Thursday, August 09, 2007

Jim Harbaugh is a Huge Hypocrite

Let me preface the following post with the following disclaimer: None of the claims that I am about to make should in any way, shape, or form be taken as me deriding someone's degree or program. I graduated with a degree in Sports Management and Communications. I see it all the time from people trying to knock Michigan's program (usually the Sparties): "Kinesiology is just something they invented to funnel all the football players into." It bugs me when they say it, it's annoying when asshats like Jim Carty write about it up on their high horse when they know nothing about the program, and it's still annoying now that General Studies is the main target.

Moving on.

The Harbaugh/Hart controversy has stirred up again, in the light of Jim Harbaugh's comments to Pat Forde in a column that ran on tonight. In it are several very hypocritical remarks by Harbaugh (which I'll get to in a minute) along with Forde drawing conclusions off some very limited information and knowledge (such as his statement that he's never seen an entire Junior class having not declared degrees, when at Michigan it is VERY common to not declare until Junior year--which has since been corrected in a sidebar).

Harbaugh's first new remark is that Hart's comments were "orchestrated and organized" and that "when I was a player, nobody would've said what Mike Hart said about me" due to fear of what Bo would do to said player. He also mentions that Bo taught him to speak his mind.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but was Mike Hart not doing exactly what Bo would've taught--at least in Harbaugh's head? To speak his mind, and speak the truth as he knows it? Seems to me that's exactly what Hart did. And defended his school against an unfair accusation to boot.

It's also ironic that Harbaugh brought up Bo's teachings, being that he all but admitted to Jamie Morris that he wouldn't have made the comments he did if Bo was still alive.

Then he goes on to attack the General Studies degree, saying that "we don't have one of those at Stanford" and "In my opinion, that degree does not give you the skill set to compete in the working world."

So now we're not just tearing down the student-athletes on the football team, we're also going after the 200 or so students at Michigan majoring in General Studies. And that's after we've gone after Communications majors, since apparently Harbaugh was wronged by being "pushed" into that concentration. And that's after we went after the "Sports Communications" majors like myself, who he attacked in his original comments.

What I really want to know, though, is when the fuck did Jim Harbaugh become an expert at General Studies, and how on Earth does he know if it gives you "the skill set to succeed in the working world"? It's simple. He doesn't. I would be willing to bet that the man couldn't tell you one thing about that major, apart from the fact that a lot of football players are in it and therefore it must be easy. Never mind the fact that it requires half the credits taken to be 300 level classes or higher. Never mind the fact that it's a pretty flexible major, which is nice for athletes who have a very limited block of time for classes. Or that it doesn't require a foreign language, which is attractive to a lot of us, not just athletes.

Has he had a lot of experience himself in the "working world" (and I'm speaking of the one that most of us go into, not the world of professional football)? Has he seen a lot of examples of General Studies students becoming bums on the street since their degree didn't prepare them for the real world? Of course not. He was talking out of his ass, and Forde printed the quote, followed by a remark that if football players are in that program so disproportionately to the student body compared to the student body as a whole, they must be funneled into it.

Pat Massey for instance, was a General Studies major. He was in the program that Harbaugh denounced as, essentially, useless. Massey is now working for KeyBank in Cleveland in the same group as a friend of mine, who graduated from Michigan's Business School. Now, he may have been one of the smarter guys on the team. I don't know. But he ended up in General Studies, got his degree, and seems to be making the most of it. And yet, Harbaugh lumps him right in with those other people who "don't have the skill set to make it in the real world".

And for Crissakes, Harbaugh wanted to major in HISTORY (remember the disclaimer). Would he have been a teacher? What skill set would majoring in History have given him that majoring in Communications (or General Studies) wouldn't have?

You want to talk majors and proportions? Oh good! I was hoping you'd say that. And this is where that disclaimer above comes in.

I went through Stanford's website and found the majors for their football players. And some information popped up that was extremely interesting, to say the least. Of the 101 players listed, 52 of them are undeclared. Of the remaining 49 players, what do you reckon was the second most popular major? If you guessed that very communications degree that Harbaugh is so offended to have been pushed into, you guessed right. 14.3% of the players with declared majors are majoring in Communications vs. 1.55% of the student body as a whole (which includes Journalism students, so the percentage is likely lower than that). I hope the seven guys on his team that are Comm majors are really happy with Coach since he apparently doesn't think they're going anywhere in life.

So now about that random degree that almost nobody in the school majors in, but a disproportionate amount of football players Michigan it's General Studies. At Stanford, I believe it's called Science Technology & Society. According to the Stanford STS website, there are 58 STS majors in the school. 58. That works out to .9% of the 6,400 undergrads. Want to know how many football players major in it? 9. Or 15.5% of the entire major (which dwarfs the Michigan team making up roughly 10% of General Studies). And since I know nothing about STS except for the fact that a lot of football players are majoring in it, I'm going to assume that it's easy, useless in the grand scheme of things, and say that Harbaugh and his predecessors are pushing players into it because they can't handle the "real" majors.

Here's the list of Stanford football team majors if you're interested:

Undeclared: 52
Science Technology & Society: 9
Management Science & Engineering: 7
Communications: 7
Sociology: 6
Poly Sci: 5
Public Policy: 4
Engineering: 3
Computer Sci: 2
Philosophy: 2
Intl Relations: 1
English: 1
Classics: 1
Economics: 1

Yup Jimmy, you've got a team of actual rocket scientists on your hands.
I'm not going to sit here and say that every football player that Michigan brings in could've gotten in in their own right. It's not true. But these players bring a skill that normal students don't have and that the university is looking for.

To me, the most important thing that athletics brings many of these "borderline" players is a chance. A chance to get a degree from a top-notch university, which they might not otherwise have gotten. Many of them will take that degree and use it as a way to open a door. We don't always know the circumstances for why a player is borderline. Maybe he was in a terrible school system (many of them are). Maybe he took the path of least resistance through school, being spoon-fed because he was an athlete, and he has the potential to do good things academically and just hasn't shown it. Maybe he's just dumb. We don't know.

But what I do know is this: A degree in it of itself won't make a person successful. But if you've got one from an institution like Michigan and you're willing to work hard, a degree can be the thing that opens the door. And these "borderline players" that get in...if they can cut it, they're getting a degree that they might not otherwise have gotten a chance to get. I don't call that abandoning them when they're out of school and no longer on the football team. I call it giving them the best possible chance to be successful in a life outside of football. The school can only do so much.

If you're smart, you're smart. If you're dumb, you're dumb. At some point, the player has to be accountable for what happens in his own life, just like any of us. And if he's too dumb or too lazy to make it in the real world, well, then he didn't take advantage of the chance he got and that his athletic talents got him. But I refuse to believe for a second that there has ever been a player who would've been a dynamite Engineer, was shuttled into Sports Management because he was an athlete, and is now a failure because of it. And that seems to be what Harbaugh is implying when he talks about players being pushed into soft majors and then abandoned when they're out in the real world.

Let me make one final comment. I love Jamie Morris. I worked with him in Michigan Sports Marketing for the better part of a year. If you know the man, you know how much it probably hurt him to say what he said to Jim Harbaugh. That's not a man who likes to burn bridges. The nature of his job in Development suggests that. If he told Jim Harbaugh to "lose my cell phone number", then he really believed that Harbaugh was completely and utterly in the wrong on this one. And that's good enough for me.


Unknown said...

Great job! Jim Harbaugh is simply not qualified to give his opinion regarding anything other than football (and I bet if you asked Ditka, he would tell you that Jim shouldn't even do that). Forde should consider his role in providing a platform for another asshole and his valueless opinion.

Anonymous said...

As someone who is a Sport Management and Communication Studies double major @ UM and not an athlete, those comments are not appreciated whatsoever. He really burned bridges with Michigan this time.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

I've been waiting for someone to analyze the majors of Stanford's football team. Quite illuminating.

mtzlblk said...

I have a B.G.S degree and my varied classwork in anything from computer programming to classes in the law school and graduate business school to biology, chemistry, poli sci, literature and film have been FAR more useful to me than having been rstricted into either a liberal arts or science degree. I work as an exec in a strategy role at technology/media/entertainment start-ups in Silicon Valley and in Europe and do everything from produce videos (my film classes), to coding ( a while ago, but still), develop massive streaming playout systems for video/audio on mobiole phones for partners like AT&T, Sprint, Vodafone and several others. A narrow track LSA or Science degree would not have served me nearly as well.

Please do what you can to get these stats in front of someone that matters, like the ESPN writer to follow up with so people can see Harbaugh for what a douche he really is. He was at UM right before me and people i knew that were familiar with him say he was an asshole and spent a good amount of his time there chasing high school gilrs, so perhaps education wasn't really his top priority anyway.

Packer487 said...

Steve...I can see how that'd be very beneficial. It's kind of cool that you can tailor your education toward what you want to end up doing with it. So rather than taking a BS class that you don't want to take because it's "required" you can take something you're interested in. Thanks for the insight!

I've emailed both Jim Harbaugh and Pat Forde. Haven't heard back from either of them (yet?) but Harbaugh did respond to one Michigan fan's emails earlier in the day.

The problem is that the damage has been done. Even if Harbaugh came out and said "I was wrong for criticizing a degree I knew nothing about and I apologize to all the students and alumni of that program" and Forde admitted that he didn't research that article as well as he probably should have, the retraction never ends up on the front page of

Anonymous said...

Excellent Post. Any information on the Forcier transfer? I think that clearly shows Stanford wants to be just like Michigan....especially "damning" would be his GPA --- I'm sure he was a fine student-athlete, but doubt he measures up to the stanford standards that Harbaugh is crowing about.

Anonymous said...

The author says "Let me preface the following post with the following disclaimer: None of the claims that I am about to make should in any way, shape, or form be taken as me deriding someone's degree or program."

And then later he says "And since I know nothing about STS except for the fact that a lot of football players are majoring in it, I'm going to assume that it's easy, useless in the grand scheme of things, and say that Harbaugh and his predecessors are pushing players into it because they can't handle the "real" majors."

Good job.

Packer487 said...


That was kind of the point.

I was using your head coach's logic on that one.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you used the old "unveiling someone's lack of logic by being illogical yourself" trick! Sorry, it went over my head.

Packer487 said...

Well...your coach disparaged a degree from Michigan without knowing ANYTHING about it, simply because it had a high concentration of football players.

There's a higher percentage of football players in STS at Stanford than there is in the General Studies program at Michigan. A randomly selected football player is almost 20 times more likely to be an STS major than someone in the general student population.

Just sayin'.

Pretty easy to note the sarcasm in the original post. And if you recognized it, which you seem to imply in your second comment, then there was really no point to your first comment.

mtzlblk said...

I live in San Francisco right now, about 45 minutes from Jimmy's office and I know some higher ups on the faculty at the Stanford B-school through an entrepeneur program I am involved with, I am sort of considering bringing some heat on him, but then again I would look like a moron for even caring.

mtzlblk said...

LOL. I am imagining Harbaugh getting someone in his office to brief him on this 'Science & Technology degree thing' that he knew nothing about and maybe start looking into why so many of his own players haven't declared as of yet ;)

I hope this continues to bite him in the ass, we should track every one of his incoming recruits on a web page somewhere, comparing their application credentials to the norm at Stanford to determine if they would qualify as a non-athlete and then track all the players as they go through and declare majors with a few simple stats to go along with it like; % of juniors undeclared, % in S&T, % of players that fall below the standards for admission.

That would put a serious criomp in his recruiting if it got enough publiicity and would call him out on a continual basis during his tenure b/c I guarantee you he won't be adhering to his own prescritpion for academic excellence.

Here's hoping he doesn't win even 1 game this year or ever and ends hhis career trying to sustain his rigorous academic standards at a juco somewherein
North Dakota.

Anonymous said...

Just so I can summarize the UM response to JH's comments: just because football players are disproportionately drawn/pushed or choosen on their own, general studies does NOT make it a "lacking" major, and, here's one anecdote for how it is actually a good major...

What's missing are responses to the general claim--that UM is an elite academic institution, and a football factory.

Honestly answer the basic criticism here, is UM a football factory that does not care for the vast majority of its players who will NOT go pro? JH should not have said what he said, and his use of majors as a basis for calling UM a "factory" was probably off-base, but was he right (in general)? Are you proud of UM football/basketball athletes? Do you feel it is a fair tradeoff for the kids? Are they supported when they finish, what are the grad rates and employment prospects for ex-footballers majoring in general studies? JH's comments provided no evidence to answer these questions, but the UM responses ignore them as well. Here is where I think JH was correct (though convoluted in setting the argument up), UM has a choice-- they can set as high a standard of academics as they want, or they can ignore the academic side as long as the kids play football.

According to all the UM responses, UM really just cares about not being singled out for being a factory, or that the anecdotal evidence provided by JH is false, but there's no one refuting the larger point. That seems telling.

Anonymous said...

Here's some info on one of Harbaugh's targeted recruits: I don't know where his GPA/SAT fall among Stanford students, but I'm 100% sure its well below average:

Michael Thomas, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound three-star cornerback/wide receiver from Nimitz High School in Houston, Texas, has over 20 scholarship offers.

"Coach Jim Harbaugh and the whole coaching staff came after me really hard," he said.

The Cardinal (recruiting the hardest) lead solidly over Northwestern, Baylor, Penn State and Boise State.

He reports a 3.4 core GPA and a 950 SAT, which he is retaking in October. "Stanford told me they'd like me to get at least a 1200 on the SAT."

Anonymous said...

again, and... is there any real response from UofM fans except: "everyone who says stuff about us a hypocrit..." ?

Does UofM request a 1200 SAT from anybody (heck, does one starter have a 1200)? I don't know, just wodnering. I've heard why we should not believe JH, but have not heard anything really defending UofM.

Is Michigan a factory? Do you care about your players beyond the field? Have you made that decision consciously, are the knee jerk reactions to JH just because he dared to say something aginst UofM?

Packer487 said...

The whole point--and the reason for the defensiveness (at least on my part)--is that Harbaugh throws these accusations out there, but he has no data to show that U of M "abandons" its players after graduation. Same as his comment that "A General Studies degree doesn't give you the skill set to succeed in the working world." He has nothing to back that up.

What experience does Harbaugh have with that degree? What experience does he have with ANYONE that has a BGS degree? What experience does he even have with the "working world" beyond football?

But since if you want some data to see that Michigan doesn't abandon their players after graduation, I think I can help.

The only real data that I've got about players after graduation came in the form of a report on 45 of the players from the 1997 National Championship team that came back for a golf outing.

Let's take a look at what they're doing now (pulled from a poster on a Michigan message board, so I don't have to retype it):

Zach Adami (C) - I looked at to find his major, but they didn't have a profile for him. Adami is a trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, trading options on the Eurodollar. He's aslo a partner in a small company, Redrock Capital Management, with former U-M linebacker Dave Dobress and several others.

Jeff Backus (OT) - General Studies major per and starting O-lineman on the Detroit Lions.

Kraig Baker (PK) - Sports Management and Communications. He's an account executive for Management Recruiters International, based in Chicago. He's also worked for a manufacturing company in Indiana, managed a restaurant in Virginia Beach and played some Arena Football.

Dave Brandt (OL) - School of Education - majored in Elementary Education. Played 3 years in the NFL. Says he's a stay at home dad.

Kevin Bryant (WR) - General Studies. He owns his own company, KB Solutions of Detroit, which privdes a variety of electrical services.

Mark Campbell (TE) - Movement Science. In his ninth season in the NFL.

Clint Copenhaver (LB) - Sports Management and Communications. Sales representative for sporting goods giant Mizuno--covers state of Michigan for the company.

Scott Driesbach (QB) - Physical Education. Playing football with the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League.

Juaquin Feazell (LB) - Psychology. Works as a medical malpriatice attorney in Georgia for the firm Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover. Received his law degree at Georgia State ans has been practicing law for four years.

Jay Feely (PK) - Physical Education. NFL with the Falcons, Giants and Dolphins.

Chris Floyd (FB) - doesn't have a profile for him. Floyd played in the NFL for three season. He then worked for six years with Michigan's S&C staff. Now teaches at Westside Christian Academy and works with Farrell Sports Concepts.

Steve Frazier (C) - General Studies. He's a commercial airlines pilot for American Eagle Airlines.

Ian Gold (LB) - Political Science. Seven years in NFL with Denver and Tampa Bay.

Brian Griese (QB) - Griese majored in Environmental Policy--I believe he got permission to design his degree from LS&A. Tenth year in NFL.

James Hall (DE) - Sports Management & Communications. Played with the NFL since college--Lions & St. Louis.

Tommy Hendricks (S) - General Studies. NFL through 2004.

Jeff Holtry (LB) - No major listed on the roster. Worked at Abbott Labs in Ann Arbor. Now serves as an orthopedic equipment representative for Stryker Corporation.

Chris Howard (RB) - No major listed on mgoblue roster. Just says he spent a few seasons in the NFL.

Steve Hutchinson (OL) - General Studies. NFL pro-bowler for two teams.

Jon Jansen (OL) - Physical Education major. NFL career with Washington Redskins.

Diaollo Johnson (S) - Sports Management and Communications. Works in real estate in Detroit.

Dhani Jones (LB) - It just says he was in the Residential College. Has played in NFL through 2006.

Marcus Knight (WR) - Computer Science. Plays with Columbus Destroyers in Arena Football League.

Eric Mayes (LB) - Earned his master's degree in educational technology in 2000. Completed PhD program in educational physicology at Howard University. Serves as an adjucnt professor at Howard and is Dean of Students at an elementary school in Washington, DC.

DeWayne Patmon (S) - Sports Management and Communications. Played two years in NFL. Lives in San Diego and has done a bit of acting.

Marcus Ray (S) - General Studies. Social worker in Columbus, Ohio school system. Will be moving to Ann Arbor to become graduate assistant for Wolverines. Coached football for several seasons at Ohio Dominican.

Rob Renes (DL) - Secondary Education major. Brief career in NFL due to injury. Teaches at middle school in Muskegon and is finishing master's degree in educational leadership at Western Michigan this summer. Looking to be a school principal or athletic director.

Russell Shaw (WR) - No link to profile on roster. He's currently playing in the Arena Football League.

Aaron Shea (TE) - Sports Management and Communications. He's played in the NFL since college.

Chris Singletary (LB) - Sports Management and Communications. Currently Michigan's recruiting coordinator. He spent seven years at International Management Group.

Glen Steele (DL) - No profile listed on roster. NFL career. Currently graduate assistant at Michigan.

Tai Streets (WR) - Sports Management and Communications. Long career in NFL, now teacher and coach back in Illinois (high school, I assume).

Rob Swett (LB) - No profile listed on roster. Owns his own home building company in Austin, Texas. Here's a quote from him: "My career at Michigan, and that year, helped define part of who I am. The success I've had in my life can be attributed to that season and learning what it takes to be a winner."

Sam Sword (LB) - Sports Management and Communications. Spent some time coaching. He lives in Florida and works in the city's recreation and parks department.

Daydrion Taylor (S) - Doesn't list his major, but does say he was in Kiniesology. Returned to Texas and is teaching high school, coaching track and the secondary on the football team.

Anthony Thomas (RB) - Sports Management and Communications. NFL career with Bears and Bills.

Jerame Tuman (TE) - Movement Science. Still in NFL.

Jason Vinson (P) - Biology. Pharmacist at hospital in Memphis, TN and professor at University of Tennessee pharmacy school.

Andre Weathers (CB) - Industrial Engineering. Plsyed pro football for a few year. Currently working as an industrial engineer and coaches defensive backs at Flint Central High School.

James Whitley (CB) - Sports Management & Communications. 3 seasons in the NFL. Doesn't say what he's doing now.

Josh Williams (DT) - Psychology. Just finished his NFL career. Currently involved in building and developing homes.

Eric Wilson (DT) - Sports Management and Communications. He's played football in Florida and Canada with the CFL. Owns a succesful cigar lounge in FL.

Charles Woodson (CB) - Sports Management and Communications. Still playing in NFL.

Chris Ziemann (OL) - Sports Management & Communications. Had a short career in NFL. Works in sales for Cintas in Florida.
So yeah, it seems like those guys are doing ok. That's only 45 out of a 100 person team (and only one group of players, to boot), but that also includes most (if not all) of the high profile players from that team, who I'd reason would be the most likely to be "not in school for education", no?

And that's more data than Jimmy Harbaugh provided.

Also if you read the "Destroy Harbaugh" post on mgoblog, he cites a study showing that football players have an advantage in the job market no matter the major, GPA, or SAT score.

So yeah, there's some data that these "borderlines" that Michigan apparently lets in in bulk have ended up making nice lives for themselves. At least partially thanks to a degree from the University of Michigan and the experience as a football player there.

Anonymous said...

Harbaugh is a hyprocite:

This spring he accepted a QB transfer from Michigan, Jason Forcier.

Here is Forcier's High School bio from

It says in high school he had a 3.0 GPA and 1080 SAT...

Some interesting questions:

1) What was Forcier's GPA at Michigan?
2) If Forcier was not a football player, would Stanford normally accept a transfer student from Michigan with Forcier's grades?
3) Would Stanford accept a student with a 1080 SAT and 3.0 high school GPA? PROBABLY NOT...

Harbaugh is a bloody HYPOCRITE... he has basically said that Michigan takes in football players who would not normally be accepted to the school...

Well then Jim:

We'll see who's the hypocrite now...

Anonymous said...

Jim Harbaugh said nothing that was untrue. I'm a Michigan alum and huge fan, and I find his comments to be apt. The Michigan Mafia likes to impute every loss to UM's higher academic (and moral) standards. Come off it. Big time college athletics is embroiled in a race to the bottom. Florida and Ohio State are winning that race. We as Michigan fans are just frustrated because we don't cheat as well as them.

Long live Harbaugh. I hope he gets the head coaching job after Lloyd is invited to retire.

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