Harbaugh, Dantonio share love, joy for football at SMSB

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Larry Foote speaks to the participants at the Sound Mind Sound Body Academy on Friday.

Detroit — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has turned heads with his break-neck satellite camp pace around the country the last few weeks, but on Friday, he returned home.

Harbaugh, along with Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and about three dozen head coaches from various levels of college football, participated in the Sound Mind Sound Body Academy at Wayne State on Friday. Harbaugh and Dantonio delivered speeches to the more than 600 high school football players as part of the SMSB off-field curriculum before they headed to the fields for instruction.

“We’re certainly not comparing a camp here to a camp somewhere and saying one’s better than another,” Harbaugh said. “They’re all good, they’re all great. It sure is special to be in the great state of Michigan in the city of Detroit and be home and see that same joy and love for athletics, for football, for academics that our youngsters have here in the great state of Michigan.

“You want to tell the world we are strong here in Michigan. Our youngsters are smart, 16, 17, 18 year olds attacking the world. There’s a heck of a group here in the state of Michigan, and you’re proud.”

Dantonio and his staff have been regulars at Sound Mind Sound Body for years. The Academy, co-founded by Curtis Blackwell, MSU’s director of college advancement and performance, is in its 12th year.

“It’s great for high school football, it’s great for college football,” Dantonio said. “It’s a dual purpose here. They have a large amount of opportunities to sit in there and listen to coaches and talk to different people. Life lessons and anything you can do to point them in the right direction in this day and age in society is a positive thing and when they go out on the field, like coach said, you have an opportunity to take something with them and get better.

“Football is muscle memory. They have to learn some type of skill level and they’re not going to get better today, they need to practice what they learned today to get better.”

Sound Mind Sound Body has expanded this year to Houston, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Tampa and Los Angeles, but is not considered a satellite camp or an institutional camp, but an academy setting that blends on-field football training with off-field life-lesson development like etiquette in dining room settings and more serious discussions about drugs, alcohol and relationships.

Former Wolverine and NFL linebacker Larry Foote kicked things off Friday. SMSB was expecting representatives from 11 of the 14 Big Ten schools and more than 240 coaches, including full staffs from 18 programs.

“The organization Sound Mind Sound Body does a tremendous job, does it at a very, very high level,” Harbaugh said. “Curtis Blackwell has been so passionate about it. He feels like we all do about the sport we love and teaching and coach is all we do, it is what we were put on this earth to do. To be a part of a camp like this is tremendous because you know what the youngsters are getting out of it.

“They’re going to learn one or two or three or four things that they’re going to be able to put in their back pocket and take it to the fall and use it to make them a better player and make their team a better team. That’s what this is all about. Nowhere else they should want to be than right here.

“There are so many layers of how good this is. How cool it is as a college coach to be with other college coaches 40, 50, 60 80 different colleges represented and we’re not playing a game? We’re together on this sharing in the joy and love for football. Our staff has done many satellite camps, more than most programs have done, and everywhere you go you see a joy for football in the youngsters and a passion for the game is so inspiring. Now to come back and fly into the state of Michigan, the great state of Michigan and be in the city of Detroit and see that same love and passion for the game of football, as I said, it’s inspiring. I can’t wait to be on the field and share that joy.”