Is Harbaugh’s Most Recent Hire Unethical?

Jim Harbaugh has done it again, he’s managed to enrage his critics and excite his fans with one simple change to his coaching staff.

Michigan has hired California High School Coach Michael Johnson to join its staff, on the surface this doesn’t appear to be that controversial a move, after all, Johnson is extremely qualified for the job.  He has worked in the NFL and in college ball, particularly with wide receivers, a position which is currently unfilled on the Michigan staff.  Here is a list of Johnson’s coaching stops, Oregon State 1997-99 (WR’s coach), San Diego Chargers 2000-2001 (QB’s coach), Atlanta Falcons 2002-05 (WR’s, WBs), Baltimore Ravens 2006-2007 (WRs), San Francisco 49’ers 2009-2010 (QBs, OC), UCLA (OC, interim HC).

While all of this appears very innocent and above board, many Harbaugh critics are upset, because Michigan Johnson’s son, Michael Johnson Jr. is the top rated duel-threat QB in the country for the 2019 cycle which means he’s heading into his sophomore year in high school.  Clearly this looks like Harbaugh is recruiting dad to get his son.  This isn’t a new technique and it is one that Harbaugh has employed to its fullest since arriving in Ann Arbor.  Two current Michigan players, Devin Bush Jr and Henry Poggi, Sr. both have dads on the Michigan coaching staff, while former Wolverine Wayne Lyons’ mom Gwen Bush is currently the Michigan “team mom.”  Michigan TE Tyrone Wheatly Jr., dad was also on the staff and helped recruit his son to Ann Arbor.

The interesting point about Johnson’s hiring is; he is simply an off the field analyst, until the NCAA approves a 10 on field coach.  They are expected to approve a tenth on field coach soon, in that case it is assumed that Johnson would become the WR’s coach for the Wolverines.  Additionally, if he is the tenth on field coach, he could recruit is own son to the Wolverines, if he is just a staff, according to NCAA rules he the son is required to be two years away from enrollment.  As a sophomore to be in high school, Johnson Jr. would be allowed to be recruited by his dad.

Harbaugh and company have done nothing wrong, all of this is above board and legal, however, critics are not thrilled about this new trend in college football but it isn’t against the rules.  Ethical or not, it is another loophole in the system brought to light by Jim Harbaugh and again the college football world has taken notice.