Harbaugh Hysteria: Paramus Catholic Big House Game


Paramus Catholic, a prep school in New Jersey, is the new epicenter for the latest Jim Harbaugh controversy.

Paramus Catholic produced Michigan standout Jabrill Peppers and 2016 signee Rashan Gary; Harbaugh hosts one of his much-debated satellite camps there this month, much to the chagrin of Rutgers staff; and 2017 linebacker Drew Singleton is a top priority of the Wolverines recruiters.

And now, Singleton and his Paramus Catholic teammates will open their 2016 season in Ann Arbor at the Big House.

Sound the Harbaugh Alarm! The man whose every move is documented with a breathy eagerness — right down to fashion choices — is front-and-center in the next offseason debate.

I’m not ready to chalk Paramus Catholic’s game in the Big House to hot-take fodder just yet, because a legitimate discussion exists. Just how cozy can an individual college program get with a high school, and should a college team be allowed to use its facility to host high school teams?

Is this any different than the Longhorn Network airing Texas high school football? That’s a great parallel @miggiesmalls drew on Twitter.

You can anticipate a pained wail, and it will almost assuredly eliminate from the Southeast. Harbaugh’s the source of their consternation in SEC Country, but this isn’t an issue exclusive to college football’s King of Clickbait, nor recruit-rich Paramus Catholic.

Critics have a legitimate argument. As a recruiting tool, Michigan may very well be opening yet another can of worms. Alas, Harbaugh isn’t treading in unfettered territory.

I’m reminded of the 2007 GOAZCATS.com Showdown. The marquee matchup featured University of Arizona basketball recruit Brandon Jennings’ Oak Hill team played at McKale Center.

Now, this analogy gives some fodder to critics of Michigan’s planned prep showcase — Arizona received NCAA sanctions for violations tied to the event, but not the event itself.

But, should the NCAA start policing college venues hosting high school games, it’s going to impact far more than the handful of Michigan prospects on the Paramus Catholic roster. High schools play at colleges with some regularity.

It’s also not as simple as policing on the basis of recruits, either. Take the Oct. 22 doubleheader slated for the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Banning and San Pedro of the South Bay, and city powers Crenshaw and Dorsey face in a pair of rival contests.

Crenshaw and Dorsey have produced a number of Pac-12 prospects in recent years, like former Oregon standout De’Anthony Thomas (Crenshaw) and Washington’s do-everything spark plug, Jaydon Mickens (Washington). Both schools have D-I talent on their 2016 teams. Ditto San Pedro, which has an offensive tackle, Nick Ford, committed to Nevada.

Should the NCAA nix this game on the possibility USC might recruit one of the athletes involved, and the potential influence playing in the Coliseum presents?

Likewise, on the very same day PC plays St. Frances Academy, Clarkston High plays Lapeer. Neither of these local schools features the kind of blue-chip caliber prep talent at Paramus Catholic and St. Frances.

What we have here is a nuanced topic. No group is collectively as prepared to address nuance as college football media, especially when Jim Harbaugh is involved. Right?