Yes, it’s true. Jim Harbaugh says he’s going to sleep at the house of Quinn Nordin, arguably the nation’s top kicking prospect. And a sleepover by a college coach at a prospective student-athlete’s house is permitted under the NCAA’s rules. So when Harbaugh pulls up at Nordin’s place at 12:01 a.m. Friday—as has been reported by Allen Trieu from Scout and other media outlets—that’s acceptable, according to the organization overseeing major collegiate sports. It may seem a bit creepy, but it’s allowed.
Why would Harbaugh want to do this? And how is it okay?
First, Harbaugh is obviously making a hard push to keep Nordin, a senior at Michigan’s Rockford High School, in state. With football’s National Signing Day coming up on February 3, he has a limited window in which to do so. After the “dead period” in which coaches aren’t allowed to contact athletes expires at midnight tonight, Harbaugh is allowed to have only one in-person, off-campus visit with Nordin. However, the wording of the rule governing that visit allows the coach a lot of leeway. NCAA Rule 22.214.171.124 states:
On Same Day. Any number of contacts made during the same day (defined as 12:01 a.m. to midnight) shall count as one contact.
Basically, the visit can take as many hours as the coach wants (or that the athlete or his parents will tolerate). If Harbaugh rolls in at 12:01 and stayed until the following midnight, he’ll be fully compliant with the rules. Or his visit could consist of several in-person encounters (a cup of coffee, lunch, dinner, and apparently watching movies at 1 a.m.) as long as they all occur within the same 24-hour period.
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When contacted, a representative for the NCAA said he was unaware of the situation. Asked about sleepovers as a part of the recruiting process, he stated that it is unconventional but would not violate the organization’s rules.
Nordin verbally committed to Penn State; however, he is able to change his mind. Of the just-past-midnight visit from Harbaugh, Nordin said, “I was in tears laughing when [Harbaugh] said that. He said the next day, if my parents didn’t want me to miss school, he would go to every class with me and go to lunch with me. I was laughing so hard.”
Not everyone at Nordin’s school is thrilled at the idea of Harbaugh and Nordin hanging out in class together. Rockford High School Principal Dan Zang said he would not allow it to happen.
“Coach Harbaugh is welcome to use our conference room for a short visit with Nordin, just as other Big Ten coaches routinely do with potential recruits. We will not permit Harbaugh to attend classes with Nordin, as that would be too much of a distraction for students,” Zang said. “This isn’t going to become a circus.”
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Harbaugh’s sleepover stunt may be the latest, but it’s by no means the only strange and perhaps awkward tactic that big-time college coaches have tried in order to snag a top recruit.
Alabama coach Nick Saban reportedly sent running back Alvin Kamara 105 letters in one day, each containing a different personalized message on why Alabama is the right choice. Kamara signed with Alabama, but transferred after one season.
In 2014, Rice University received a commitment from quarterback J. T. Granato after sending a recruiting letter to his cat, Kitty Granato. It reportedly read, “As you know, we’re trying to convince J. T. [that] Rice is the place for him. I know you’d like to keep him close so he can feed you and change the litter box.”
Nebraska coach Bo Pellini challenged a 2014 recruit, Tanner Farmer to a wrestling match while on an in-home visit. Tanner, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound offensive lineman, hesitated until his dad, Brian, told him “if he wants to go, go.” Tanner lifted Pellini over his head and then gave him a bear hug. He signed with Nebraska, ultimately giving Pellini the “win.”
And earlier this year, Michigan’s Tight Ends coach Jay Harbaugh—Jim’s son—sent a handwritten letter to a prospect’s girlfriend.
Students, would you want a coach to show up at your house at night? Parents, would you allow a college coach to sleep over? Tell us your thoughts on Twitter, @STACKMedia, and @CRS4U to reach the writer directly.