Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is in a category all to himself in college football.
Every December the rumors of Harbaugh returning to the NFL ensue, and every year the rumors prove to be false and laughable as Harbaugh is visiting multiple states per day trying to land big time recruits for the program. His foot is on the gas.
“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day,” Harbaugh told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “It’s people spreading messages to further their own personal agenda.”
This comes on the heels of FS1’s Cris Carter saying that Harbaugh may be interested in coaching for the Green Bay Packers or Cleveland Browns. While we don’t know who Carter’s source was, we do know the former Ohio State wideout said he spoke with Urban Meyer the day after Meyer retired.
If we find truth in Harbaugh’s words, what it means is (some of) the people spreading Harbaugh to NFL rumors have the intent of doing harm to the Michigan program to strengthen their preferred institution by proxy. Sounds wicked. Sounds dirty, But it unfortunately sounds very plausible.
“A lot of this talk is coming from our enemies,” Harbaugh said in 2016 after Colin Cowherd had bogus reporting. “From coaches who, and you know the names. You probably know the names of the top three that I’m referring to. They like to say (I’m leaving) to the media, they like to tell that to recruits and their families to try to manipulate them into going to another school besides Michigan.”
I’m not going to say the names either, but you probably do know the top three Harbaugh was referring to. And to just picture a major college coach sitting in the home of a recruit saying “you shouldn’t go to Michigan, Harbaugh is going to leave you hanging when he heads to the NFL next month”, or giving members in the media 100% false info would be a downright disgrace to decency.
“Jim is one of the greatest coaches, college or pro. I think it’s to his credit, to his credit, that his name continually pops up,” Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel said. “But as I said before, when we think about bringing student-athletes here we want the best. And we have the best coach. I just hope people understand, in particular, our recruits and people in that world with our team, don’t get dissuaded because people put out these rumors.”
I’m not going to say one recruit has been dissuaded now or in the past because of rumors like the ones noted, but false Harbaugh to NFL rumors don’t help Michigan recruiting one bit. We’re talking about 16-18 year old high school students, trust is hard to gain and easy to break. How are they supposed to know whether rumors are true or false if an opposing coach or media member is the one spreading the rumors?
Harbaugh commenting on the rumors as he did was a wise move, because if he decided to stay quiet, the silence would have only fueled speculation, even when everyone in the know thought the rumors were a complete joke.
Michigan currently has the No. 11 recruiting class on 247 Sports, and maybe with the rumors in the rear view mirror the Wolverines will crack the top ten once things are all said and done.