Pope Francis does not wear khakis, but he is now the proud owner of some custom Jordans and a Michigan football helmet.
Jim Harbaugh made a huge splash this spring when he took his Michigan football team to Rome, thanks largely to the generosity of an anonymous donor.
Since anything that works for one coach invariably will be copied by another coach, the natural response to Michigan’s trip should be: “Who’s next?”
And since the SEC abhors being second to anyone when it comes to football, I’m sure donors are getting itchy check-writing fingers.
But such ventures should be planned carefully. The trip needs to fit the coach and program.
Here are my recommendations:
Maybe if Alabama had just won another national championship, coach Nick Saban would take the team to some exotic locale. But after losing to Clemson, my guess is he would want a tougher trip.
Any list of “things to do in Siberia” begins with “try to survive.”
Auburn: Lut Desert, Iran
Auburn hates being upstaged by Alabama. So if Alabama goes somewhere as challenging as Siberia, the Tigers need to seek out an even tougher environment.
I googled “toughest places to live on earth,” and Lut Desert, Iran, led the list.
Arkansas: Las Vegas
Coach Bret Bielema met his wife in a Las Vegas casino. And he’s obviously a risk taker. Otherwise, why would he have left Wisconsin for Arkansas?
Florida: Lubbock, Texas
Coach Jim McElwain demonstrated his affinity for transfers by playing two of them at quarterback last season. And there’s no hotter spot for transfers than Texas Tech, where players are leaving so fast you would think the campus is on fire.
Florida probably could pick up a quarterback and a couple of receivers.
Saban is Georgia coach Kirby Smart’s former boss and longtime mentor. So if Saban’s team is going to Siberia, so is Smart’s.
Kentucky: Norman, Oklahoma
Coach Mark Stoops can visit with his brother, Bob, while proving to his team that someone in the family has a winning record.
LSU: Anywhere in France
It’s questionable Cajun coach Ed Orgeron and your average French citizen would speak the same dialect. However, a man ripping off his shirt and bellowing in a deep voice translates in any language.
Missouri: Somewhere in the Big 12
Call it a sentimental journey for a program whose best football days were in the Big 12 and the Big Eight.
Mississippi State: Pingdingshan, Henan, China
A team that responds to cowbells should feel at home listening to the “Bell of Good Luck,” which weighs 116 metric tons. Try carrying that into Davis Wade Stadium.
Ole Miss: Alcatraz
The Rebels might as well get used to prison since they are headed to…