Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh is always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition. His latest idea involves holding his team's spring practice out of state in Florida.
Per TheWolverine.com (via Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press), Michigan is looking into practicing at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Snyder said on Sunday that Harbaugh has been to the IMG Academy campus numerous times, and the cost should not be an issue for a school with a large budget like Michigan.
While the NCAA bylaws don't mention anything about a team's practice location, Harbaugh may still face some hurdles, per Snyder:
The issues would be the location and the amount of practice time. The NCAA spring practice rules (bylaw 18.104.22.168) govern how often a team can practice (15 times) and the span (34 calendar days not counting schools vacations) and how much contact there can be (only in 12 of the 15 practices). There is nothing noted about the location.
Often northern coaches have to schedule their spring practices around the school's spring break. Either they will start spring practice after the break or they will do what Brady Hoke did two years ago at U-M and Harbaugh did last year, have a few practices before the break, then stop for the 10 days and then resume after the break.
Michigan's spring break is from Feb. 27 to March 6, and if the team uses this timeframe for spring practice, Florida's warm weather would be appealing to players and potential recruits who aren't used to the colder northern weather.
If Harbaugh uses this break, he would still have to abide by the same practice rules he does when classes are in session, according to Snyder:
The rules state it still would have to mirror the in-school rules: "Any such practice sessions held during vacation days may not be of longer duration than those normally held when academic classes are in session."
One potential complication, if the Big Ten or NCAA nix the idea. Despite no apparent roadblocks in the bylaws, the conference and national organization likely would have to clear it before the Wolverines followed through.
Yet in unusual or unconventional situations, schools usually have the idea vetted for through their own compliance department and cleared by the conference and/or NCAA before proceeding. That is the procedure Michigan State followed when its basketball team attended the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.
This alone may not be the difference between landing the No. 10 and No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, but Harbaugh looks for all of the advantages he can find—and when added up, they can make a big difference.
He uses every available practice hour he can, per Snyder, who noted Harbaugh uses his assistant coaches as much as he can when it comes to recruiting:
The "Summer Swarm," as Michigan called it, had the U-M coaches in 10 different locations in seven different states from June 4-12. As much as it disturbed coaches in those states -- especially in the SEC and ACC who were not allowed to have their own "satellite camps" -- it was within the NCAA rules.
Whatever he's doing must be working. After Michigan's five-win campaign in 2014, Harbaugh guided the Wolverines to 10 wins in his first season, and they have the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation for 2016, per 247Sports.