Michigan's Jim Harbaugh takes comparison to Donald Trump

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04/15/2016

Michigan's Jim Harbaugh takes comparison to Donald Trump as compliment

BY DETROIT FREE PRESS

He has earned the nickname "the Donald Trump of college football" and says "The one thing I like about Donald Trump is he's not afraid to fight the establishment," Harbaugh said. "In that regard, I will take that as a compliment."

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Michigan's Jim Harbaugh takes comparison to Donald Trump as compliment

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh speaks at the Horatio Williams Foundation's U-M coaches clinic Thursday, April 14, 2016. Video by Mark Snyder / DFP

BY DETROIT FREE PRESS

Not much from commissioner Jim Delany and the Big Ten, the only conference to vote in support of satellite camps

As Jim Harbaugh sits at the center of the satellite camp controversy, the Michigan football coach has become a target.

SEC Network analyst Paul Finebaum has been one of his harshest critics in the past week, derisively calling him "the Donald Trump of college football" in reference to his ubiquitous presence.

When asked about that attribution today before his speech at the U-M coaching clinic at Detroit's Horatio Williams Foundation, he tried to spin it positive.

"The one thing I like about Donald Trump is he's not afraid to fight the establishment," Harbaugh said. "In that regard, I will take that as a compliment."

Harbaugh is in the eye of the storm because he took satellite camps to an unprecedented level last summer, heading camps in seven states. He didn't ask to be a target of the satellite camp ban from last week but has no problem being a spokesman because he feels the ban has far-reaching consequences.

For his program, it’s about the satellite camps.

For the high school coaches in Detroit, it’s about the ban keeping smaller-school coaches from working the big-school and off-site camps, like Sound Mind Sound Body, which draws much of its base from the Detroit area.

“It affects so many of us,” he said. “Being here tonight, I’ve already heard so many comments about it from (high school) coaches. Horatio and I already talked about it. This affects a lot of people. You’re hearing a lot of voices talking about how it affects them, the players they coach or a family member of players at different universities talking about what Sound Mind Sound Body meant to them. That’s how they got an opportunity. I think you’re seeing and will see more and more evidence. If we can keep the topic in front of people, we’re for that.”

He would like everyone on his side to keep it in front.

He waited five days to give his public response. And while SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has been very visible in stating his conference's position against the camps, not much has come from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, whose conference was the lone one in the Power Five to vote in favor of the camps.

Asked if he thought Delany had his back in this, Harbaugh said: "I want our leaders to fight for it, for what is right. You don't want them to hide on the issue. I made the comment the other day. You pretty much know how I feel."

But he wanted to emphasize his immediate bosses support him.

"Our leadership at Michigan, from our president to our athletic director, Warde Manuel, they're on top of this and it's great to see them taking the lead," Harbaugh said, referring to Manuel’s Wednesday comments to the Free Press. "Warde knows this topic as well as anybody and talks about it well. ... His comments were outstanding. He's going to formulate what's the best thing in our university's mind. He's taken the lead."

Appearing at the Horatio Williams clinic and speaking about the importance of Detroit was his chance to show Michigan connects with the city.

U-M only signed three of its 28 players in the 2016 class from the state but has in-state commitments from four of its 11 in the 2017 class.

“Our message is we’re going to take great care of our own here in Michigan,” Harbaugh said. “You’re building that trust that the fellas here can rely on that. ... It’s relationships that are being built, have been built and continue to be built. There’s a year of evidence and a lot of days and time spent. We know each other now. The coaches here know what our agenda is at the University of Michigan.”

In his speech to the coaches, he said he appreciates players from Detroit because “they’ll compete, they’ll fight, from the time they were small, some of the best Pop Warner football in the United States of America is played here, some of the best high school football and some of the best college football is played here in the great state of Michigan.”

He joked that the NCAA tried to stop this coaches clinic as well.

Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown split the rest of the hour, with Harbaugh introducing his support staff, at least 15 members who were attending, telling a story about hiring each one. Brown gave his half-hour chalk talk video presentation, with all eyes stuck on him and his passionate speech, drawing chuckles when he called Harbaugh “Elvis,” noting he can go wherever he wants in practice because it’s his team.

Contact Mark Snyder: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on Twitter@mark__snyder.

BY DETROIT FREE PRESS


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