Jim Harbaugh, Michigan football's secrecy sparks media's FOIA request

ANN ARBOR, MICH. - Right or wrong, Jim Harbaugh has tried his best to run the Michigan football program under a cloak of secrecy since taking the job at the end of 2014.

Last season, U-M was one of the few teams not to release a depth chart all year (recall Colorado's mocking of U-M with a fake depth chart starting Elmer Fudd at quarterback and Eric Cartman at left tackle), presumably to gain the slightest competitive advantage it could -- too bad that didn't seem to help U-M when it lost three of its final four games by a total of five points.

Harbaugh didn't even announce his starting quarterback until Wilton Speight took the field on the first series of the 2016 opener vs. Hawaii.

Now, with the 2017 opener against Florida on Sept. 2 two weeks away, the Wolverines are the lone Big Ten team withholding their 2017 roster. The roster listed on the school's website is from 2016.

NJ Advance Media believes U-M has gone too far and submitted a Freedom of Information Act request Aug. 3 for the program's updated roster.

U-M responded Aug. 11 with a legal request seeking an additional 10 business days to respond, which could put the roster release date at Aug. 25, or eight days before the 2017 opener.

U-M's full reply:

Due to the large number of requests currently being processed by this office, it will not be possible to respond to your request within the five-day period accorded by the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. However, under Section 5 (2) (d) of the Act, the University is permitted to extend the deadline for not more than 10 business days beyond the initial due date. The University will respond to your request on or before August 25, 2017.

Last season, U-M waited until one week before the opener to release its 2016 roster. 

In contrast, U-M's other sports have revealed its rosters far in advance of the upcoming season. The men's basketball team updated its roster for 2017-18 in July.

So, is Harbaugh and his program out of line?

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© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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