Harbaugh stays positive about proposed camp changes

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has decided to take a positive approach to an NCAA proposal to limit the number of days programs can hold summer camps and clinics.

The NCAA Division I Council has proposed a change to football camps and clinics to improve the recruiting environment, effectively limiting the summer satellite camp tour, of which Harbaugh has been a strong advocate and participant.

Harbaugh and his staff undertook an ambitious national -- in addition to stops in Samoa and Australia -- schedule of satellite camps last summer, but the NCAA proposes programs can have no more than 10 days for holding or participating in football camps and clinics. They do not have to be 10 days in succession, but that is a reduction from two, 15-day periods.

Making his weekly appearance on the “Jamie and Stoney Show” on WXYT-FM on Thursday morning, Harbaugh was upbeat when asked about the proposed changes.

“That would take away a lot of fun. We did close to 50 last year, and that was a lot of fun,” Harbaugh told the “Jamie and Stoney Show.” “Heck, if every school was doing 10 that would probably be more than what was done last year, so possibility it’s a really good thing. Everybody carries the water, but the main thing is football is being spread around the country and youngsters are getting good coaching and they have opportunities to show what they can do.

“Potentially it’s got a chance to be really good, so I can’t say that’s a negative. The only negative is we’ll have less fun.”

Show co-host Mike Stone suggested to Harbaugh that the NCAA is targeting him with this rule.

“It’s a Michigan rule?” Harbaugh asked.

“It’s a Jim Harbaugh rule,” Stone and co-host Jamie Samuelsen responded in unison.

Harbaugh was unwavering in his positive approach to the proposal.

“If you look at it and did the math, if everybody did 10, that would be phenomenal, that would be a lot, that would be phenomenal for the youngsters who are being introduced to football or reintroduced to football at the high school level,” Harbaugh said. “Guys that want to get better, they really like football. That’s what we found last year when we went around the country was that football’s really strong in America.

“Youngsters really like football. They want to play it. It does a lot for them physically, mentally. It teaches them how to do so many things including competing and going out and doing your best, but you need coaching. You need time on task with football. You get better at football by playing football. More is more, not less is more. I’m going to be for it, that it could be a real positive. Look at the bright side. Less fun for us, but more coaching for all the guys out there who want to play football.”

According to the proposal released Wednesday, “The camps must be owned, operated and conducted by NCAA member schools and occur on the school’s campus or in facilities the school primarily uses for practice or competition.” Doing that will “better protect the health and safety of participating students.”

Only coaches allowed to recruit off campus and graduate assistants who have passed the recruiting test would be allowed to work the camps.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, chair of the Division I Oversight committee, said in the release it is important to limit the amount of days for the camps.

“And do things differently than we did before,” Bowlsby said in the NCAA release. “But the best chance for us to manage this is to acknowledge that the summer is about recruiting, not skill development, and to manage it in ways that reflect best on our universities and the process.”

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The proposal, however, would allow coaches participating in the camps to “have recruiting conversations with participating student-athletes during the event.”

Additionally, the NCAA has proposed an early signing period for recruits and increasing the football staff by one to 10. Recruits could sign letters of intent during two 72-hour periods, in June before their senior years and another in December. That would be a change from the one signing period that begins the first Wednesday in February after their senior football season.

The council will vote on the proposals in April. If they are passed, they will be effective immediately.

Penn State coach James Franklin has been credited for being the first to take advantage of the loophole in Big Ten rules that would allow coaches to work at off-campus camps, unlike the SEC and ACC, which previously were limited to working camps within a 50-mile radius of their schools.

Harbaugh participated in satellite camps his first summer at Michigan and then in his second season he took the satellite camps to another level.

Franklin told reporters Wednesday he’s in favor of the shorter period for the camps.

“I was like the poster boy for satellite camps (two years ago),” Franklin said, according to a Centre Daily Times report. “I don’t know why, but I was.

“Somebody else has become the poster boy for satellite camps now. That’s fine with me. And it’s gotten out of control like a lot of things in life and a lot of things in our profession. It’s gotten into extremes again, and I don’t think that’s what anybody wants.”

He also said college should have to host the camps.

“I don’t think it should be with third parties, recruiting services or things like that,” Franklin said. “I think it should be on college campuses with college staffs. If you want to go somewhere else and do it, great. But it should be run by colleges. I think we’re asking for trouble with those things.”