Here is the opening to my Saturday column about A. J. Jenkins and his graduation from college and the 49ers:

SANTA CLARA — It is important for a college graduate to attend graduation and to make that dramatic march in cap and gown in honor of four years of hard, rewarding work, and to pose for photos with the family and to introduce the proud family to professors and to possess that special day for a lifetime.

I applaud professional athletes who actually graduate from college — many do not — and I applaud those who place the graduation ceremony before practice.

OK, that should get you started. Jenkins graduated, but he didn’t walk at his graduation. Too bad. This is what Jim Harbaugh had to say and this is what Jenkins said. To read the column, click here.

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  1. Joe Sanchez

    Attending graduation isn’t all that important. But Harbaugh lying about the whole thing is weird and definitely deseriving of a column. I won’t complain if Harbaugh turns out to be a Belichick (with the attendant rings) but all the same I could do without the secrecy and dissembling. It’s harder here than elsewhere – the legacy of Bill Walsh hangs over every Niners coach.

    May 11th, 2012 10:50 pm

  2. Johnny Christo

    “oh no, I don’t hate Harbaugh”
    “oh yeah, Singletary’s a good man”
    “oh sure, Bill Walsh was my friend”

    Come on, Lowell. This article was a piece of garbage, a failed attempt to make something out of nothing. AJ planned to go to ceremonies. Then he found out Niners rookie camp coincided, and he made a big boy decision to commit to his new multimillion dollar employment contract. Big deal. You sound like a know-it-all, and it’s ugly.

    Quit the Harbaugh Hate already. It’s weird. It’s stalker-ish. So strange.

    May 11th, 2012 10:53 pm

  3. CohnZohn

    Johnny Christo, You seem so much more argumentative and confrontational in the nighttime. Your comments are less polite than in the daytime. It’s just something I’ve noticed.

    May 11th, 2012 10:57 pm

  4. AlbertS

    From the university’s web. True to any other colleges, I imagine.

    “Commencement is not a certification of graduation, but rather a ceremony that celebrates your academic achievements.”

    So if a sheepskin was printed w/ AJ’s name on it, he graduated. It doesn’t matter when he picks it up.

    May 11th, 2012 11:49 pm

  5. Alexsmith4mvp

    Coach H did not lie to you, he said that A.J. Had already graduated which was true. He graduated the moment his last test was graded and his final grades posted to the school transcript. He did not tell you that he walked in the commencement ceremony, which is just that a ceremony much like a birthday party, just because you don’t celebrate doesn’t mean you don’t turn a year older… Same with graduation, just because you don’t walk does not mean you didn’t graduate. In fact tons of people do not walk at their graduation ceremonies and I would be willing to bet they would argue the fact that they had in fact graduated college with you. When looking at a job resume an employer is not going to ask if you walked at your commencement ceremony, he is going to look and see where your diploma is from and what subject it is in… And before you ask, yes I graduated from college and walked at my ceremony, it was my personal choice but I think nothing less of my fellow students who decided to celebrate some other way…

    May 12th, 2012 6:34 am

  6. Dennis

    Lowell, you sounded like my wife, “What you should have said was…..” ” I wouldn’t say it that way!” “I wouldn’t say that to you!” Harbuagh said what he said. He might have been confused.

    I think you missed the real story here and that is what did Harbuagh really know and when did he know it. A whole lot of intrigue if you ask me.

    As for missing graduation – I don’t share your opinion as to its importance, especially when you sign a multi million dollar contract right out of college. I always tell my boys that you need to take care business first. Play time and parades come after you commitments are met.

    May 12th, 2012 7:57 am

  7. Frank in Minnesota

    It almost seems as if Harbaugh is afraid to be open and straight forward, as if that were to be some kind of weakness. Maybe he doesn’t trust himself. By the way Lowell, I enjoyed the article it makes for a interesting look at people…and some characters!

    May 12th, 2012 7:58 am

  8. Tiburon Dave

    Coach Harbaugh fibbed because he was embarassed. He knew what was going on with his 1st round draft pick and just didn’t want to own up to it.

    Seems kind of silly actually.

    May 12th, 2012 9:22 am

  9. htwaits

    Lowell vs. Jim.

    So what’s new?

    May 12th, 2012 10:14 am

  10. GeoffC

    I’m at graduation all day today and you are a uneducated about how a university works. Maybe you would like to get involved so you csm learn.

    May 12th, 2012 10:38 am

  11. mendozaline

    Nitpicking time. Is the glare of the noonday sun really golden?
    I don’t think so. From a photography website “When it comes to shooting images in sunlight, everyone prefers to click images in the golden hours, the 10-minute span after sunrise and before sunset.”

    May 12th, 2012 11:09 am

  12. CohnZohn

    Thanks, mendozaline. I struggled with the image golden. The sun was actually harsh but I couldn’t find the right word to describe Harbaugh’s carefree mood. James Joyce used to write a few words a day in “Ulysses.” I’m obliged to write 850 or more a day. Sometimes my images suffer.

    May 12th, 2012 11:12 am

  13. Brady

    It sounds to me like Harbaugh wasn’t really paying attention when he answered the question. Seems like an itty bitty “lie” to deconstruct so heavily.

    Also, as someone who finished college yesterday and is graduating in 8 days, I can say that I’d much, much rather be training for my life dream than putting on a cap and gown.

    May 12th, 2012 11:17 am

  14. CohnZohn

    Brady, Graduating should be your life dream.

    May 12th, 2012 11:20 am

  15. htwaits

    Could this be another way to parse Harbaugh’s statement?

    “Well, the rules are that the, ah, the youngsters who are going to graduate in June can be here for this minicamp,”

    That covers the NFL rules for schools like Stanford, and players like Luck who can attend the first conditioning session but must stay away until the academic year is completed at their respective schools.

    “My understanding with A.J. is, ah, I think A.J.’s coming back too, Monday.”

    A.J. has completed his academic year so he will be a full time participant under NFL rules.

    “I believe he’s already graduated, Lowell.”

    A.J. has graduated. Is eligible to practice and work out full time.

    “You might want to check your facts.”

    The facts that Harbaugh is asking you to check is if A.J. is in violation of any NFL rules by being here full time.

    My conclusion is that you asked one question and Harbaugh answered a different question.

    “I asked him why Jenkins was in Santa Clara instead of the University Illinois for graduation.”

    Did he do it on purpose? Maybe.

    Did he lie or fib? Not really. Our president, his opponents, the heads of large organizations, and almost everyone else do this kind of diversion all the time, but you already know that.

    I’ve got a question for you. Harbaugh, in response to almost any question, uses “ah” like most of us to gain time for thinking about how to finish an answer. Do you think it diminishes Harbaugh’s credibility for you to include his “ah”s in his quotes?

    May 12th, 2012 11:24 am

  16. Brady

    Lowell, with all due respect, who are you to tell me what my life dream should be?

    Graduating college is not my life dream. Graduating college is my 22 year old dream and goal. And I have proudly achieved that. I am very happy that I will be here for the graduation ceremony, but it is not important as the 4 years of all-nighters, papers, thesis, and success that have earned me that diploma. The ceremony is merely the icing on the cake.

    Nearly every college preaches to its students that it is preparing them for the opportunity to chase their life goals and dreams.

    Think of your marriage: sure, the wedding day was spectacular and memorable, yes? but was that truly the dream, getting married? Or was the dozens of years of happiness with the woman you love the dream?

    We all have to follow our heart. We don’t know what AJ Jenkins’ heart is telling him to do, but it’s ignorant to assume that he wouldn’t actually rather be in Santa Clara.

    And please don’t tell me what my personal life dream should be. That’s no less petty than Anthony Davis calling Grant a fiction writer.

    May 12th, 2012 12:20 pm

  17. Frippertopia

    This issue is filler for football-starved fans when nothing else is going on. I can absolutely believe that AJ was pressured by the hyper-competitive Harbaugh to skip graduation. It might not have taken that much pressure as many college grads (myself included) have had ambivalent feelings about participating in commencement.
    What would be most disturbing is if AJ realy wanted to attend and it was something very important to his family. College graduation is a once-in-a-lifetime event! Missing a few days of a voluntary camp is not going to set the kid back come opening day.

    As none of us know what really transpired between Harbaugh & AJ, it’s essentially a non-event as no-one will care once the season gets underway (if that long).

    May 12th, 2012 12:34 pm

  18. CohnZohn

    Frippertopia,. I agree with you. It’s a non-event. I appreciate your thoughtful comment. Let me add this. The event does not pertain to whether or not Jenkins marched at commencement. It is that Harbaugh obscured the issue. Why? It would have been so easy for him to answer directly. His answer — or non answer — was the news event and it is consistent with his entire pattern of answering media questions.

    May 12th, 2012 12:37 pm

  19. Johnny Christo

    Perhaps a full day of stress contributes. I apologize for the departure from good manners.

    May 12th, 2012 7:12 pm

  20. CohnZohn

    It’s OK in the long run, Johnny Christo, although sometimes I feel miffed in the short run. You are a good guy.

    May 12th, 2012 7:21 pm

  21. Johnny Christo

    Miffed is a good word for a dad. Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours!

    May 13th, 2012 8:58 am

  22. Mike

    I agree with htwaits’ interpretation. Harbaugh didn’t lie at all, and you seem to be desperate to find a topic for a column. If you’ve been paying attention, you’d know that Harbaugh said well before camp that he was fine with Jenkins attending his graduation ceremony. Jenkins changed his mind on his own. But that wouldn’t be an interesting column, would it?

    May 13th, 2012 5:33 pm

  23. Mark M

    What a fun piece and nicely constructed. The issue isn’t a huge one. The fact that he graduated easily dwarfs all of these other questions. Good for him.

    But the re-direct stuff from Harbaugh and the silly PR attempt to push you off is funny as hell. Very enjoyable read when I didn’t expect much going in. I’m really starting to feel for the media in all your dealings with this team. I really do hope they improve and start learning from AJ on how to deal with PR issues.

    May 14th, 2012 12:30 pm

  24. KauaiRobert

    I’m with Frank in Minnesota on this one.
    I think Harbaugh puts up a huge wall around himself and anyone he works with.
    If anyone plays his cards close to his chest, it’s Harbaugh.
    But that just makes me like him more.
    That and winning.

    May 14th, 2012 1:43 pm

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