By Matt Fortuna, Dr. Saturday
A high school coach with a talented son is taking a college job — and you’ll never guess who may be at the center of the move.
OK, so you probably (correctly) figured this somehow revolved around Jim Harbaugh. Whether there is anything overly-calculating here is open to debate.
Harbaugh’s latest staff addition — at a to-be-determined position — is Michael Johnson, head coach at The King’s Academy (Sunnyvale, Calif.). Johnson’s son just happens to be Michael Johnson Jr., a coveted quarterback recruit from the Class of 2019 who has offers from schools such as Florida State, Louisville and West Virginia.
Now, this isn’t Harbaugh’s first rodeo, as he had added former Paramus Catholic (N.J.) coach Chris Partridge to his staff and watched No. 1 recruit Rashan Gary — from Paramus Catholic — follow to Ann Arbor.
And while this certainly may prove to be forward-thinking — an NCAA proposal would ban programs from hiring prep coaches of prospective recruits “during a two-year period before a prospective student-athlete’s anticipated enrollment” — is there really anything that unseemly here?
Late in his playing career, Harbaugh played for the Chargers. And who was his position coach during that final season in San Diego, in 2000? Michael Johnson.
So there is a pre-existing relationship, and we all know how far those go when putting staffs together. Plus, Johnson has 10 years of NFL coaching experience and spent a few years as a college assistant as well.
And even if that aforementioned NCAA proposal does ended up passing, and if Johnson Jr. ends up signing with Michigan, then guess what? This would all still be legal anyway, assuming Johnson Jr. enrolls at Michigan in the summer of 2019 — more than two years after his father took a job with the Wolverines.
When it comes to legislation, Harbaugh once again appears to be playing chess while the NCAA, and his chief competitors, are playing checkers.