ROME — Jim Harbaugh’s got one small piece of advice for the Paul Finebaum crowd:
If ya can’t beat him, join him.
As in, see you in Cape Town next spring. Or Johannesburg.
Because the Michigan Wolverines World Tour, 2018 Edition, is likely bound for South Africa.
“Well I think [spring overseas trips] should be embraced, I really do,” the Michigan coach said at Stadio dei Marmi, where his football team held its final spring practice Saturday just north of Rome’s city center.
“Why close ourselves off? Why not open ourselves up? Why not connect on a grand scale, in a big way? Because sports has the ability to do it, right? The ball is the language. Everybody’s speaking the same language.
“So it’s good on all levels. But we’re on the same team, the team of the human race, humanity. This [ is a chance] for us to come together through … sports. It’s an avenue, is a path to do that.”
Steve Spurrier on Harbaugh & UM’s trip to Rome:
“Sounds like a recruiting advantage…I’m sure they’ll pass a rule that you can’t do it”
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) April 26, 2017
Welp. Guess not.
Despite the reprise of grumbling from peers, especially the ones in SEC country, Harbaugh spoke Saturday afternoon as if he expects more football programs with the wherewithal (and donors) to attempt overseas trips like this to follow Michigan’s lead.
“I think once some people see somebody do something, that it’s possible, that there is a path to do it,” Harbaugh said. “This is a good way to spend our resources — invest in the players.”
Time will tell if the wingtips signing the checks at Michigan’s peer Power 5 schools buy into that particular argument. Because whenever Harbaugh has pushed the envelope over the last few seasons, the NCAA rulebook has eventually found a way to push back:
— Ryan Dunleavy (@rydunleavy) April 14, 2017
I think most NCAA rules are now specifically designed as a middle finger to Harbaugh. https://t.co/7ySFVUHmEM
— Marty Funkhouser (@GinoHammer7) April 14, 2017
But while it’s in the clear, why not bask in la dolce vita, baby?
For one more night, at least.
“We do feel like innovators,” Harbaugh said. “We feel like pioneers — for the good. Innovators for the good.”