Jim Harbaugh sure has the whole college-coaching thing down.
I’m not talking about how Michigan’s maximum leader recently rejected a Downers Grove South offensive lineman who had committed to the Wolverines two years ago. I’m talking about the way Harbaugh, like lots of other college football and basketball coaches, tries to present himself as a fun-loving guy any player would die to call “Coach.’’
More and more coaches have taken to social media to create an image of themselves as caring, benevolent men who A) often dance in the locker room with their players after victories or B) joyously hand out scholarships to walk-ons and C) give halftime speeches that would make anyone want to ascend Mt. Everest blindfolded and barefoot.
But Harbaugh has taken the image-making a step further. During recruiting, he has sent a birthday cake to a linebacker, dabbed for a running back during an in-home visit, went to a kicker’s home for a sleepover and climbed a tree at the request of a recruit’s little sister. All of it captured via photo or video and sent out on social media.
What a merry guy!
If you think Harbaugh is anything close to that person, well, good luck to you. When he was the 49ers coach, some players and front-office officials saw him as a strange, driven, overbearing man who eventually turns off anyone who has regular contact with him.
This from San Francisco guard Alex Boone after the 49ers had cut ties with Harbaugh in late 2014: “He does a great job of giving you that spark, that initial boom. But after a while, you just want to kick his a––. He just keeps pushing you, and you’re like, ‘Dude, we got over the mountain. Stop. Let go.’ He kind of wore out his welcome.
“I think he just pushed guys too far. He wanted too much, demanded too much, expected too much. You know, ‘We gotta go out and do this. We gotta go out and do this. We gotta go out and do this.’ And you’d be like, ‘This guy might be clinically insane. He’s crazy.’ ’’
Never mind that. Did you know Harbaugh had milkshakes with high school quarterbacks during a camp last summer? It’s all fun and games in Ann Arbor. The proof is somewhere on Twitter.