War of the satellites

Kyle Riviere
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Alabama and Michigan will not be meeting on the football field any time soon, but that hasn’t stopped their head coaches from tearing into each other.

Two of the most polarizing figures in college football are at opposite ends of the fence when it comes to the offseason’s hottest topic: satellite camps. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh has been the figure-head of the satellite camp movement. Alabama’s Nick Saban has been the face of its staunchest opposition.

If you don’t know by now, satellite camps are camps attended by members of an outside coaching staff that are stationed more than 50 miles away from their campuses. These coaches are invited as guests and are allowed to meet, instruct and interact with the campers.

So, what’s the big deal, right?

The reason it has become such a hot-button issue is because coaches like Harbaugh were attending the camps by way of an NCAA rules loophole.

The NCAA said that coaches couldn’t host camps more than 50 miles away from their campuses. It didn’t say anything about being invited as “guests.” So, Harbaugh and others were traveling the country, attending camps from city to city like touring rock bands.

Here’s where the real issue lies. Both the SEC and ACC conferences had their own sets of rules, and their rules did not allow their coaches to take part in satellite camps. So, coaches like Saban felt jaded that all other coaches could use satellite camps to their advantage, but they couldn’t.

All of this drama eventually led to the NCAA stepping up and banning all satellite camps back in April, but just three weeks later, they rescinded the ban. Not only that, they allowed everyone to take part.

Saban’s feelings didn’t really change. A war of words between he and Harbaugh ensued last week.

Saban publicly stated that he was against satellite camps in general and that they were “bad for college football.” He said that they could lead to some shady dealings.

Harbaugh responded on Twitter by stating, “‘Amazing’ to me—Alabama broke NCAA rules & now their HC is lecturing us on the possibility of rules being broken at camps. Truly ‘amazing.’”

This is referencing former Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis—who resigned in April after being involved in an illegal contact with a recruit.

Saban didn’t back down from his earlier comments.

He said, “Yes, my concern with these camps is only heightened by the fact that we had a coach that had an illegal bump and had to leave the staff. As much as we try to establish an atmosphere of compliance at our place, I think some situations we put ourselves, like these camps, makes it more difficult to control.”

Saban did throw some good points into the mix.

First off, he suggested that if they’re going to allow these coaches to attend so many of these camps, they should just go ahead and “have a scouting department like the NFL.”

That would certainly cut down on the recruiting shenanigans and also cut down on the stress and workload of the college coaches. They would be allowed to focus on coaching their teams and preparing for games instead of having to spend so much time wooing prospects.

If that doesn’t work, Saban suggested that coaches be allowed to hit the road in May to meet prospects and their head coaches at their respective schools, in a controlled environment. Once again, this is something that could cut down on NCAA violations.

Both are good points, but don’t count on it as long as the NCAA is making the rules. It’s far too logical for their taste.

For now, it just looks like a pipe dream. So, in the meantime, Saban and Harbaugh are just going to have to feud with no common ground anywhere in sight.

Saban and the rest of the SEC and ACC coaches really shouldn’t have stressed over this. Schools like Alabama, LSU, Florida, they don’t need their head coaches feverishly touring the country to lure in highly-touted recruits. All they need is that name in front of their jerseys. Just the name alone will fill up their yearly recruiting classes.

When it comes to LSU, Les Miles doesn’t need to be in Michigan on Monday, Ohio on Tuesday, Pennsylvania on Wednesday and Tennessee on Friday. We just need him here in Louisiana.

We need him here protecting our border and making sure we don’t lose our top recruits to out-of-state schools.