Jim Harbaugh can have his antics, Mike Riley wants the 'real stuff'

Lou Holtz, left, and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh perform a dab during the Wolverines' "Signing With the Stars" spectacle.


Mike Riley couldn't ignore Jim Harbaugh's theatrics on the recruiting trail.

There were the overnight sleepovers and classroom selfies, trees climbed and offers pulled. There was the signing day extravaganza featuring Tom Brady, Derek Jeter and Ric Flair, among other celebrities.

It was all hard to miss.

"You know you can’t help but follow Jim a little bit and pay attention," Riley said Wednesday at his signing day press conference.

Not only did Harbaugh grab headlines and eyeballs though. He also nabbed a top five signing class in his first full cycle with the Wolverines. 

But Riley isn't ready to concede that Harbaugh's way is the new normal. His philosophy is much different than that of the Michigan man.

"It's the sign of the time," Riley said, "In the end, however, it still comes down to the substance of what you are trying to do."

For Riley, that means the "real stuff," building relationships, providing an education and selling the merits of your program. Not watching Star Wars with a recruit.

"This is an important decision that involves real stuff," Riley said. "And it involves somebody’s child that has to be at the right exact place for them."

Riley will admit that Harbaugh's moves do make it even more important to be forward thinking. Riley believes his staff does a good job of that, with their activity on social media and things like the "Spread the Red" maps.

Just don't expect Riley to show up on a recruit's doorstep with a sleeping bag.

"It does make us think about what we can do better and differently," Riley said. "But at the same time once you get past that, you’ve got to have the real stuff. Otherwise, what do you really have?”

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