June 9, 2016
PARAMUS, N.J. — Back when word leaked out that Jim Harbaugh would be speaking at Paramus Catholic High School’s commencement ceremony this month, Rutgers coach Chris Ash said he wasn’t thrilled about it.
And when word came down shortly after that Harbaugh and Michigan would be headlining Paramus’ satellite camp in the same week, Ash and Rutgers were still less than excited about the news.
Paramus is less than an hour away from Rutgers’ campus. The school’s president, Jim Vail, invited Ash and his staff to attend the PC camp the minute it was announced. But Ash had other plans. Instead, he scheduled a camp roughly 30 minutes away — at the same exact time — and invited Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to join.
Asked Wednesday night after the conclusion of the Paramus camp if he had any issue with Rutgers or Ohio State creating a separate camp, presumably in competition with the Michigan-Paramus event, Harbaugh said absolutely not.
“I was all for it,” Harbaugh said. “All for it. Whatever’s best for the youngsters. The more opportunity for them the better. That’s my feeling on it.
“It really wasn’t competition at all. As coaches, there’s no competing going on. It’s just coaching the players. That’s all it is. Whatever’s best for (the players), I think is great.”
As has been the case at every stop on Michigan’s satellite camp tour, Harbaugh and his coaching staff ran Wednesday’s event at Paramus — a camp that featured more than 600 players and coaches from more than 40 colleges (including Maryland, Syracuse and Pittsburgh).
Before the event began, Vail addressed all the campers and coaches and explained that Paramus’ campus was not going to be a place where each individual coach would be allowed to push his (and his school’s) own agenda.
The theme of the day, per Vail, was coaching. He made it very clear, multiple times, that no recruiting would be permissible at the camp — which is in line with NCAA rule, as colleges are not allowed to actively recruit players at off-campus instructional camps.
Vail and Paramus received a fair amount of scrutiny locally in New Jersey from Rutgers supporters, who were not thrilled about the school’s willingness to welcome Harbaugh and Michigan with such open arms.
Michigan, of course, has had an extremely strong recruiting run in the state of New Jersey in recent years — beginning with the signing of Paramus star Jabrill Peppers in 2014. In 2016, Michigan netted Paramus defensive lineman Rashan Gary (the top-ranked player nationally) and finished with letters of intent from five of the top 10 players in the state of New Jersey.
Rutgers, by contrast, signed zero from that group.
Before the camp began, Harbaugh gave special thanks to Vail for “sticking his neck out” to make the event happen.
“He’s gotten some pushback from people,” Harbaugh said. “I think he’s a very strong man. I have a great amount of respect for Jim Vail.”
Some of that pushback happened Wednesday morning when a group of apparent Rutgers supporters trespassed onto Paramus’ campus — littering the field and campus with Rutgers magnets and various other items.
“I did hear about that,” Harbaugh said. “Very disappointing.”
The group — a Rutgers secret society named “The Order of the Bulls Blood” — penned a letter to NJ.com basically telling Harbaugh he was not welcome in New Jersey, imploring him to go home.
Harbaugh didn’t have anything specific to say about the group while speaking with reporters after the camp.
Instead, he took to Twitter.