Jim Harbaugh’s commanding personality, ability to effectively utilize the media and tendency to make others react to his eccentric methods led SEC media-mogul Paul Finebaum to dub him the “Donald Trump of college football.”
He is once again the center of attention in the college football world after announcing that the Michigan Wolverines would hold a week of practices in Florida during spring break, a time student-athletes traditionally spend at home free of team obligations.
“For whatever reason, the SEC coaches will not learn,” Finebaum said Wednesday on his SEC Network show. “They have to keep reacting to this guy. It’s like Rubio and Kasich and Bush all reacting to Donald Trump. That’s what he wants. And the Donald Trump of college football, Jim Harbaugh, wants Greg Sankey and he wants Hugh Freeze and Butch Jones and Gus Malzahn and Bret Bielema to all get their panties in a wad and make him even a bigger story.”
While no NCAA rules prohibit the decision, Harbaugh continued to make enemies. Enter SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who immediately petitioned the NCAA to prohibit such a move. While NCAA rules limit the amount of time college athletes are allowed to spend performing team activities — currently known as the 20-hour per week rule — there are no limitations on spring break activities as it is almost universally a break for players.
After Sankey’s complaints, Harbaugh shot back on Twitter with a thinly veiled subtweet.
Question of the day: Does anyone find whining to be attractive? Just curious.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) February 10, 2016
Since stepping onto campus in Ann Arbor prior to the 2015 season, Harbaugh has continually pushed the envelope, sleeping over with the nation’s top kicking prospect — then a Penn State commit — and climbing a tree at the request of a recruit’s younger sister. Both signed with Michigan. (VIDEO: American Treasure Jim Harbaugh Is Now Climbing Trees To Impress Recruits)
Harbaugh’s announcement of Michigan’s spring break plan to venture deep into the heart of SEC country is just his latest example of skirting existing NCAA rules and making enemies down south.
Last summer, Harbaugh received criticism from SEC coaches Gus Malzahn and Nick Saban after holding satellite camps in Florida, Alabama and Texas for high schoolers. He famously went shirtless, participating in drills at the Alabama camp. Yes, he left his signature khakis on. Unlike the Big Ten, SEC coaches are not allowed to travel that far from campus to run camps.
“In my America, you’re allowed to cross state borders,” the coach told USA Today last summer. “That’s the America I know.” (RELATED: Michigan Coach/Man’s Man Jim Harbaugh Takes A Daily Vitamin: ‘It’s Called A Steak’)