From satellite camps to coaching beefs to milk, chicken and the pope: A timeline of Jim Harbaugh's wild times at Michigan

In his time as Michigan’s head coach, Jim Harbaugh created media frenzies, dustups with coaches, viral moments with recruits and everything in between.

Hired in late 2014 to replace Brady Hoke as the Wolverines’ coach, Harbaugh wasted no time once in Ann Arbor ruffling feathers by poking at coaches for breaking rules and pushing the limits on what the NCAA would allow through satellite camps across the country.

He climbed trees, had sleepovers and made cakes for recruits to try to win them over. After three Big Ten titles, three College Football Playoff appearances and having delivered his alma mater its first national title since 1997, Harbaugh accepted the head-coaching job with the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Because he is departing the college football world, here is a look at some of his more memorable and viral moments since joining Michigan in 2014.

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Feb. 7, 2015: Harbaugh had a commitment from ESPN 300 running back Mike Weber, a top prospect out of Detroit Cass Tech, in the 2015 class. Weber decommitted from the Wolverines in the middle of the fourth quarter of the team’s loss to Maryland in the 2014 season.

Harbaugh fought to get Weber back in the class, but the running back ultimately signed with Ohio State. Weber said at the time that Buckeyes running backs coach Stan Drayton was a big part of his commitment, but Drayton left to take the same position with the Chicago Bears the day after Weber signed his national letter of intent with Ohio State.

Harbaugh took the opportunity to seemingly tweet about the situation.

Weber stuck with Ohio State and played four seasons for the Buckeyes before he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2019 NFL draft.

March 3, 2015: Harbaugh is known to be a fan of TV star Judge Judy, even attending a taping of her show with his father, Jack.

So, he naturally took to Twitter to congratulate Judge Judy on a contract extension.

He has since played cards with the judge and has publicly talked about his admiration for her and the show.

“I’m a big fan of the ‘Judge Judy’ show,” Harbaugh told reporters at the 2013 NFL combine. “And when you lie in Judge Judy’s courtroom, it’s over, your credibility is completely lost, you stand no chance of winning that case. So, I learned that from her. It’s very powerful.”

March 14, 2015: The 2016 recruiting class is when Harbaugh really started to pull out all the stops on the recruiting trail. The staff put a ton of effort and creativity into recruiting ESPN 300 defensive lineman Boss Tagaloa, from California.

That included Harbaugh recreating a “promposal” poster that Tagaloa used to ask someone to prom. Harbaugh posed for a picture with a sign of his own that read, ‘UM will be sour without you, so let’s make it sweet. MICH?’

Tagaloa, however, ended up signing with UCLA.

April 24, 2015: The satellite camp idea was born. Harbaugh’s plan was to host football camps around the country, especially in SEC states.

One of the first big ideas that Harbaugh implemented ruffled the feathers of many other college coaches. Then-Alabama coach Nick Saban called the camps “ridiculous.” Harbaugh was accused of creating the camps as a recruiting tool, knowing that some conferences wouldn’t allow their programs to travel more than 50 miles to attend high school camps.

Harbaugh tweeted out an invitation to any other college coach who wanted to attend Michigan’s camps.

To get around the 50-mile rule for some schools, Harbaugh included an invitation for those coaches to come as guest speakers.

Then-ACC commissioner John Swofford said at the time that his conference would be in favor of a rule that would prohibit satellite camps across the country.

“We just don’t feel like it’s a healthy part of the recruiting process in college football,” Swofford said at the time. “We may have to ultimately reconsider it if the rules continue to allow it, because we’re not going to put ourselves in a competitive disadvantage in recruiting if we were to feel like we were disadvantaged, but our primary purpose right now is to try to gain support for a national rule that prohibits it.”

The NCAA first banned satellite camps, which triggered one of Harbaugh’s first public criticisms of the organization, but then rescinded the ban and allowed the camps to continue.

June 4, 2015: The tour of satellite camps, called the Summar Swarm, was announced in June. It consisted of nine locations, starting in Indianapolis, traveling to Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, California and eventually finishing back in Michigan. At the stops, Harbaugh would often wear jerseys representing local teams.

The tour spanned eight days and cost Michigan $211,948 in total, according to FOIA requests by MLive.

June 5, 2015: The Summer Swarm had already garnered attention from media and coaches, but Harbaugh wasted no time increasing visibility by taking his shirt off while playing a pickup game at one of the camps.

He kept his signature khakis on while playing a game of shirts and skins.

“I was like a pig in slop,” Harbaugh said at the camp. “Man, you guys are in shape. You’ve got a heart for football, a face for football, and I love being around you guys. That was a fun, fun day.”

June 25, 2015: Once the Swarm Tour was over, Harbaugh was back in Ann Arbor, entertaining recruits. He took tight end recruit Naseir Upshur and a few others out for ice cream, which Upshur documented on Twitter.

This was one of the more tame recruiting events, but given that Harbaugh was fresh off his cross-country antics, it once again made news.

Aug. 12, 2015: Prior to the start of his first season as Michigan coach, Harbaugh told reporters that after the wild tour, viral headlines and more publicity than Michigan had seen in quite some time, he and the team would be headed into “submarine” mode.

“We’re going into a submarine, and you won’t see us for a while,” Harbaugh said at the time. “You won’t hear from us, you won’t see us, we’ll be working. We’ll be in a bunker until we decide we’re not.”

No one from the team emerged from the submarine publicly until Aug. 27, when a few players talked to the media. Offensive lineman Kyle Kalis was one of the first players to surface.

“It was definitely an experience,” Kalis said. “One that I’ll tell my kids about when I’m older. It’s definitely been a camp unlike any we’ve had before, and it’s going to pay dividends for us down the road.”

November 2015: Harbaugh’s diet plan was revealed.

“I take a vitamin every day. It’s called a steak,” he said. “I truly believe the No. 1 natural steroid is sleep, and the No. 2 natural steroid is milk, whole milk. Three would be water. Four would be steak. It goes with everything.”

Harbaugh, who once appeared in a “Got Milk?” ad, later told Dan Patrick that he didn’t like having anything less than whole milk at the team’s dining hall.

“We refuse to drink the candy-ass skim milk or the 1%,” Harbaugh said. “We refuse. We won’t have any of that.”

In 2016, Harbaugh was photographed at an Ann Arbor steakhouse ready to enjoy his favorite meal.

Nov. 18, 2015: Harbaugh had done the promposal recreation for recruits, and members of his staff had written letters, but they moved on to baking birthday cakes for their prospects.

Jonathan Jones was the recipient of only a birthday cake tweet, so he didn’t actually get to eat the cake. It’s the thought that counts, though, and maybe Harbaugh and his staff enjoyed some of the cake in honor of Jones and his birthday.

They did it again for defensive lineman Jordan Elliott, making a cake that was supposed to look like Elliot’s home state of Texas. It worked only briefly, as Eliott committed to Michigan but eventually flipped to Texas.

Jan. 14, 2016: Following a 10-3 season, Harbaugh took the recruiting tactics to another level and had a sleepover at kicker Quinn Nordin’s house. The justification was that there was no limit as to how long an in-home visit could last.

So, in Harbaugh’s mind, if he stayed the night and stayed the rest of the day, it was all still one visit.

News of the sleepover spread quickly, and Nordin’s neighbors decided to troll Harbaugh with a giant sign displaying the score of that year’s Michigan-Michigan State game, which the Spartans had won.

Harbaugh went to Nordin’s high school the next morning and eventually rode in the car with him to Ann Arbor for a visit.

Jan. 19, 2016: Harbaugh then traveled to the West Coast to continue recruiting Tagaloa, who got the promposal recreation. This time, Harbaugh attended class with the defensive tackle at his high school.

Jan. 19, 2016: Harbaugh stayed in California to recruit cornerback David Long.

They were outside of Long’s house, playing catch with Long’s siblings. Before they knew it, Harbaugh was climbing a tree.

“My little sister asked if he could climb the tree,” Long said at the time. “He was just trying to fulfill her request. He ended up putting my little brother up instead, because he never actually made it up.”

There was a picture that circulated online showing Harbaugh climbing the tree while wearing his khaki pants.

Jan. 20, 2016: The sleepover with Nordin was such a success that Harbaugh decided to do it again, this time with defensive end Connor Murphy.

Harbaugh had history with the Murphy family, because he recruited Connor’s older brother, Trent, to Stanford. Harbaugh babysat for Connor once when he was younger, but this time he was there recruiting the younger Murphy.

Feb. 24, 2016: The satellite camps created quite the dust-up among other coaches who weren’t happy about the decision to allow the camps to continue.

“[Michigan is] obviously trying to gain a competitive advantage, and obviously that’s their right,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said at the time. “But I think the NCAA in due time will have to step in and keep it from getting out of hand.”

That comment seemed pretty tame, but Harbaugh took offense to it and tweeted back at Smart.

Not much came from the exchange, but Harbaugh wasn’t done calling out opposing coaches.

March 3, 2016: Harbaugh and his staff were getting ready for their camp at IMG Academy in Florida, when then Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said he would attend, along with Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.

Dantonio joked with Bielema that they could meet in Florida for lunch, which caused then-Tennessee coach Butch Jones to say he, too, would meet them for lunch in Florida.

That didn’t sit well with Harbaugh, who subtweeted Jones by calling him his “Rocky Top colleague.”

April 2, 2016: This is when Harbaugh began going on stage with rappers. That included joining Lil Dicky, who was performing in Ann Arbor, for a rendition of the national anthem.

April 13, 2016: Just 11 days after going on stage with Lil Dicky, Harbaugh spent time with rap group Migos before their concert in Detroit.

The group asked Harbaugh to come on stage and dab with them, so they naturally had to ice him out with jewelry before he made his appearance.

Harbaugh did go on stage and was doused with water while dancing during the concert.

Harbaugh would later invite the group back to Ann Arbor.

May 31, 2016: Harbaugh was back to throwing shade at opposing coaches, this time at Saban.

At SEC meetings, Saban had talked about despising satellite camps and said college football was moving toward the wild, wild west. His comments drew the ire of Harbaugh and resulted in his tweet.

Saban later fired back at Harbaugh through reporters.

“I don’t really care what he thinks or tweets,” Saban said. “I say what I think is best for college football and the players.”

June 9, 2016: Harbaugh had built a relationship with the staff and administration at Paramus Catholic High School through recruiting Paramus players Jabrill Peppers and Rashan Gary.

The plan was for the coaches to come to Paramus Catholic for a satellite camp, but the NCAA put a temporary ban on the camps at the time. That led to Harbaugh coming to the school and giving the commencement speech for the graduating class.

The coaches were recruiting linebacker Drew Singleton and a few other players from the team, so it gave Harbaugh a chance to have a presence at the school.

July 18, 2016: Harbaugh continued appearing on the rap scene, this time with artist Bailey in a song called, “Who’s got it better than us?” That is, of course, Harbaugh’s signature saying.

July 14, 2016: Harbaugh ended the camp tour early, because there was fear of the Zika virus in American Samoa, where a camp was supposed to be held. He instead stayed in California and took a trip to Disneyland, where he ran into talk show host Jerry Springer.

Oct. 15, 2016: Recruiting in the San Francisco area, Harbaugh held the down marker on a chain gang at a high school game.

Nov. 12, 2016: Speaking of random, Harbaugh went on a radio show and spoke about his admiration for SpongeBob SquarePants.

“I love his attitude,” Harbaugh said at the time. “He attacks each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind! I’ve kind of modeled my behavior after him. We all should. What a great employee he is. He’s a go-getter. He’s always got a bounce to his step. He’s got pizazz. He puts his heart and soul into making those Krabby Patties. I think he’s awesome.”

April 26, 2017: Harbaugh started a tradition of taking the team to meaningful places during the offseason.

In 2017, he took the team to Italy, where Harbaugh had the chance to meet the pope. Of course, upon meeting Pope Francis, Harbaugh gave him a Michigan helmet and Jordan Brand shoes.

If you were hoping the pontiff would make an appearance while wearing the Jordans, it hasn’t happened yet.

April 28, 2017: While in Italy, Harbaugh did an impression of Maximus from the movie “Gladiator.”

And sang some opera for reporters.

Sept. 30, 2017: During a bye week, Harbaugh went to Michigan’s Water Carnival and participated in some of the platform diving. He, of course, did it in khakis.

He tried multiple times in what was determined to be a cannonball contest.

July 19, 2018: “Car and Driver” magazine went to Ann Arbor to do a video segment with Harbaugh and a Dodge Charger. Harbaugh drove to his childhood house, and then drove the car into the Big House and did doughnuts on the turf.

July 30, 2018: In a story in Bleacher Report, Harbaugh was quoted as telling quarterback Wilton Speight to avoid chicken “because it’s a nervous bird.”

Aug. 6, 2020: During a conference call among Big Ten coaches, Harbaugh reportedly interrupted Ohio State coach Ryan Day and asked him about a photo that showed then assistant coach Al Washington coaching the linebackers during a time on the calendar when it wasn’t permitted.

Day reportedly responded by telling Harbaugh to worry about his team. After the call, Bucknuts reported that Day told his team that Michigan should hope for a mercy rule, because they’re going to, “hang 100 on them.”

Sep. 15, 2020: This is the last time that Harbaugh tweeted, perhaps ending an epic run of one of the great Twitter beefers.

Nov. 28, 2021: After Day said Ohio State was going to hang 100 points on Michigan, the Wolverines beat Ohio State 42-27. Harbaugh wasted no time when asked in his postgame press conference what he thought of Ohio State’s trash-talking in recent years.

“Sometimes there are people standing on third base that think they hit a triple,” Harbaugh said at the time. “But they didn’t.”

Harbaugh eventually explained on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit that it was a shot at Day.

“It was definitely a counterpunch by me, to the comment that they were going to hang 100 on us, etcetera,” Harbaugh said on the radio. “Kind of like Sugar Ray Robinson.”

Jan. 20, 2022: While Harbaugh hasn’t been on social media, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t gone viral. While recruiting players at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida, he decided to do squats in the weight room.

Dec. 11, 2022: In-home visits with Harbaugh have already produced sleepovers and tree-climbing escapades.

In a seemingly tamer moment, Harbaugh helped wash the dishes at receiver Semaj Morgan’s house on a visit.

Feb. 22, 2023: Picture yourself driving on a road at night, when you come across a large tree blocking your way. Now imagine you look out your windshield to see Jim Harbaugh trying to move the tree in front of you.

That is exactly what happened to one driver near Ann Arbor, as Harbaugh made the news for helping a police officer move a tree out of the road. The ordeal was caught on the police camera and footage was later shared online.

Sep. 9, 2023: While serving a three-game suspension for NCAA recruiting violations, Harbaugh was back working with the referee crew.

Sep. 30, 2023: Defensive tackle Kenneth Grant intercepted a pass against Nebraska, which was quite the feat for a 6-foot-3, 339-pound lineman. After the game was over, when everyone was in the locker room, Harbaugh decided that the whole team should sing the song, “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” to Grant.

The song somehow stuck with the team and they sang it after every game this season.

Nov. 6, 2023: Pro wrestling icon Ric Flair and Harbaugh became friends when Harbaugh played for the Chicago Bears and have spent time together ever since.

Flair showed up to Ann Arbor for a visit in November and exited the building without his signature, “Woo.”

Nov. 13, 2023: Harbaugh sounded as though he was losing his voice, but insisted he wasn’t sick.

Instead, he insisted that he is the “iron wall that viruses bash against” and he’ll do “push-ups and eat an apple” to get better.

Nov. 20, 2023: In one of his final odd statements as Michigan coach, Harbaugh quoted Ted Lasso.

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