Nick Saban Comments on Jim Harbaugh's Michigan Spring Practices in Florida

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2016

Alabama head coach Nick Saban smiles during a news conference for the NCAA college football playoff championship Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 to win the championship. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh caused a stir when it was announced his team would travel to Florida for spring practices at IMG Academy—a high school football powerhouseand you can now count Alabama head coach Nick Saban among those questioning the decision. 

In a Friday appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, Saban didn't seem to agree with the logistical rationale for making the trip to Florida. 

"I don't think that when people design the rules, they design to rules to take your team somewhere else and have spring practice during spring break," Saban said, according to Paul Pabst of The Dan Patrick Show

When asked by the host if he would consider bringing his team to Big Ten country like Columbus, Ohio, or Ann Arbor, Michigan, for spring practices, Saban explained that such a trip wouldn't likely be in his team's best interest, per Pabst

First of all most of our team would be shocked by the weather, so that’s not something that they would really [want]. But those are all nice places, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Big 10. I coached Ohio State, Michigan State and they’re a lot of good people there and we have a lot of good relationships there. But I’m not sure it’s something our players would look forward to and I don’t really know what the benefit of that would be.

Harbaugh has ruffled feathers throughout the SEC after his team made the move South for a portion of its spring practice schedule, and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was among those who spoke out regarding the perceived recruiting advantage Michigan was angling for. 

"They’re obviously trying to gain a competitive advantage, and that’s their right," Smart said in February, according to's Seth Emerson. "But I think the NCAA in due time will have to step in. I don’t know how it’s going to go down. It’s going to be interesting to see, though."

Although Harbaugh told reporters in Florida, "I don’t know," when asked about the recruiting advantages of practicing at IMG, according to the Associated Press (via, it's clear his peers saw the trip as a way to make inroads behind the scenes. 

But until the NCAA creates a rule outlawing the loophole Harbaugh took advantage of, the Wolverines' outspoken head coach will undoubtedly continue to come up with creative ways to put his program in a position to succeed long-term.