Harbaugh decries perceived anti-football bias

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday "there's no doubt there's a prejudice against football."

Baltimore — For Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, taking on big challenges is nothing new.

As he enters his second season, Harbaugh is taking aim at the big fish — Alabama coach Nick Saban, college football’s big-man-on-campus, along with the Southeastern Conference and even the NCAA.

Harbaugh’s crusade is for fairness in football, including the idea of his controversial satellite camps, which the NCAA initially banned — fueled by the behest of SEC officials — but had an about-face ahead of the tour of almost 40 stops in June.

“There’s no doubt that there’s a prejudice against football — at the pro level, college level, at the high school level, at the Pee Wee football level,” Harbaugh said Monday. “They have something against football. We’ll overcome it, though.”

Harbaugh railed against what he calls the over-regulation of college football, saying it’s a double standard by the NCAA, a sport with large numbers of minority players, juxtaposed against a larger landscape of sports that don’t get the same scrutiny, such as tennis, golf, swimming and lacrosse.

“People are against football,” Harbaugh said. “I kind of see it. Let’s take lacrosse, for example — white sport, rising, affluent sport. You can recruit them in the eighth grade, they have a dead period for a couple days in August and it’s a totally different situation.

“It bothers us, but if it’s a test of wills, we’re going to fight for the youngsters and the student-athletes and their families and for the game of football itself.”

With the camps, it’s a one-stop-shop opportunity for high school prospects and their families. At Monday’s St. Frances camp at Patterson Park, more than a dozen colleges were represented, from Michigan and Alabama to smaller programs such as Towson, Vermont, Albany and Delaware.

While most of the attention was focused on Michigan and Alabama, most of the attendees weren’t elite-level prospects. But getting the opportunity to be trained and coached by some of the staff from different colleges didn’t seem to hurt.

NCAA has Harbaugh erring on side of caution

Saving a trip

One benefit of the camps is the cost savings for families who otherwise would spend thousands of dollars for the same exposure by attending camps on campus.

Isaiah Robinson, a 2017 quarterback prospect from The Avalon School in Gaithersburg, Md., might not have been able to make the trip to a Michigan-based camp.

“Them coming to us is a great experience,” Robinson said.

The Baltimore camp drew prospects from Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland. Many of the campers got a hearty “Good job!”

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard