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Jim Harbaugh vs The Rest of the College Football World

Jim Harbaugh won't stop until he's got the rest of the College Football World mad at him, and you know what, it's really fun to watch him push their buttons.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

When Jim Harbaugh returned to coach the Michigan Wolverines, everyone knew he'd make an impact. What we couldn't predict is how he'd become the common enemy of the rest of the college football world. When Harbaugh isn't inviting himself to sleep over at recruits' homes, or hiring their family members or HS coaches to come work for him, he's planning an epic Spring Break for his team in Florida.

Of course, like they did with Harbaugh's camp in Alabama, the SEC isn't too happy to see a Northerner on their turf. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey rallied to defend the poor student-athletes who wouldn't get a Spring Break because of Michigan's plans,

"Our primary reaction [is] that, in the face of the time-demand conversations, we've got one program taking what has been 'free time' away," Sankey said. "Let's draw a line and say, ‘That's not appropriate.'"

Sankey's altruistic approach loses a bit of steam when he goes on to say this in response to the trip,

"The net of that is to say the Southeastern Conference is not going to be outpaced in recruiting," Sankey said. "If the national approach is that we want to have more aggressive summer camps and coaches touring around all summer, then we will not only engage in that behavior, we will certainly engage in that behavior more actively -- probably more effectively than others."

That's right, we'll say it's about protecting athletes and their times, but in reality, it's about protecting our recruiting edge. If you don't want to respect that, then the Southeastern Conference will start sending our coaches and teams to enjoy the moderate Summer temperatures on Mackinac Island.

Of course, Sankey and the others criticizing Harbaugh's plans failed to mention that sports in and out of season have long taken training trips without anyone speaking up on their behalf. During my time at Syracuse, track, rowing, swimming, and even lacrosse spent time during Winter and/or Spring Break on training trips and somehow those student-athletes ended up alright.

No one talks about baseball and softball teams travelling south and west every week from February on, but now we've got to stand up and stop these Michigan players from getting a week in Florida, where they can practice without impacting academics (imagine that). No, the biggest issue is that Harbaugh is once again pushing the envelope when it comes to current NCAA recruiting rules. The SEC, and now ACC, are looking to protect their areas from being invaded by programs from the Big Ten.

To his credit, Sankey does mention that perhaps the issue isn't Harbaugh taking his athletes to Florida, but rather where he's taking them. With Michigan scheduled to practice at IMG Academy, the reality is that Harbaugh is putting his players at a school run by a sports agency, where lots of high-caliber recruits will see the Michigan colors up close and personal. That's the issue that people should be complaining about, but I don't think people want to go there because no one wants to be critical of IMG, or bring more attention to the fact that in the 400+ pages of the NCAA rulebook, nothing prevents a college program from holding practices at a high school. (Not exactly surprising since we are talking about the NCAA here)

Just imagine if this wasn't Crazy Uncle Jim Harbaugh practicing at a prime recruiting ground, but instead it was John Calipari taking his Kentucky Wildcats to spend a week in Vegas using the Findlay Prep facilities for practices.....in any case, watching Harbaugh rattle the cage of stuffy NCAA administrators makes for great off-season entertainment. Not to mention that Harbaugh seems to be an avid supporter of this Syracuse Orange website: