Stuart McNair

Alabama Coach Nick Saban sees danger in satellite recruiting camps

Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s football camps are for teaching, not recruiting

Among the many who are absolutely irrelevant as far as Alabama Coach Nick Saban is concerned are Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh and Fox Sports radio “personality” Colin Cowherd. I suspect Harbaugh is mostly upset because when Saban was asked if he blamed the Michigan coach for the satellite camp issue, the Alabama coach said he did not. But worse than that for Harbaugh, Saban said, “I’m not saying anything about him.”


So Harbaugh fires at Alabama and Saban, and the likes of Cowherd and Alabama-haters have a side based not on comprehension, but on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” theory.


The issue is satellite camps. These are combine-type affairs, not teaching camps. Players are brought in like cattle to an auction – weighed, measured, put through some performance tests.


Don’t try to sell the proposition that this results in college football scholarships for players who otherwise would not get them. The same number of players who were signed by major colleges and small colleges in 2015 and this year will be signed in 2017 and 2018 and so on. The only thing that will result in more players being signed is the NCAA increasing the number of players who can be signed and who can be on scholarship.


(By the way, Alabama was one of the schools that fought hardest against scholarship limits.)


First, take two contentions off the board:


One is that Saban is against satellite camps because he is too lazy to spend the time. You don’t win four more national championships than, say, Jim Harbaugh by being lazy. The NCAA even passed a rule to keep the head football coach from being on the recruiting trail in the spring because opponents believed that Saban’s work ethic in this area gave Alabama too big an advantage.


Two, that Saban wants to keep the likes of Harbaugh out of Alabama because Michigan will get players Alabama wants. Last year Harbaugh got a commitment from a player in Alabama, but when Harbaugh was able to get a better player he withdrew the scholarship offer from the Alabama player. Neither Alabama nor Auburn offered that player.


Lost in the hyperbole are the points that Saban has been making on the issue:


Alabama has football camps and there are some prospects who participate, but by a factor of hundreds, more are regular high school players who are in the Nick Saban Football Camp in order to become better players. It is a teaching camp, not a recruiting evaluation.


All of those in the Alabama camp are verified by The University’s athletics compliance office as paying for the experience. There are no impermissible benefits. Saban wants to know who is verifying this for the so-called satellite camps.


And speaking of paying, where does the money go? He’s not talking about a satellite camp in conjunction with Samford University or the like. But what about when Uncle John, who has a top prospect in his grasp, puts together a satellite camp and has top colleges beating a path to his door, thus attracting paying wannabes? Where does that money end up?

These are the “third parties” that all who are involved in college athletics should be concerned about. It has made college basketball recruiting a cess pool. Saban said, "Why would we be promoting somebody else's camp anywhere? This is the only sport where the high school still mattered. What they did at the high school mattered. All you're doing is allowing all these other people that we spend all of our time at the NCAA saying, ‘You can't recruit through a third party. You can't be involved with third-party people.’ And that's exactly what you're doing, creating all these third parties that are going to get involved with the prospects. And who gets exposed on that? I go to a camp and I'm talking to some guy I don't know from Adam's house cat and he's representing some kid because he put the camp on, and then I'm in trouble for talking to this guy.”

Saban has also pointed out that he is not concerned with what any school thinks is and does what is best for its program.

Saban, who has advocated a commissioner of college football, concluded, “I say what I think is best for college football and say what I think is best for the players and the kids.”


Not even a radio “personality” can fault that.

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