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Jim Harbaugh says Michigan is going on safari in South Africa next spring

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has said he wants to make a spring trip for the football program an annual event. Staying true to his word, Harbaugh announced Michigan will be heading to South Africa next spring.

“We’re going to (South) Africa,” Harbaugh said in a radio interview with WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor, according to The Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to Johannesburg and Cape Town and we’re going to do a safari. How about that? How about a safari?”

This spring, Michigan visited Paris. Last year, the team took a trip to Rome. This all started becoming a thing after opposing football coaches in the south caused an uproar over Michigan packing up the program and heading to Clearwater for some spring football practices.

Each of the past two trips for Michigan have been covered by donations from some big-money donors to the program. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and The Graham Group founder Don Graham split the bill for Michigan’s trip to Paris this spring. Kotick also took up the expenses for Michigan’s trip to Rome in 2017. It is unknown how Michigan is covering the pending expense of a trip to South Africa at this time, but if donors with deep pockets keep taking care of the charges, there is no reason not to take advantage of the travel opportunities.

In the meantime, Harbaugh has plenty of time to pick out a good safari hat to go with his finest pairs of khaki pants. Of course, he’ll probably stick to the blue Michigan cap to keep with his style abroad.

Michigan football discussing second season on Amazon Prime

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If you enjoyed “All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines” on Amazon Prime and want to see more, you could potentially get it. The Michigan football program is reportedly discussing the idea of a second season on the streaming video service that could continue following the Wolverines for another season.

“It’s a possibility,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said while attending an event in Ohio on Thursday, according to MLive.com. “[We’re] kind of talking to people and asking them what they think.”

There is a financial incentive to being the star subject of a streaming documentary series, of course. Michigan received $2.25 million from Amazon for opening the program up to Amazon’s cameras. The eight-episode program followed Michigan’s football program on their offseason tour to Rome, Italy and throughout the 2017 season through wins and losses. The full series went live on Amazon for Amazon Prime customers in early April.

One person who has not watched the series? That would be Harbaugh, who says he can’t stand to watch himself on camera. He also doesn’t want to re-live a few of the moments from last season.

“I can’t watch myself,” Harbaugh said. “I can’t even hear my own voice on tape recorder. Some of those losses, I don’t think I could watch them.”

Would you all in for a second season watching behind the scenes footage of the Wolverines? Or would you like to see Amazon do something similar with another program?

Jim Harbaugh expresses concern over paying college athletes

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is always willing to offer his take on any number of subjects the sport of college football faces. Among the issues that never seems to go away is whether or not players should be compensated as a student-athlete beyond just a scholarship. Speaking at an event on Thursday, Harbaugh touched on the subject and expressed some concerns he has with the concept.

“If you pay players, if you made them employees in college sports, then they’ll have to pay taxes and would the scholarship become a taxable benefit,” Harbaugh openly wondered, according to the Detroit Free Press. “If he’s getting a $65,000 scholarship plus $30,000 or $40,000 a year, is the government going to look and say ‘you owe us 40 percent in taxes’ and are you paying more than you make back into taxes?”

Harbaugh’s point about the government taxing players on any additional compensation on top of the value of a scholarship is not unique, and it has been mentioned before. It is a valid concern that sometimes gets overlooked. Paying a player could qualify them to be legally viewed as employees of a university, which opens up their income to be taxable assets.

“I worry about making them employees. But maybe there’s a way to do some kind of deferred compensation,” Harbaugh continued. “I think that (could be) a possibility and we’re exploring that right now.”

This is another idea that has been floated around before as well. Creating a fund that can be paid to a player upon completion of their college career to account for various compensation could be a possible solution to the “pay the players” model, although that would still have many details to sort out before becoming a realistic possibility.

Jim Harbaugh shares idea for fixing NCAA transfer issues

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Fresh after learning quarterback Shea Patterson will be eligible to play for Michigan this fall, Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh shared his thoughts on how to fix the NCAA transfer process moving forward. Simply put, a school accepting a transfer could pay for a scholarship to the school from where that player is coming.

“Say a school like Michigan gets a player from Eastern Michigan or Central Michigan — maybe you’ve got to pay the scholarship back,” Harbaugh opined with media following the football program in Paris, France, according to MLive.com. “Or transfers — maybe you’ve got to pay the scholarship back?”

That is definitely an interesting concept, and in theory, it could incentivize a program losing a player to move quicker in sorting out the transfer process to allow a player to move to a new school. Patterson eventually won out in a drawn-out transfer battle where Ole Miss was initially reluctant to approve a waiver to allow the former Rebels quarterback to be eligible right away this fall.

Under Harbaugh’s proposed transfer plan, Michigan would be on the hook for covering the cost of a scholarship for Ole Miss. This would bring the college game closer to a professional sports level with one team having to pay another for acquiring a player. Harbaugh is aware that this would blur those lines a bit.

“Just so there doesn’t become free agency in college football,” Harbaugh said, per MLive.com. “That’s the thing I would worry about. But I think scholarships should count as two, or pay back the other school for the money that they have invested, potentially.”

It may be just another idea floated by Harbaugh that may not gain much traction, but sharing new ideas is always a good idea if it leads to a conversation about improving the game and can open the door for a better experience for the player.

Who will call plays for Michigan’s offense? To be determined

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Usually, this time of year brings one pretty common question to college football programs around the country. Who is going to be the starting quarterback? While Michigan is indeed looking to have an answer to that down the line, the Wolverines are also trying to figure out just who exactly will be in charge of calling the offensive plays from the sideline.

As Michigan got their spring practices underway the other day, head coach Jim Harbaugh says that is a decision that has not been made amid a handful of coaching staff changes this offseason.

Well, I haven’t decided,” Harbaugh said Friday, according to MLive.com. “It really comes down to who the play caller is going to be and how we’re going to call plays. If that’s what you’re asking, I haven’t really decided yet.”

Michigan recently put the finishing touches on a new contract for Ed Wariner and also added former Florida head coach Jim McElwain to the staff this offseason. Passing-game coordinator Pep Hamilton is another candidate for the play-calling responsibilities too after already being on the staff. Tim Drevno stepped down as offensive coordinator in February.

The importance of revitalizing the Michigan offense cannot be overstated. Michigan ranked 105th in the nation in total offense in 2017, averaging 348.9 yards per game. Only Illinois and Rutgers averaged fewer yards per game among Big Ten programs last fall. The Wolverines had issues at the quarterback position all season long too, resulting in the nation’s 111th-ranked passing offense with just nine touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Maryland, Minnesota, and Rutgers were the only passing offenses in the Big Ten to average fewer passing yards per game.

Meanwhile, Michigan is still holding out hope to have Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson ruled eligible to play this season. A hold-up in the NCAA transfer process is keeping Patterson among those in limbo right now.