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Offseason Trials: Satellite Camps are Awesome?

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It's a new age in the Big Ten. Well, at least it's an age in which we finally all agree that recruiting sorta matters. When Urban Meyer came to town and created a Murderdeathkill machine based in Columbus, it became very apparent schools would need to play by a new set of rules. No, the Minnesota, Purdue, and Iowas of the world were not going to be pulling five star after five star, but it mattered that they pulled a few more four stars and few less two stars. Add recruiter extraordinaire James Franklin, and you had a recipe for an arms race of sorts. As SB Nation wrote this morning, Franklin gets that recruiting matter.

So what happens with that information? James Franklin - in using an oft-cited rule in the NCAA handbook that said coaches could work at camps - introduced a partnership with smaller schools in recruit-rich Southern areas who could use the bump to get kids on campus themselves. It was pretty successful last year and he intends to keep doing it and in doing so, he essentially gets to evaluate and meet more high-rated players than he might have in a world where the NCAA isn't too keen on letting schools fly kids up whenever they want - you know, because think about the children and such. Now you have Urban MeyerJim Harbaugh, and even Mike Riley jumping on the bandwagon. Riley, apparently, has been doing this for a while now, too because it turns out Beaverton isn't exactly close to anything. This is what we call a trend.

That is, until the NCAA closes what they're calling a "loop hole" in the rule book - which is funny because it's not like this was a big deal when it was happening for much of the last decade, but is now because THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN and like, you know, the SEC doesn't allow its coaches to do this. With coaches in the south - including the likes of Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney speaking out, I thought it would be appropriate to do a totally unbiased (not unbiased, this seems like a pretty easy thing to allow) offseason trial.

In Defense of the Satellite Camps

  • Ultimately, they're one of those few mutually beneficial things to coaches and kids. I get the idea that you don't want to run kids through combines, and I can even see that running coaches all over the country for camps seems silly. The counter to that? They have to do that now with less organization and probably more interference for kids. Allowing coaches to partner with smaller local schools gives those teams the opportunity to draw attention to their program - and probably even get some kids a scholarship at that level that might not have - as well as gives schools away from talent-rich areas the opportunity to make an impression without forcing kids to pay to travel. It's not unfair so much as its just really organized. Organization is good!
  • It's making Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney angry. I'm okay with that.
  • This ultimately is also about giving kids an opportunity to see what options outside of just their neighborhood offers. Nick Saban talks about bringing kids to campus being the only way we should allow things like this. The reality is that a lot of these players can't afford the trip, and even if they can, they can't necessarily afford the time off to travel with parents and everything else that goes along with travel. Satellite camps ultimately bring exposure to other opportunities that exist for a lot of kids, and I think that's pretty great. The reality is that it doesn't change the fact that ultimately, the pull of playing for the school you grew up following will win out more often than not. This is for that next kid who might need a chance to go outside the footprint.

Satellite Camps are Not Awesome

  • I don't know... I think the biggest argument against these things is the slippery slope argument. If we allow coaches to start partnering with small schools, do we just allow them to setup shop in a different area? Can we have a coach dedicated to bringing in kids to combines? Is it really just the next step towards the death of amateurism? I hate the slippery slope argument, especially because this has been going on for a long time, but the thought exercise does need to be worked out to its conclusion.
  • There's also the whole thing about time. Kids are already busy in the summers and feeling like you have to go to every Rivals, UnderArmour, Army, Nike, Umbro, University of Phoenix, etc. camp just to get noticed and keep your star rating seems exhausting already. Is this really a good thing to allow? I don't think that in its current form it's that big a deal, but what do I really know anyways?
  • Uh, the poor coaches? Yeah, I don't really feel bad for them. They're doing okay for themselves it seems.
So there you have it. Someone will be more nuanced than me in the comments, but that's what these pieces are for. Go vote. Satellite camps: Awesome or Stupid?