Kirk Herbstreit offered up an outdated take on Michigan's satellite camps
Give Kirk Herbstreit credit.
The ESPN college football analyst responds to people calling him out all the time on Twitter, sometimes to a fault. He’s never afraid to share his opinions on any range of topics.
So when Herbstreit was asked about Jim Harbaugh’s satellite camp tour on the Doug Gottlieb show, he said that he didn’t think that it was necessary.
“I’m not a fan of that,” Herbstreit said. “I think it’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of money. You’re Michigan, you’re Ohio State, you’re Notre Dame – you don’t need to do this. Or Alabama. Or Auburn. You don’t need to travel to California. Or USC. You don’t need to travel to Georgia to have a camp. I think that idea is tired. I’m just tired of hearing about satellite camps and how they bring so much value.
“I think it’s a huge waste.”
Herbstreit, of course, was called out on Twitter for his take on satellite camps:
Because you're MICHIGAN-One of the most recognizable and historic programs in the country!! You don't need to do it. https://t.co/WL2nfwC9d0
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) June 7, 2016
Before you claim that Herbstreit is calling out Michigan because he’s an Ohio State grad, stop. That’s not what he’s saying.
He’s trying to say that a program like Michigan can simply puff it’s chest, show off national titles from before current recruits were born, and sign a top-10 class. The whole “because-you’re-Michigan” argument is silly based on the last 10 years alone. When Michigan was last competing for a national title in 2006, current recruits were in second grade.
So basically, since recruits started to understand sports (let’s just say from sixth grade and on), here were Michigan’s yearly marks:
- 2010: 7-6 (3-5 in B1G)
- 2011: 11-2 (6-2 in B1G)
- 2012: 8-5 (6-2 in B1G)
- 2013: 7-6 (3-5 in B1G)
- 2014: 5-7 (3-5 in B1G)
- 2015: 10-3 (6-2 in B1G)
That’s a 48-29 overall record and a 27-21 mark in the B1G during that time. Michigan has as many double-digit win seasons as Northwestern during that stretch. The Wolverines have nine fewer B1G wins — and four fewer division titles — than Wisconsin.
Here’s the one that’ll surprise people. UCLA — the basketball school with a slightly above average football program — was 47-32 overall and 30-24 during that stretch.
Michigan, the team with more wins than anybody, obviously hasn’t been Michigan in the pre-Harbaugh era. For Herbstreit to claim that the Wolverines’ history should do their recruiting for them is a stale opinion.
I’m not the only one who thought so:
Contrary to what the 1980s will tell you, Michigan can't snap its fingers and get a kid from LA to come to Ann Arbor. Infinitely harder now
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) June 7, 2016
@nickbaumgardner See both sides, but bottom line is Michigan hasn't won anything really meaningful for 10+ years. Need to promote brand.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) June 7, 2016
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 7, 2016
Harbaugh is doing all of this to promote Michigan the best way he knows how. Is some of that self-promotion? Sure, but it’s what he feels he has to do to shed the notion that Michigan is the historic program that lacks national relevance in the modern era.
By starting his satellite camp tour last year and signing a top-five class, he already proved that his model works. It doesn’t matter that Brady Hoke signed a couple top-10 recruiting classes. Harbaugh had to rebuild Michigan’s brand after he took over a five-win team.
And as Harbaugh said, if he enjoys it, who is it hurting? It isn’t like he’s a 75-year-old guy putting his health at risk by traveling the country and hosting all of these camps. Everybody who has been to these camps has come away with a consensus opinion: Harbaugh loves football and he loves coaching. This gives him a chance to do that and possibly find some future Wolverines.
If you want to argue that Harbaugh is trying to draw too much attention to himself, that’s fine. His personality always has and always will rub some people the wrong way. But to expect him to spend his summers playing golf while other coaches are hosting satellite camps of their own — Alabama and Ohio State are participating, too — wouldn’t make sense.
Herbstreit is right about one thing. It is still Michigan.
But now, thanks to Harbaugh, Michigan is setting the standard instead of assuming that dusty trophies will convince a 17-year old-kid to come to Ann Arbor.