciousness Twitterings, Jim Harbaugh has forced himself into the conversation with Urban Meyer and Nick Saban.

To wit, Cowherd goes into ultra-defensive mode, saying: “If I’m you’re and 18-year-old kid and just heard Jim Harbaugh on my show, I’m choosing Urban Meyer and Ohio State.”

Ha, 18-year-olds listening to The Herd. That’s a good one!

But more to the point, Harbaugh is in direct competition with Meyer for Big Ten supremacy, and thus recruits. Harbaugh’s satellite camp, which ruffled feathers in the SEC, put him in direct competition with that conference’s coaches, too.

Michigan football has never been so much in the national spotlight since — dare I say it? — early into the Rich Rodriguez era.

Ardent Wolverines might scoff at the notion, but Rodriguez’s arrival in Ann Arbor brought with it national attention and heavy scrutiny — much of the latter was internal.

The key difference is Harbaugh is a Michigan Man, a former player of Bo Schemblecher’s, and thus, part of the family.

Harbaugh is a great coach, having led San Francisco to a Super Bowl and Stanford to an Orange Bowl. Both were laughingstocks in their respective conference/division not long before his arrival.

I’m a proponent of the satellite camp concept, and drawing the ire of Colin Cowherd is hardly worthy derision.

But Summer of Harbaugh has had its share of moments that would draw considerably more negative reaction coming from someone without the tacit Schembechler seal of approval.

There’s the inane, like taking to Twitter to bicker with a portion of the University of Michigan student body over a movie that has stupidly become yet another source of political dogma.

And the considerably more serious: defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins claiming Harbaugh and Michigan staff forced his retirement. Pipkins is seeking transfer, and Harbaugh vehemently denies the allegation. He said this week via the Detroit Free Press, prior to throwing at the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game:

“When it comes to the health and safety of the players, that argument trumps all other arguments.”

There is, as of yet, no reason to discount Harbaugh’s version of events. But the same goes for Pipkins.

Summer of Harbaugh soon gives way to Autumn of Harbaugh. The coach may have forced his way into the same conversations as Urban Meyer and Nick Saban, but he’ll have to deliver approaching the same level.