The season of "voluntary" summer workouts for college football teams is upon us. As the sport gets ever more competitive, just staying on campus to lift weights apparently isn't getting it done anymore.
Michigan, fresh off a Sugar Bowl win in Brady Hoke's first season as the Wolverines' coach, sent 22 seniors-to-be to San Diego to train with and learn from U.S. Navy SEALs.
I'm sure it wasn't anything resembling the BUD/S training the SEALS go through. That makes college football seem like a game of beanbag.
But I'm sure what the Wolverines endured was a good bit more intense than, say, throwing bales of hay at Solon's Beef Days. Not that throwing those bales isn't pretty impressive in its own right.
Still, it raises the bar for Iowa and other teams that compete against Michigan, wouldn't you say?
Hoke became enamored with the SEALs when he was coaching at San Diego State.
These excerpts are from Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon's post on the team's trip at MGoBlue.com:
It was the Michigan Football 2012 Leadership trip to San Diego led by Associate Athletic Director Greg Harden and U-M Weight and Conditioning coach Aaron Wellman. It might seem to be a long way to go for a leadership session, but it was an opportunity to learn from and interact with the Navy Seals; it was an educational aspect of these student-athletes' career they will long remember.
The over-arching goal of the trip was to further develop senior leadership. ...
Training sessions, guest speakers, and leading a youth football camp for underprivileged kids were just a small part of what these student-athletes did for three days.
The program took these seniors and created an experience to test and get the best out of their leadership skills. And what better way to do it than listen and work with the incredible Navy Seals.
AnnArbor.com has a story on the seniors' trip.
What isn't detailed is who paid for these players to have this experience, and how much.
Michigan, by the way, has one of the relatively few athletic programs in the nation that is in the black. Michigan's projected athletic surplus for fiscal year 2012 is $11,380,000.
I don't know how this doesn't fall under the NCAA's definition of "improper benefits," which is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institutionís athletic interests (including fans) to provide a student-athlete or the student-athleteís relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by the NCAA legislation.
I'm not suggesting any rules were as much as bent. I'd bet my life savings that every 'i' was dotted and every 't' was crossed. It's probably viewed no different by the NCAA than a basketball team taking an overseas trip in the summer or a swimming team going to Mexico for preseason training.
But I'm guessing a player who said "No, thanks, I think I'll spend the holiday weekend with friends at Lake Michigan instead," wouldn't have been looked on too kindly by U-M coaches or teammates.