ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Jim Harbaugh doesn't do anything at half speed. So it was no surprise that, when the NCAA freed him to run as many satellite camps as he desired, the second-year Michigan coach dialed up something approaching a world tour.
Harbaugh's current camp schedule includes 36 sites, with the school on Tuesday announcing camps in Las Vegas and Hawaii. Harbaugh and his staff will visit 21 states and two foreign countries, Australia and Samoa. That doesn't include the Wolverines' spring-break trip to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, during which the entire current team spent a week of spring practice on the road.
Someone has to pay for all this traveling, of course. And the person writing the checks says he's fine with Harbaugh's itinerant itinerary.
"I have a good sense of what he's trying to do, why he's trying to do it and why he wants to go to the places he wants to go," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said Tuesday at the Big Ten Joint Group Meetings. "And I'm comfortable with where we are right now."
Michigan reportedly spent more than $200,000 on a more modest, seven-state camp tour last year. The budget for this latest camping spree could easily grow to well more than seven figures, especially considering the Australia and Samoa expeditions. Manuel said he doesn't yet know the cost of the full camp tour but said program donors have chipped in to defray some of the expenses.
Will the price be worth it? Michigan already has one of the most recognizable brands in all of sports. It's questionable how much recruiting or marketing advantage Harbaugh will gain by going to all of these camps.
Though the SEC and ACC howled about Harbaugh's invasion of their turfs -- so much so that they helped push forward a ban on satellite camps last month that was later overturned -- Manuel insisted Harbaugh isn't doing this for recruiting. He said Michigan, like most major programs, already knows "95 to 98 percent" of the prospects they plan to recruit before ever going to a camp.
Instead, Manuel said, Harbaugh wants to bring the sport and its fundamentals to as many places as possible.
"You have someone who has a desire and a willingness to put in the work and the time ... to talk about the good of football in a time where football has been perceived in some negative light," Manuel said. "Yes, it spreads the Michigan football brand out there in the world, but it really talks about the positive aspects of how to play the game of football. And it's an important thing for us to talk about."
That's a message many will find hard to absorb with a straight face. But Harbaugh will be touring all over the place until the NCAA decides whether to regulate the number of these types of camps. Is there any limit to Harbaugh's globe-trotting?
"There's a limit because there's a time limit in what he's trying to do," Manuel said. "The number is what it is, at this point. And I'm comfortable with it."