It’s been a while since we’ve had headlines about Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh taking shots at the SEC. That’s about to change thanks to a new book coming out “Overtime: Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines at the Crossroads of College Football” by John U. Bacon.

A review by Jeff Arnold for Forbes has gotten the attention of college football fans on social media, especially for its SEC mention:

“Harbaugh, who has made plenty of enemies south of the Mason-Dixon line since taking over at Michigan, has poked the cages of SEC coaches repeatedly and in the book, speaks to the disparity in spending by simply telling Bacon, “(It’s) hard to beat the cheaters.”

Obviously, this being just a portion of a book review, there are going to be a lot of questions about who the “cheaters” are and what kind of “cheating” Harbaugh is alleging. In terms of spending, much has been made of college football teams spending more money in two areas: support staff and recruiting. (At many programs, there is significant overlap in spending in these areas as many support staffers work in the recruiting office.)

In 2017, Ross Dellenger reported for The Advocate on football support staff spending in the SEC:

In fact, Georgia spent more than $4.4 million on its football support staff in the 2015-16 academic year, according to documents obtained from The Advocate. The Bulldogs easily led the league in support staff pay, about $1.5 million more than the second-highest program: Alabama.

LSU was ninth in the league in support staff pay at $1.6 million, and Kentucky was last at $1.06 million.

Dellenger’s Advocate article also referenced support staff size numbers from a report:

In an NCAA survey obtained by, Georgia has the largest support staff in the country at 23 members, followed by Clemson (22), Michigan (22), Texas (22) and Alabama (20). The survey, though, is incomplete and inaccurate.

It’s interesting to see that Michigan is right there with Georgia and Alabama and other big-name programs in terms of support staff size. UM is presumably spending similarly as well.

In July, Stadium reported on how much Power 5 programs spent on recruiting in the 2018 fiscal year. Here are the 15 biggest spenders, including Michigan, per the Stadium report:

  1. Georgia
  2. Alabama
  3. Texas
  4. Clemson
  5. Texas A&M
  6. Florida State
  7. Michigan
  8. Penn State
  9. LSU
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Nebraska
  12. Florida
  13. Kansas
  14. Auburn
  15. Minnesota

While the book appears to suggest that a disparity in spending is linked to “cheating,” Harbaugh’s program appears to be SEC-like in terms of size and spending.