John Calipari had Jim Harbaugh on his podcast this week, which is just an amazing sentence to read. (Try to imagine Harbaugh having his own podcast -- in season, no less.) The podcast is full Calipari -- he just has to mention that he landed a new commitment in the middle of a sponsor read -- but also an informative talk by guys who have been around a block or three in recruiting.
The snippet below discusses how the two know whether or not a recruit is right for their respective programs and vice versa, the philanthropic nature of recruiting (fun game: imagine the look on the face of an SEC basketball or Big Ten football coach as they listen to this conversation) and how they deal with negative recruiting.
It's an enjoyable listen (or read) in part because of the words Harbaugh uses. There's something very 1960's about Harbaugh's liberal use of the terms "youngsters" and "enemies" that I find refreshing.
Calipari: I use this term: Kentucky's not for everybody. Have you gone after a kid that's one of the best in the country and after being around (him) and you just say, 'Either he'll get it and won't come with us or let's get some other guys.' Does that happen? Is that part of the deal?
Harbaugh: It is for sure. Every family wants the same thing -- they want what's best for their son. I respect that, appreciate that. I have my own kids and you want the best situation. We present what we have and work on it if there's something we can get better at. We just focus on ourselves. We focus on providing a great experience, educational, athletic, that we can. You understand, to your point, that some times there's going to be a youngster who's grown up loving Kentucky. That's his dream to play there. Or distance, family situation. You don't get all of them, but I have developed some real connections and close relationships that didn't come to Michigan.
Calipari: You don't take it personal. I don't take it personal. We're not getting every kid. I'm not going to get mad, I'm not going to get angry at the family. My hope is that they look back and say, 'Man, I wish I would have gone with them.' And then I'll say, 'Hey man, you did the right thing for you. Make it work. Make this thing work.' I would imagine that you're taking that same kind of approach
Harbaugh: Oh, without question. It's an amazing experience that these youngsters have accomplished. Out of millions of millions of people that they're in competition with to get a basketball scholarship, or to get a football scholarship, to have done what they needed to do in the classroom, in the community and on the field to get to that level to get to that level, to me it's a celebration for that youngster and that family. Yeah, I hope to heck that they want to come to Michigan. It's not always the best fit but I'm still happy for their success and wish them luck. As I said, in many cases I have remained close because you get attached to the youngster and their family and you follow them as a fan when they go to another school. I know I have. You coach the ones you do get, you concentrate on them and coach them, and you do the best job of being a coach that you can. That's the way I approach it.
Calipari: Trying to help them become the best version of themselves. Alright, I'm going to hit this. They say I'm going to the NBA every year. He's going to the NBA, he's not going to be there. I would imagine that you're getting hit in the head with you're going to the NFL. And I would imagine we both are dealing with... look, I love college. The impact I can have on these young people, the ability to basically change the direction for a family's fortunes. In other words, some come from generational poverty. You and I have been in that home looking around saying, 'Son, if we do this together, it's not going to be like this long. But you're going to have to come and work. Nothing's given to you.' But you're also dealing with... you're Jim Harbaugh. You're coming on the scene, you're changing things. The negative stuff, especially this NFL. How are you dealing with that right now?
Harbaugh: So many things you just said. You can guarantee an opportunity. I love going down the path with a youngster, with a family. And if we go down this path together, I mean we go down all the way -- to where all my friends are your friends and all my contacts are your contacts. This is something that I envision being a long and trusting, lasting friendship. I agree with you. That's the kind of thing being a college coach, you've got the opportunity to be somebody's favorite teacher, somebody's favorite coach that they've ever had. I really want to be that. I really strive to be that. As far as the negative recruiting. A lot of that comes from people that have been saying that for six months, a year. They're our enemies. They're our competition. They try to manipulate a youngster and their family any way they can. My philosophy and thought on it: if you have to talk about somebody else and somebody else's program and negative recruit them or their situation then you're really not concentrating on your own program and the situation what you have, and that's what you should be presenting. That's what you should be encouraging a youngster look at, not the negative side of recruiting. Definitely people use that against you. They use that against me. I've long referred to those people as jive turkeys.
The section above commences around the 23-minute mark. Harbaugh also discusses the time he leg wrestled a recruit -- and won his commitment.