Taking an entire football team across the pond isn’t cheap. Just ask Michigan, which has now done it three times, the latest coming in May to South Africa for a jaunt that cost a pretty penny for Wolverines donors footing the bill.
According to records obtained by the Detroit Free Press, the final tally for UM’s visit to South Africa was some $1.19 million:
Michigan brought 98 student-athletes, two student managers, 34 coaches/staffers and two donors on the trip, according to records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. Fourteen spouses and children of coaches/staffers also came on the trip, but their travel costs were not paid by the school or with donor money.
The breakdown of expenses was $1,154,830 paid to the travel agency organizing the trip and $38,241 listed as “other trip costs.”
While the school itself likely wouldn’t have had an issue picking up that kind of check given the $56 million they have coming from the Big Ten in 2019, donors made sure that was not an issue for the bean counters in Ann Arbor. It’s been part of a rather exorbitant run by Jim Harbaugh and company in recent years, including spending some $350,000 for spring practice at IMG Academy in 2016, an $800,000 excursion to Italy in 2017, and a $1.007 million jaunt across the pond to France last year.
Add it all up though, and the figure only barely approaches half of Harbaugh’s yearly salary.
While the final number for the South African excursion is notable, the Michigan coach’s ideas for 2020 are also noteworthy for their relative restraint for staying within the confines of the nation’s borders.
“(Maybe) Washington D.C. I’d like to go to the Supreme Court, the halls of Congress, the Smithsonian,” Harbaugh said. “Or Gettysburg. Or we could go to San Diego, do some SEAL team training and (eventually) go on to Pearl Harbor.”
At least Michigan won’t have to worry about players getting passports next year and some donors can enjoy their wallets being a little fatter than the years before.
To celebrate Oliver Martin‘s commitment to Michigan in late January of 2017, a khaki-clad Jim Harbaugh jumped into a pool. Nearly two-and-a-half years later, Martin is jumping ship.
According to a tweet from Tom VanHaaren of ESPN.com, Martin is now listed in the NCAA transfer database, the first step in what would potentially be a move away from Ann Arbor. For what it’s worth, there has been no confirmation from either the wide receiver or the U-M football program.
A four-star member of that 2017 class, Martin was rated as the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Iowa. Martin ultimately chose U-M over, among others, his home state Iowa Hawkeyes.
According to HawkCentral.com, “[s]ources close to the situation have indicated Iowa is a possible destination for Martin,” whose family lives less than a half-hour from Kinnick Stadium.
A shoulder injury played a role in Martin not seeing the field as a true freshman and taking a redshirt season. This past season, Martin caught 11 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. He also ran once for another 11 yards.
Barring something out of the ordinary rearing its head, Martin would have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. That would then leave the receiver with two years of eligibility he can begin using in 2020.
Michigan’s 2018 season was the ultimate mixed bag. There was the 10-game winning streak in the middle that saw the Wolverines look like one of the four best teams in the country, and then there were the other three games: a 24-17 loss at Notre Dame to open the year, the 62-39 debacle in Columbus, and then the 41-15 clunker to Florida in the Peach Bowl. The Wolverines began the year at No. 14 in the AP poll, dropped to No. 21 after the Notre Dame loss, climbed all the way to No. 4 when they stepped on the field in Columbus, and finished exactly where they started: No. 14.
Heading into a critical Year 5 at Michigan — aren’t they all critical, especially if you’re him? — Jim Harbaugh isn’t letting his team forget their crash landing by putting it on t-shirts.
“Coach Harbaugh gave us some shirts the other day with the co-Big (Ten) East champs on the front and then all the scores of the games we lost on the back,” tight end Sean McKeon told the Detroit News. “I took that shirt and hung it up in the tight ends room with the scores (showing), just a reminder how the season ended. We don’t want to do that again, obviously.”
Left guard Ben Bredeson took a different approach than McKeon. Instead of nailing his shirt to the wall in his meeting room, Bredeson put his in the bottom of his locker, where it will remain. “I remember all of (the losses), so we’re good,” he said.
There are some lines you just don’t cross and in the college football world, one of those just so happens to be one of the biggest rivalries in the sport of Ohio State and Michigan.
Jim Harbaugh knows that better than most this offseason after seeing not one but two of his assistant coaches cross enemy lines from Ann Arbor to Columbus. While the loss of linebackers coach Al Washington probably didn’t make a huge number of waves, the loss of Greg Mattison to be the OSU co-defensive coordinator did not exactly endear him to the Wolverines head coach based on his comments at the start of spring practice this week.
“He wanted to be a coordinator again, and darn near doubled his salary. I don’t hold that against him. We’re not going to be sending each other Christmas cards, based on where he went,” Harbaugh said, according to the Associated Press. “Still a good man, still have a ton of respect for him. We’ll be friends again someday, when we’re done coaching.”
While it’s pretty clear that Harbaugh likes Mattison after all the years they spent together following the former’s return to Michigan, the departure for Ohio State — of all schools — certainly does rain on their relationship quite a bit based on that quote.
November 30th, 2019 certainly can’t get here soon enough either way…
An increasing number of players are taking advantage of their opportunity to explore their transfer options this offseason, and it has become a growing concern for the sport as a whole. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who has seen players come and leave via the transfer process during his time in Ann Arbor, remains one of the voices of college football who feels the transfer process does need to be reviewed.
“It needs to be decided, too, amongst everybody across the college football landscape how it’s going to be treated,” Harbaugh said in his podcast recently, as quoted by USA Today. “It was a case where, if you decided to transfer, you had to sit out a year from playing a sport – you’re ineligible. Or is that that anybody has a one-time transfer that they can make? A one-time transfer rule. Right now, I don’t know where we’re at. Somewhere in the abyss?”
The NCAA has adjusted the transfer process to make the system more accommodating for players. The introduction of the transfer portal allows a player to enter their name in a list to become eligible to have contact with other schools without withdrawing entirely from their current program. The NCAA has also relaxed the strictness of the one-year waiting period when it comes to waivers. The rule still stands that a player must sit out a year before being eligible to play at their new school (if transferring from an FBS program to another FBS program), but waivers continue to be approved at a higher number this offseason to allow a player to be eligible immediately.
Harbaugh recently saw the transfer process leave one of his players in jeopardy last offseason when Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson transferred to the Wolverines. Although that was more of a sticky situation given the Ole Miss sanctions looming over the program and former head coach Hugh Freeze. Just this offseason, Ohio State welcomed quarterback Justin Fields from Georgia, and Fields has been granted immediate eligibility for the 2019 season.
“It is different,” Harbaugh said. “It is different that more guys are transferring. We’ve experienced it this year. Talking to guys, as a parent, there’s not even a good reason. Were you shaving this morning and you woke up and decided I want to transfer?”
The NCAA will be reviewing the waiver transfer process amid growing concerns around the sport. And if Harbaugh is asked to share his thoughts, he has a few ideas ready to throw out there.