Earlier today, Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh released a letter to the football community. Harbaugh began his letter with the central ideas to be discussed.
In my opinion, we are in need of constructive, proactive discussion about the evolving issues facing intercollegiate football. In today’s world, many young men and their families perceive college football as preventing them from earning a living as a professional football player. That is not an unreasonable perception given the rules currently in place.
The discussion centers around two of our present models of football, the intercollegiate amateur model and the professional model, and most importantly, those who participate in those models.
Harbaugh's main points of focus were as follows:
- Student athletes can declare prior to three years removed from high school.
- If not taking in the first 224 picks (or not signed), student athletes should be able to return to school.
- Student athletes should be able to consult with agents and lawyers to make the best decision possible.
- Schools should pay for athletes' education after they're done with sports.
Harbaugh also made mention of lifting the "25 signee per class rule", which would essentially allow programs to bring in as many freshmen as they like. The head coach also used this as another opportunity to point out that he supports athletes being allowed to transfer one time and play immediately. He first spoke about that last year at Big Ten media days but doubled down on it today in his letter.
Whether you agree with Harbaugh or not, his ideas are very pro-student athlete, which is never a bad thing for a coach to be known for. Some people will say that this is all about recruiting, and I'm sure it's part of it, but it feels pretty genuine. Talking to a recruit about being able to come back to school eight years down the line to finish his degree just isn't going to land with most 17- or 18-year olds.
Whether it was actually about recruiting or not is unclear, but Michigan and Jim Harbaugh are being talked about today, which I'm sure is just fine with everyone in maize and blue.