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Behind Harbaugh's recruiting approach: Where most coaches see NCAA rules as roadblocks, Jim Harbaugh sees opportunities


While most of us were in San Antonio enjoying the camaraderie that comes with the AFCA convention, Jim Harbaugh was busy making waves on the recruiting trail.

First, headlines were dominated by a sleepover that Harbaugh had planned with the nation's top kicker, Quinn Nordin out of Rockford High School in Michigan. NCAA rules clearly state that coaches can't visit a recruit's home until Thursday. So come 12:01 am on Thursday, Harbaugh was on Nordin's front step.

“Under the exact rules, he’s going to be at my house at 12:01 he said. That’s when it’s legal for him to be at my house,” Nordin told Scout. “He said we can watch a movie, see how well we gel and he said he would sleep over after that."

“I was in tears laughing when he said that. He said the next day, if my parents didn’t want me to miss school, he would go to every class with me and go to lunch with me. I was laughing so hard.”

“He told me if I had a 6-foot-3 inch piece of carpet for him to sleep on, that would be enough. I said we have guest rooms, and he said ‘Tell you what, I’ll just sleep on the floor in your room.’"

Nordin, a Penn State commit, told Harbaugh that he's got Penn State stuff all over his walls, and Harbaugh responded by telling him, "Tell you what, I can help you take it down.”

Then, today, a picture of Harbaugh with some juniors cleverly hanging out in the background was tweeted. NCAA rules prohibit Harbaugh from taking pictures with juniors, but this shot was set up very cleverly. Harbaugh appears to be taking a selfie, while the juniors are in the background of his photo posing for another picture. Technically they're not taking a picture together, therefore, no NCAA violation.

Are you starting to sense of the brilliance behind Jim Harbaugh's thought process when it comes to recruiting matters?

You may remember last off season, Harbaugh and his staff traveled south to work some camps that top prospects were attending. Of course, that didn't go over well with SEC programs whose schools prohibit them from doing the same.

This year, Harbaugh is making waves by stating his desire to take his Wolverines down to Florida to IMG Academy to hold their practices. No coach has ever suggested taking spring practice off campus, let alone having the team travel thousands of miles to a tropical location to one of the top high school campus' in the country for spring ball.

See the common theme behind all of these?

I can imagine Harbaugh having some creative meetings with his compliance people that go something like this:

Jim Harbaugh:So the rules say I can't do [fill in blank of NCAA rule here], but what if I [fill in creative loophole around NCAA rule here]?

Michigan Compliance Office: Well coach, NCAA rules just say you can't [restate NCAA rule], they don't really say about [that alternate loophole] you just mentioned...

Hate if you must, but where some coaches see roadblocks, Jim Harbaugh sees only opportunities. That's the part of the genius behind his recruiting approach.