The University of Michigan spent more money on a trip to Rome than some college football programs will make this season. Fortunately for Michigan, an anonymous donor will take care of the bill.
According to The Detroit Free Press, Michigan spent somewhere between $750,000 and $800,000 on that trip to Italy for the entire Michigan football program. The trip occurred after spring football practices, included a meeting with the Pope and a handful of Jim Harbaugh being Jim Harbaugh moments along the way.
For Michigan, the trip was advertised as a memorable learning experience for the program. After getting the door slammed shut on the idea of running spring football practices outside of the state of Michigan, Harbaugh joked about taking the entire team on a trip after spring practices. Michigan spared no expense in making it happen.
The trip to Italy may have just been the start for Michigan, as well. Harbaugh has hinted at coming up with other travel plans in the future for the university, and as long as there is someone to foot the bill for them, why wouldn’t they?
Michigan traveling abroad is a terrific recruiting tool disguised as merely an educational experience. Sure, it is an educational experience of a lifetime for many, but we all know the end game here. That is for Harbaugh to attract the top players in the recruiting world to build the strongest Big Ten contender he can. We’re not naive, and I, for one, am not blaming Harbaugh at all for this new way of life.
Coaches should absolutely be doing anything and everything they can to sell their program and make their program the most attractive option for high school players as they work to build the best team possible. If that means keeping those passports up to date and racking up some frequent flier miles, so be it if you can afford it. Even if this anonymous donor didn’t come through to take care of Michigan’s recent travel expenses, the school would be more than capable of handling the bill in the end.
Of course, not every school has the kind of funding Michigan has to organize a trip of this nature, and even fewer have donors and supporters with that kind of money to donate for such a cause.
When you can take an entire college football program and family to Italy for a week and not have to pay a cent for it, who’s got it better than Michigan?