Jim Harbaugh Thinks Every Football Recruit Should Play Soccer Until 8th Grade, And His Reasons Make Sense
Jim Harbaugh is one of the most interesting and popular coaches in all of college football. He’s turned the University of Michigan program around almost overnight. He’s returned the Wolverines to prominence on the national stage with a berth in last year’s Orange Bowl where they were beaten down by the Seminoles from my alma mater Florida State. So what if Jim Harbaugh‘s fellow coaches just ranked him as the most overrated coach in college football? He’s winning games, and he’s doing it his way.
Jim Harbaugh and Michigan currently have the #15 ranked 2018 Recruiting Class. He pulled in the #5 ranked class in 2017, and the #8 ranked class in 2016. Methinks the Wolverines will make some moves towards the top 5 before the 2018 Recruiting Season is done based on that recent history…And I say all of this because of an excerpt I just came across in a Wall Street Journal article by Ben Cohen. In the article, Harbaugh talked about how he encourages football recruits to play soccer up until 8th grade and that’s when he believes they should make the jump to playing football. He thinks soccer provides crucial foundational skills to the game of football. When QB recruits recently visited Michigan he converted the school’s indoor football field into a makeshift soccer pitch and used Lax nets as goals before having the prospective recruits play a game of soccer which he refereed himself.
There may not be anyone who loves anything as much as Jim Harbaugh loves football. But when young quarterbacks ask him how they can play football at Michigan, the coach offers some unconventional advice: play soccer, too.
Some of the country’s most coveted high-school quarterbacks visited Michigan for Harbaugh’s camp this summer ready to spend all day showing off the strength and accuracy of their arms. Harbaugh had other plans. He also made them play a sport in which they could only use their feet.
“There is really no other game like it,” Harbaugh said last month after Michigan practiced with the Italian Serie A club AS Roma . “I always encourage youngsters in America to play soccer.”
Of course he does. Harbaugh is the counterintuitive outlier in a sport that breeds conservative thinkers. In that way his unlikely embrace of soccer is perfectly Harbaughian. It’s something that seems preposterous until you think more about it, at which point it makes so much sense that you start to question why it took so long for others to figure out. (via)
The entire WSJ article is fascinating, and you can read it in full by clicking that link above if you’re a subscriber. It also explains a lot of why Jim Harbaugh had his team scrimmaging with AS Roma on their trip to Rome earlier this Summer.
There are truly endless reasons for Jim Harbaugh wanting his recruits to play soccer. It’s a test of athleticism. It shows how quickly they can think on their feet if they’re not familiar with the game. It’s a test of nimbleness. The list goes on and on and on forever.
It’s interesting, however, that Jim Harbaugh’s leading the charge with this. Given how popular soccer is in America as a youth sport you’d think that more coaches would be pushing this same narrative, no? (h/t WSJ)