It’s all about recruiting the best. Once again, football recruitment is evolving to find all the best athletes in the country – this time through satellite camps. Satellite camps are an NCAA loophole that seems too good to be true. While coaches cannot run camps of their own, they can guest-coach and work at other high school satellite camps. Elite athletes will seek out bigger-name coaches by touring the country but come away with exposure to many local programs.
Better exposure and in-person contact can equate to better commitments. That’s what happened to James Franklin, the Penn State football coach, who used camps to revolutionize the recruiting process while at Vanderbilt. The competition saw Vanderbilt flourish under Franklin’s strategic recruiting. Each year, his athlete commitment classes rose in rank and Vanderbilt improved its record.
It was Penn State’s turn to do the same under Franklin, except SEC coaches are not happy with the mix of Penn State and satellite camps. Two years ago, James Franklin and his Penn State coaching staff drew numerous debates on their satellite camps. Franklin had been flashing the Penn State brand around the country, planning to mimic his success at Vanderbilt, and SEC and ACC coaches were complaining about the loophole. While the rest of the division was touring around guest-coaching at other schools, the SEC and ACC suffered from rules that prohibit coaches from going outside a 50-mile radius from campus, even if invited to guest-coach. SEC and ACC schools could extend invitations to other coaches to come to guest-coach, but they can not accept any reciprocation. Now, satellite camps posed as a key to leveraging programs against other powerhouse programs.
Their biggest concerns took flight when Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan coaching staff became the new face of satellite camps. Harbaugh launched a seven-state, nine-camp tour during June 2015. In 2016, Michigan completed a month of touring with 40 satellite camps. Evidently, having satellite camps wasn’t playing fair, and Michigan was heading the effort.
In April 2017, the NCAA adopted new football recruiting rules. Among some of the changes is new legislation on the duration of satellite camp participation. The rule states that FBS coaches and staff are allowed to attend camps and clinics for ten days in the months of June and July. The location of the camp must be held in a facility that is used for practice or competition.
Other schools and conferences are matching Harbaugh’s aggressive attitude. People are noting that satellite camps are stealing local talent away from schools. Alabama once had a fenced-in backyard- now competition finds holes and thinks they’re welcome to the peach trees.
However, satellite camps introduced a beneficial aspect to high school athletes as they give them the opportunity to be seen by more coaches in fewer locations. These camps save time and resources that high school athletes would spend trying to get recruited at individual summer camps for each school. It’s a win-win for both coaches and athletes. Both have more face-time and in-person exposure that can lead to better results in the process. However, some schools lose out in the process. Smaller schools with less funding and resources have to limit their camp tour around the country. The recent NCAA rule has mended this inequality between tour lengths, but it will not be long before schools try to gain an upper-hand.
In fact, for this upcoming summer, coaches have been strategically scheduling guest visits and extending invites for their camps. Recently, Michigan has had some trouble with invitations to guest-coach. Harbaugh has reported being disinvited to a scheduled satellite camp and denied an opportunity to visit North Texas. This comes with the assumption that schools are intentionally leaving Michigan out and favoring other big schools to be guest-coaches so that they can keep certain schools off their turf. Where Michigan was denied or uninvited, LSU and Oklahoma took its place.
So, what’s the next evolution for satellite camps and the recruiting process? Can someone say hear ‘mega satellite camps’ for me? That’s right – the more prospects, the merrier. The buzz around satellite camps has just gotten louder. Forget about the ten-day limitation. It’s go big or go home.
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Image courtesy of: MLive.com
Posted on August 7, 2017 in NCAA Policy & Rules
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