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Was Michigan’s $350,000 Florida trip really worth it?

No offseason story got more attention in college football than Michigan and Jim Harbaugh’s controversial move to hold a week of spring practice at IMG Academy in Florida. Many wondered what the bill for something like that would cost.

We now know the cost, as the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News are reporting that the trip cost a whopping $350,000 for the athletic department.

If you’re breaking it down to 100 people on the trip…that’s nearly $3,500 per person.

The actual breakdown goes like this:

  • $107,148 on flights
  • $51,395 on ground transportation
  • $39,519 on per diems and meals not provided by their hosts

Oh, and there was the $146,912 spent on a payment to IMG Academy itself.

All of it adds up to one expensive trip and a lot of questions.

No doubt the players and coaches had a blast getting out of the Upper Midwest winter in February and heading to the sun and fun of Florida. Giving the players and coaches a chance to bond on a trip like that can be priceless.

However, let’s not mince words here — this trip was all about recruiting.

It’s the only thing that matters to Harbaugh in his effort to rebuild a nationally relevant program once again.

Spending five days in Florida when the rest of the college football world still is waiting to start their spring practices? That’s a massive advantage to the Michigan recruiting efforts.

True, the Wolverines were not able to talk to recruits during their trip, but with plenty of talent right on the IMG Academy campus just being there in person can make a difference. All those players were able to attend a Michigan practice without having to leave campus, as U-M opened up its final practice to the public in Bradenton, Florida.

All of the window dressing and publicity is great, but at $350,000 for one trip one has to wonder if it was really worth the expense?

One look at the current commitments to the 2017 class and it certainly looks like it was a lot of money for something that really didn’t pay off. Just one player from the entire state of Florida is currently committed to the class of 2017.

However, the 2017 recruiting cycle is far from over and the Wolverines are in on some of the best talent at IMG Academy itself and the state of Florida overall.

Names like Jordan Anthony (LB), Cesar Ruiz (C), Robert Hainsey (G) are all players at IMG Academy that Michigan have a good shot with this cycle alone. But, all of the work and expenses won’t matter much if none of them end up on campus.

Still, that’s $350,000 and the potential of not landing a single player from the place you just spent Spring Break at? It’s hard to say that was worth it, and even worse would be landing just a few players from the state at all.

Maybe there is a future Michigan star in the mix, and that would be the point of making a trip like this happen. But, can this really be something that happens a lot if the results aren’t there?

We are unlikely to know the full answer for another 4-5 years, but it certainly seems this was much more bluster than production off the field so far.

[ESPN]

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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