Jim Harbaugh has never been one to do things the conventional way. That was on display yet again this past week when Harbaugh took a jet down to Oxford, Mississippi and met with some Ole Miss players that have been granted permission to seek a transfer.
This should make the Internet fun for a minute pic.twitter.com/YmCdTMnQm5— Chase Parham (@RivalsChase) December 5, 2017
Here’s the deal: Ole Miss was hit with sanctions for the involvement of boosters in their athletic program paying players, among other violations. In total, 15 Level 1 infractions were made by Ole Miss.
What’s their deal? Ole Miss fans and their athletic department are not happy Harbaugh met with transfer seeking players.
Ole Miss’ Athletic Director released a statement that sounds like he’s referring to Harbaugh
Message to the Ole Miss family. pic.twitter.com/FCzmvHhNAb— Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) December 6, 2017
“We will not allow outside influences to define who we are, and we will use every avenue available to hold those accountable who tamper with our student-athletes.”
Tamper is a big word in college sports, it implies an infraction, it implies something was illegally done. This was not the case with Harbaugh meeting with players who were granted the opportunity of seeking a transfer. Once that happens, players are free game to communicate with other institutions. The AD may not like seeing a Michigan plane in his town, but Harbaugh had every right to be there in the capacity he was.
But could Ole Miss’ athletic director have a point about potential tampering? The answer is likely a big no. Michigan’s athletic department, Harbaugh, and his staff are fully aware of what they can and cannot do in terms of communicating with Ole Miss players. Everything they’ve done to this point that’s been reported seems within the confines of NCAA rules and regulations.
So why would Bjork make an official statement like this? It’s political. He threw something out there to fire up his fan base, creating an enemy out of Michigan when the true enemies are the people who made the Ole Miss program sanction-laden. But a lot of fans are eating this up in Mississippi, spite flows for Michigan.
Actually, it's very cool and good that Ole Miss got in trouble for loaner cars but a multi-millionaire can fly a private jet into Oxford to recruit players away from the team. Very cool. Very good. https://t.co/YS4mD9r79b— Red Cup Cooperation (@RedCupRebellion) December 5, 2017
Ole Miss got into trouble for a lot more than loaner cars.
Question: What’s a good rule of thumb if you don’t want another coach picking up transfer players?
Answer: Don’t let your (former) coach (Hugh Freeze) call a dozen escort services on a university phone, something Freeze did in fact do at Ole Miss. When a program has something like that going on, it’s a good idea to lay low when a coach decides to recruit transfer players after your university has been proven guilty of many infractions.
Ole Miss is in shambles and has rightfully been hit with sanctions, so it would be best to take whatever hits come their way. Ole Miss hasn’t found this acceptance, yet they’re angry about the prospect of Harbaugh landing multiple Ole Miss players.
No matter what happens from this point forward, this has already become a memorable story with lots of drama and intrigue. And the story isn’t over yet.