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Jim Harbaugh Thumbs His Nose at College Football Establishment with Rome Trip

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh may get under your skin, but don’t think for one second he isn’t smart. All one needs to do is look at his latest attention-grabbing move for proof of that. 

Just days after the NCAA’s Power (or as they are officially called — autonomous) 5 conferences voted (58-20) to prohibit off-campus practices while school wasn’t in session, Harbaugh announced that his team would head to Rome for three practices in late April.

No, not Rome, Ga. but the Rome. As in home to the Colosseum and the Pantheon and such.

It also means players are likely scurrying around to get passports taken care of. More importantly, it means Harbaugh has out-smarted the supposed thinkers of the game too.

The rule that was voted on just days before was a clear shot at what Michigan did last season on spring break. If you don’t remember, the Wolverines football program went down to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. and practiced during Spring Break.

It brought up plenty of ethical questions, given that IMG Academy fields a high school football program and just so happens to have players the Wolverines are recruiting on it. However, there was little Harbaugh’s detractors could do as it wasn’t against the rules in the least.

Opponents to Michigan’s trip to Florida over Spring Break sited “player quality of life” and the already crazy costs associated with college football. Those opponents had a great point in the latter one, as Michigan coughed up $350,000 to make the Florida trip happen.

If that was a lot of money, what is a trip to Rome going to run them? Don’t be surprised to see that thing exceed the $1 million mark.

Also don’t be surprised to see the autonomous 5 conferences come up with legislation banning practice from happening off-campus within a certain mileage of campus. After all, what would Illini practice be without Camp Rantoul or Northwestern without a trip to UW-Parkside to start fall camp?

Until that moment happens, Harbaugh continues to win the war of though and the war of ingenuity in getting his program the most attention possible in an otherwise dormant time of the year for eyeballs on college football.

Love him or hate him, Jim Harbaugh is going to do whatever it takes to get the advantage he wants at the University of Michigan — even if that includes going to Italy.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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