Sunday, December 17, 2017
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For now, we're all orbiting Harbaugh

USF football coach Willie Taggart was talking about his friend with the thousand-yard stare, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. Taggart and Harbaugh will again hold a joint camp, June 4, on USF's campus.

On June 3 — one day — Willie's friend Jim will hold three satellite camps in Florida. Oh, and one in Australia. It's all true.

Willie's friend Jim currently plans on 28 camps across 15 states. There's talk of Hawaii being added — and Samoa. It's becoming clear that Harbaugh won't rest until he holds a satellite camp on an actual satellite.

"Jim is going to go where he needs to go," Taggart said.

When the short-lived NCAA ban on satellite camps was lifted, the gun sounded for the great land rush on talent-rich Florida.

There will be camps all around Tampa Bay next month. There's the Michigan-USF camp. There will be a camp at Plant High hosted by Florida A&M. There will be a camp at Jefferson High with dozens of top-flight programs represented. Auburn is planning on a camp at Tampa Catholic. There might even be one at your house. Remain calm. And check with Jim.

Satellite camps aren't a bad idea unless you factor in Harbaugh's six shades of crazy. They put hundreds of kids in front of coaching eyes that might never see them. And it's an all-day buffet for smaller schools looking for talent. Not everyone can go to Michigan. Or USF.

"Instead of them coming to us, we go to them," said Taggart, who has held camps across the state since he became USF coach. Taggart and his staff spotted future Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols in Miami. "That's where we saw his compete level. We have a lot of stories like that."

USF had about 300 players at its own on-campus camp last year. When Harbaugh came to town for the joint camp, the number jumped to about 500. "Jim's a draw, a big, big draw," Taggart said.

Taggart was first drawn to Harbaugh when Harbaugh recruited him to play quarterback at Western Kentucky for Harbaugh's father. Taggart coached under Harbaugh at Stanford. He knows his relentless ways. "He's not going to stop," Taggart said.

But leave it to Willie's friend Jim to make people howl in anger. Harbaugh has other programs and staffs chasing his runaway train.

It was Harbaugh who got an 'A' for audacity by taking his Wolverines to train at Bradenton's IMG Academy as part of spring practice. The ACC and SEC went bananas, particularly SEC coaches who acted as if this threatened the conference's very existence, seeing as it has only won eight of the previous 10 national championships.

"He always thinks of a master plan," Taggart said of Harbaugh. "It always works. Even training down at IMG, he wasn't pushing any envelope. He was just doing something different. No one thought of it. He did and he got the criticism. (Teams) are invading the South regardless. ... We still get players. We have a lot of war daddies in the state of Florida."

War daddies.

Willie's friend Jim nevertheless endangers the future of satellite camps by being so Jim about it. Harbaugh didn't invent these camps. He is merely scheduling them to death.

Taggart doesn't see it that way.

"I'm not even sure this would be getting this attention if it wasn't for Jim doing it," he said.

"Everybody hates him so much because of how he is, but what they really hate is that he thought of a damn good idea."

Jim Harbaugh is roaming our planet at will. It's only a matter of time before he forces the NCAA to limit the number of camps or everyone else picks up the pace, whether they like it or not. You just wait until Urban Meyer and Nick Saban go global. Harbaugh will be trapped.

Jim's friend Willie laughed.

"First man to Mars?" Taggart said.

We're awaiting a launch date.

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