This offseason, no one coach traveled the country quite like Michigan man Jim Harbaugh. Hosting 11 "satellite camps" in seven states, ranging from coast-to-coast, the former San Francisco 49ers coach quickly drew heat from those fellows in his current profession for what others believe is nothing more than spreading the word of Maize and Blue in the fertile recruiting regions of his rivals.
Guess what? According to Harbaugh, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK.
Jim Harbaugh fired back at his opposition this week, telling USA Today Sports, "In my America, you're allowed to cross state borders. That's the America I know."
Score one for the United States of America. Harbaugh is pulling up his star-spangled britches and pretty telling everyone to go screw themselves.
There's no rule against what Harbaugh is doing. As this great ESPN article outlines, the NCAA prohibits an institution from hosting a real, university-sponsored camp outside of a 50-mile radius from campus. That's why you see something like you might've witnessed this month when Boston College hosted its annual camp at Alumni Stadium.
The rest, however, is the Wild West. Coaches can go pretty much wherever they want as a "guest speaker" at someone else's camp. A school like Nebraska, for example, is a guest speaker at the Georgia State camp, allowing coaches to go to down and provide instruction at someone else's campus. Harbaugh's been traversing the country, going from high school to junior college to camp as one of these "guest speakers."
The result is that he's broken the dirty little secret into clear public eyes. As the ESPN article points out, the ACC and SEC prevent their coaches from ever going outside that 50-mile radius to be a "guest speaker." That means Steve Addazio can't even host a camp on Cape Cod if he wanted, and he can only go as far west as Worcester. Forget going into Connecticut.
So when you see Harbaugh popping up in your backyard, you can see why Nick Saban, Dan Mullen, and others are getting pretty ticked off.
Harbaugh is playing the ultimate heel in this regard, and you really have to give him credit for how he's embraced it. Like the smarmy bad guy in the WWE, he's saying that he's not "building a brand" but rather "sharing a love for football." It just so happens that his love of football is being shared in some of the most fertile recruiting grounds for college conferences.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that there's varying degrees of "heat" that a coach can take on, both of which come at the same time. Harbaugh is generating heat with his comments, but it's a good heat. The only people he's actually making mad are either a) fans of other teams or b) coaches of other teams. It's not like he broke the rules and paid a player to come to Michigan. He's simply exploiting a loophole and refusing to back down. Nobody really likes him for it, but he's going to keep doing it until it becomes illegal for him to do it or until everyone else starts doing it too.
So what's the impact on us at BC? Well on the surface, there really isn't any. It's not like Jim Harbaugh has any reason to come to Massachusetts or New England until we prove we can send more than 10 kids to FBS schools. From a geographic standpoint, it would be nice if Steve Addazio could go host a camp in Texas or Florida, but it's not like Addazio is losing the top talent from the northeast to Michigan, even though we did lose a tight end to Ann Arbor this week.
In further reaching depth areas, though, it will have an impact. According to Rivals, the 2015 Michigan recruiting class ranked 50th overall - three slots behind Boston College. For 2016, Michigan's already vaulted 40 spots to 10th. BC, meanwhile, is 42nd, ahead of places like Virginia Tech and Notre Dame - places who will probably rank higher than the Eagles when everything's set and done. Even if we think about "modest growth," FORTY SPOTS????
What do you guys think? What should the NCAA do? What should the ACC do? Will we ever see the impact up here in New England? WEIGH IN!