If you happen to follow the college football recruiting scene, you are well aware of the fact that no commitment is set in stone until the player signs on the dotted line. Whether it’s a recruit decommitting from a program or a coach taking back his original offer to a recruit, the entire process can be very shady at times.
While Brady Hoke was still the head coach of Michigan, he made an offer to a player name Erik Swenson, a four-star offensive tackle out of Illinois. Swenson, a lifelong Wolverines fan, committed to Hoke and his staff back in November of 2013, with the intention of finishing out his high school career and then heading to Michigan to live out his dream.
But when Hoke was fired, Jim Harbaugh was hired as head coach at Michigan and everything changed. On January 20th, 2016, just a couple of weeks before National Signing Day, Swenson announced he was decommitting from Michigan and that it was not his choice. Stories started to come out about how Harbaugh left Swenson and his family out to dry and how if it happened to him, it could happen to anyone.
While all of the stories were circulating about what happened, most of them coming from the Swenson camp, Harbaugh was unable to comment about the situation because of NCAA rules and regulations. He did tweet out the following cryptic tweet, but that’s about it.
"They said" artificial sweeteners were safe, WMDs were in Iraq and Anna Nicole married for love" … "They said"
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) January 22, 2016
Harbaugh recently told Chicago Tribune writer Teddy Greenstein his side of the story:
“From our perspective, the first time I met Erik was in the spring of ’15,” Harbaugh told the Tribune. “I had just gotten the job and introduced myself. He was a committed player for more than a year to Brady Hoke and his staff. I said: ‘Great to meet you and, hey, we have camps coming up. There’s a camp in June, and we really want you to come so we can see you.’ It ended up, after a couple of conversations, that he wasn’t going to come to camp.
“I said: ‘We’re going to be in Indianapolis in the beginning of June for a satellite camp. It’s closer to your home.’ He said no. I said, ‘We really need to see you for ourselves.’ He said, ‘Just evaluate my senior tape.’ ‘OK, that’s what we will do.'”
In evaluating that tape, Harbaugh saw what everyone did — a sinking level of play. At the same time, Michigan’s recruiting class was soaring, with massive talent flowing in from New Jersey and California.
“In October I asked Coach Drevno: ‘Talk to the high school coach and find out: Is (Swenson) hurt? Is he full strength?'” Harbaugh recalled. “The feedback we got was that he needed to get stronger. We said, ‘He needs to pick it up.’
“By the end of the season, December was rolling around and all we had to evaluate him was the tape. I said, ‘This class is going to be tight.’ We could not guarantee that we’d offer him aid. I said: ‘There’s still a good chance we’ll have a preferred walk-on spot. That we can guarantee. But we can’t guarantee a letter of intent in January.'”
To read the rest of Greenstein’s comprehensive story, which also includes the perspective of Swenson and his high school coach Mark Molinari, click the link below.