Harbaugh invites coaches from all colleges to UM camp

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh offered an eighth-grade phenom a scholarship, according to the Daytona News Journal.

As far as collegial gestures, this one meshes a sincere invitation with a hint of in-your-face, dare-you cleverness.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, perhaps buoyed by comments of outrage emanating from the land of the Southeastern Conference, whose coaches are critical of Big Ten coaches taking advantage of a high school camp recruiting loophole, has matched that rage with what he described as the aforementioned "collegial gesture."

Harbaugh took to Twitter, a favorite outlet for Michigan's first-year coach, late Friday morning and posted a dressed-up, maize-and-blue invitation for two coaches from every college in America to participate "in teaching the game of football properly" at the Michigan football game June 14-17.

The camp has been dubbed "Exposure U" by Michigan.

"It is our goal to have representation from every football playing college in America," Harbaugh wrote in the invitation.

By late Friday afternoon, 50 colleges already responded to work the Exposure U camp, according to the Twitter feed of Chris Partridge, who handles Michigan's football operations.

"Come on coaches let's make it a clean sweep of the USA!" Partridge wrote, adding the email address: ExposureU@umich.edu.

Montana coach Bob Stitt appeared to be among the first to respond to Harbaugh's Twitter invitation, also responding to the coach via the social media platform: "I'm in! Thx for the invite!"

But will Michigan rivals like Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Ohio State's Urban Meyer take Harbaugh up what some consider a masterful job of trolling disguised as an invitation?

"Our vision for the University of Michigan football camp is to bring together players and coaches in all different levels from around the country to provide maximum exposure for our great game of football," Harbaugh wrote. "In a collaborative effort we will strive to provide the best possible experience for campers.

" ... Where college coaches are restricted from working a camp outside of a 50-mile radius of their campus, we cordially invite your head football coach to be our keynote speaker."

His Big Ten rivals, though, are probably not what provoked Harbaugh's invite.

Clearly this was a shot delivered at the SEC coaches and administrators, who this week directed their ire at Big Ten coaches. Big Ten coaches are not hamstrung like SEC and ACC coaches in terms of working camps outside a 50-mile radius of their campuses.

According to NCAA bylaws, football coaches can only conduct camps and clinics within 50 miles of their campuses. But the loophole the Big Ten doesn't prohibit allows coaches to be "guest instructors" at any camp.

Penn State coach James Franklin and his staff participated in two satellite camps last season.

Michigan recently announced that Harbaugh and his staff will launch its "Summer Swarm Tour," including nine camp visits around the country, starting with Indianapolis on June 4. It concludes locally on June 12 with the Sound Mind Sound Body Academy. The staff will work camps in Texas, Florida, Alabama, Pennsylvania, California and Michigan.

SEC coaches are opposed to these satellite camps because the SEC doesn't allow the practice.

"If we're all going to travel all over the country to have satellite camps, you know, how ridiculous is that?" Alabama coach Nick Saban asked, according to a report Wednesday on AL.com. "I mean, we're not allowed to go to all-star games, but now we're going to have satellite camps all over the country. So it doesn't really make sense."

Greg Sankey, the incoming SEC commissioner, discussed the camps during an Associated Press Sports Editors meeting in Alabama this week, and referred to what Michigan is doing, like the Swarm Tour, as "recruiting tours."

"So let's just be clear about what we're really talking about here," Sankey said.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters Wednesday this is a loophole "people are taking advantage of."

"I don't think it's a good thing," Swinney said. "Ultimately what happens is instead of camps you are having a combine."

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was asked last week at a news conference about camps.

"Am I fan of that? Not really," Meyer said. "A big lure to Ohio State is getting here on campus."

But Meyer added Ohio State might consider a satellite camp.

"If it helps us, we'll do it," Meyer said. "I think we might try one this year. I don't know if it's been finalized. You'll certainly hear about it if we do."