By Mike Craven / @cravenmike
We’ve all been though a dry spell. The SEC has gone two whole seasons without winning a national championship, and the coaches, fans and administrations are frustrated. Instead of turning that frustration inward, however, the conference that has been on top of the mountain for nearly a decade has decided to whine about satellite camps.
For those of you who don't know what satellite camps are, here's a refresher on the matter courtesy of Mitch Sherman from ESPN.com:
Satellite camps simply allow college coaches to travel long distances to work as guests at camps hosted by other institutions. For instance, Penn State coaches last year were invited to attend camps at Stetson and Georgia State as instructors. Michigan is making stops this year at high schools and small colleges in the South, California and Detroit. Nebraska plans to take its staff to a camp at Georgia State in June.[...]
NCAA rules prohibit colleges from hosting camps outside of a 50-mile radius of their campuses. Nothing, though, stops them from serving as guests at camps staged by other institutions. It’s a loophole, for sure, and likely not the intention of legislators to allow the full staff of a Power 5 program essentially to take over the camp of a smaller school.
Satellite camps are nothing new in the world of college football recruiting, but the issue started to turn heads last year when Penn State head coach James Franklin started showing up at camps in SEC country. The bubbling point of the issue occurred when new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh announced plans to tour the country hosting satellite camps for high school prospects, even spitting in the face of the SEC by inviting fellow coaches to attend and talk at the camps.
Like most things in the offseason, this is really a self-created issue. The SEC and ACC outlaw coaches from attending camps that take place more than 50 miles from campus. The other three power five conferences have no such restrictions. Mike Slive, the commissioner of the SEC, announced to the media this week that if the SEC rules are not adopted by everyone, the SEC will lift the self-imposed ban in 2016, allowing the SEC to play on the same playing field as its foes.
This is the equivalent of someone announcing that if everyone is drinking beer, then that person will decide to drink beer too. No one really cares except for the people in the drought. It is no one else’s problem, and conferences like the Big 12, Big 10 and Pac-12 are doing anything but rolling their eyes at a conference that has always wanted its own rules. The SEC feels like as the big dog on the yard, it should be allowed to dictate how football is approached, but this isn’t Pelican Bay. No other conference is prisoner to the wants and needs of the big, bad SEC.
Before the issue of satellite camps, we heard Nick Saban cry about fast-paced offenses hurting football and possibly causing injuries. Alabama turned around and hired Lane Kiffin to lead a fast-paced attack in 2014. Don’t let the rhetoric fool you: This isn’t about what others can do as much as it is about what the SEC can’t do. Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson ended up at Florida State, and one of the main reasons was the self-imposed transfer rules in the SEC. Fake tears flowed over that as well.
College football has become a year-around event, and no doubt the need to fill a 24-hour news cycle has been a reason this issue has become a major topic of conversation. The NCAA will discuss it next month when the NCAA’s football oversight committee meets. The result is a foregone conclusion. The other conferences won’t side with the SEC, the SEC will whine some more and then exploit what everyone else is doing. And there is nothing wrong with that at all.
Equality has never been a reality in college football. The power five conferences pushed for separation from the have-nots in football because the playing field was never equal. Now, the SEC has climbed on its high horse on a platform of equality. The irony of the NCAA and major college football is priceless. So while the SEC whines, the rest of us should just laugh.
A former newspaper man, Mike Craven is the publisher of BirdsUp.com of the Rivals.com network. His work can also be found in Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine and in the Texas FNF Magazine.