Is Moncrief Caught in Harbaugh/SEC Crossfire?

Jim Harbaugh has gotten under the skin of many in college football’s coaching elite, and he hasn’t even coached a game yet. His countrywide satellite camp tour drew the collective ire of southern coaches. Some have spoken out. Today it appears Auburn acted out by barring senior safety Derrick Moncrief from considering Michigan as an option.

Opposition to satellite camps makes strange bedfellows.

Or so it seems.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban made headlines last month when he voiced his disdain for the sudden proliferation of satellite camps.  That came directly on the heels of Jim Harbaugh emerging as the new poster child for the practice. Earlier in April Michigan’s new headman announced his program’s “Summer Swarm Tour.” It’s to be a nine day odyssey in early June during which the entire Michigan coaching staff will work nine camps in seven states, including Alabama.

It turns out that Saban wasn’t the only one riled up by Harbaugh’s unprecedented plan.  The prior objections of other southern coaches and administrators intensified after hearing the news.  Auburn headman Gus Malzahn and athletic director Jay Jacobs were among the most vocal.

"I think the SEC coaches last year made it clear that we'd like (bans on satellite camps like SEC’s to exist) throughout the country," Malzahn told the Montgomery Advertiser. "That was a stance after our last spring meetings and I still feel the same."

"Camps have been in the past a challenging thing to monitor and keep up with, and we've been very successful in our league of doing that, so let's don't create a new paradigm for everybody," Jacobs later told CBSSports.com. "Plus our league has done pretty well as far as recruiting goes as it is. It seems to benefit some schools that may be in the past had a history of success and now don't, so they're trying to grow their brand a little bit more. For us, we like where we are."

Those statements signaled an alliance many would consider unholy if they gave themselves time to think about it, but they’re too distracted by their newly common foe to do so.

Harbaugh responded to the criticism with a gesture that was both condescending and sincere at the same time. His announcement of Michigan’s own summer camp, dubbed “Exposure U,” included an open invitation to coaches across the country.  He even offered a special option for coaches from conferences with satellite camp restrictions to participate as guest speakers instead of instructors.

It was a well-played move to be sure, but a reply was inevitable.

Today it appears Auburn offered one.

Last week Gus Malzahn’s program announced the planned transfers of safety Derrick Moncrief, cornerback Kamryn Melton, and cornerback Joe Turner. That news seemed to be of little consequence to Michigan, but in Moncrief’s case there is a connection.  He hails from Prattville (Ala.) high, the school that produced 2015 Wolverine commitment Keith Washington, and 2016 Wolverine commit Kingston Davis.  It is also the location of the satellite camp being worked by the Michigan coaching staff on June 5th.

Moncrief transferred to Auburn from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College last year where he became one of nation’s most coveted junior college prospects.

"I came in as the No. 1 safety in the country and things are just not going well there," Moncrief told the Montgomery Advertiser Saturday. "But Auburn was a good place, I just want to thank them for everything, for them recruiting me, and I wish them the best of luck."

Auburn reciprocated, but with a few caveats.

“I got released to Big Ten, Big 12, and ACC schools,” Moncrief told The Michigan Insider.  “I didn’t get released to the SEC, and I didn’t get released to Louisville and Clemson because Auburn plays them (Louisville in 2015 and Clemson in 2016).”

“I didn’t get released to Michigan. I don’t know why.”

That news has already given way to rampant speculation that the Michigan restriction is a response to Harbaugh’s blatant disregard for southern sensibilities.  Moncrief, though, isn’t jumping to any conclusions.  All he knows is he doesn’t plan to take the decision lying down.

“We’re going to try to fight it because it’s not fair,” he said.  “I’ve got to do what I’ve to do.  It’s not a fair situation.”

“I’ve got to get with my parents and we’ll see what’s going on with it.”

If Auburn repeals the restriction Michigan would definitely be an option that the 6-2, 221-pounder explores, but that doesn’t guarantee that Ann Arbor will be his future home.  He only wants Michigan as an option.

“I’m open to the Big 10… whichever (school) has the most interest in me,” Moncrief said.

“I’m just taking the process in as a whole.  I’ve been through the recruiting process, so it’s the same thing as last time. I’m open to everyone.”

Moncrief played in all 13 games for Auburn last season, registering 27 tackles, one pass break-up, and a forced fumble.  He will have to sit out next season as a transfer before finishing out his eligibility the following year.


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