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Nebraska’s Mike Riley vs. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh on the Recruiting Trail

Mike Riley

Mike Riley

When it comes to how Nebraska head coach Mike Riley and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh go about their respective recruiting business, there is no comparison. There’s simply no bigger clash of personalities than this.

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Some are fans of Harbaugh’s methods, while others find it adorable, the way someone might find a toddler squaring off against Brady Hoke adorable. Then there are those that mock him and consider his shtick creepy.

Defensive lineman recruit Connor Murphy has shared a tale of interaction with the Wolverines’ coach that was likely a throwback to Murphy’s younger days.

"He got to my house around 1 a.m., we ate some banana bread and drank some ice cold milk," said Murphy. "That's his favorite, 2 percent milk, so we made sure to give him a whole gallon of that. We chatted it up probably for another hour and then hit the hay," quotes Murphy as saying.

He’ll participate in show and tell.

He’ll even climb a tree if your little sister asks nicely.

I’m anxiously waiting for the day Harbaugh takes the hot pepper challenge.

Apparently, none of that is Riley’s style. According to a parent closely involved in the recruitment of a current Nebraska Cornhusker, who requested their identity be kept anonymous, his act got old quickly.

This parent’s son was coveted by Harbaugh, meaning his antics quickly grew tiresome.

When asked about their opinion of him when he stopped by for visits they responded with a question of their own: “Would you want an overgrown child like that putting the ‘finishing touches’ on raising your son?”

Now that we’ve seen evidence of how Harbaugh runs his organization, it’s time to discover how Riley handles his. When Nebraska’s head coach stops by for a chat, is he a milk-chugging rascal as well?

“[He’s] mellow. Answers questions that one has about the program, school or how a player might fit in, but quickly can segue into stories and personal anecdotes (on both sides) about random stuff unrelated to football. It's called: getting to know you.”

Already, we can see that is Harbaugh is the flashy salesman working his tail off to sell you undercoating, while Riley is making sure the car has the engine specifications you want.

Riley’s interested in making sure you’re educated and making the right purchase with correct features for you personally. That approach has, and will continue to win recruits over while Harbaugh’s left with a painted face, juggling gallons of 2 percent milk.

There’s nothing wrong with going above and beyond, but it’s clear that Harbaugh’s moving into national butt-of-jokes territory already. While his stunts nearly always go viral, that’s not necessarily a positive. Riley’s face occasionally graces Twitter with a recruit, but you’re not going to see him doing something straight out of Jackass for our general amusement.

“[There’s] nothing earth-shattering with a Riley visit; just easy conversation. Like if you had the new neighbors from down the street over for a get-to-know-you meal. Harbaugh (in my opinion) just tries too hard. It’s obnoxious. Flattering, but obnoxious.”

That’s a fine word to describe what Harbaugh’s been lately. Obnoxious. He’s a goof, but his act is other coaches’ gain. Riley won’t be joining in and neither will Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, whose team won the Big Ten championship and participated in the College Football Playoff this past season.

“No, I am not planning any sleepovers. Just dealing with my own problems,” Dantonio told the Detroit Free Press.

It’ll be interesting to see how long these shenanigans continue. If Michigan gets stuck in neutral a few seasons down the road, even jumping through flaming hoops may not get Harbaugh off of the hot seat.

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and like his Facebook page.