We all saw the comments earlier this week from Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, who pontificated that he saw "no value" in satellite camps. That paragon of rule abiding, the Southeastern Conference, along with the neighboring Atlantic Coast Conference, have had a policy restricting their schools and the coaches to a 60-mile radius for summer camps.
Now the NCAA has seen the SEC and ACC and raised them to no off-campus camp options. Effective immediately, the NCAA has eliminated any satellite or off-campus camp opportunities and all camps by member school's coaches must be conducted at on-campus facilities or facilities that the school regularly uses for competition.
Okay, so now no showboating Jim Harbaugh can come down from Michigan and make a spectacle of himself in Florida or Georgia or Texas or Louisiana. Now Saban and the rest of the coaches in the SEC and ACC can rest easy and know that coaches and schools willing to organize and put the work in can't be off campus in more populated areas evaluating and teaching high school football players, perhaps getting a jump on recruiting those athletes.
Oklahoma State, head coach Mike Gundy, and his football staff have been making the rounds in Texas for almost 10 years. Initially, the Cowboys went out on their own and advertised and had Oklahoma State satellite football camps in usually Central Texas, San Antonio, Houston, East Texas, and the DFW-Metroplex.
When the NCAA closed the loophole on camps out of state by schools before 2009, then the Cowboys climbed on board with friend and Mary-Hardin Baylor head coach Pete Fredenburg and his coaching staff as guest coaches making the rounds at the same locations as part of Mary-Hardin Baylor's camps.
I went back and looked at my records as I have followed along and used the camps as an opportunity to evaluate and get information on prospects. There were usually about 5 to 10 players out of the between 60 to 150 high school prospects that Oklahoma State would be interested in at each stop on the tour.
Current players on the Oklahoma State roster attending these camps were starting cornerback Ramon Richards out of Brackenridge in the San Antonio area, starting center Brad Lundblade out of Liberty Christian in Argyle, back-up tackle Matt Mucha out of Clear Lake near Houston, second-team corner Bryce Balous out of McKinney North, and incoming freshman offensive lineman Dylan Galloway out of Coppell. Also, current Texas Tech starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes was at a camp a few years ago.
No denying, Oklahoma State made good use and got good results out of the camps. It was so good that many schools have jumped in. Last year, New Mexico State and one other Division I school had coaches on the camp tour. This upcoming year there were as many as eight schools that planned to be included in the MHB Crusaders camp tour.
Okay, Mark Emmert and the NCAA Division I Council, let's look at this. We are going to go along with Saban, the SEC, and the ACC to ban these camp arrangements. In a time when cost cutting is pretty important this was a cheaper way for schools to take a bus, get together, and spend five days on the road and see a bunch of youngster in highly populated areas where there is good high school football. That's a bad thing, huh? Not really. It will hurt some schools especially those in less populated areas. Washington State's Mike Leach is pretty surly about it.
"It appears that the selfish interests of a few schools and conferences prevailed over the best interests of future potential student-athletes," WSU coach Mike Leach said in a text message to the Seattle Times. "The mission of universities and athletic programs should be to provide future student-athletes with exposure to opportunities, not to limit them. It appears to me that some universities and conferences are willing to sacrifice the interests of potential student-athletes for no better reasons than to selfishly monopolize their recruiting bases.
"I will be fascinated to hear any legitimate reasoning behind this ruling. We need to rethink this if we are actually what we say we are."
Leach got this 100 percent correct. Having been on these tours I've seen a lot of young, eager players that want the opportunity to play college football, get an education playing the sport they love, have the chance to get in front of a lot of coaches. Many of these youngsters couldn't afford to travel to camps because they don't have a car, don't have a parent that can drive them or the parents are to busy working. Now, they get seen.
Then there are the youngsters that dream of playing at a school like Oklahoma State and at the camp it is obvious that they aren't talented enough, but there are other schools – FBS, Division II, Division III, even junior colleges – that go on these tours and see these kids and by the magic of the satellite camp an opportunity to go to college is discovered.
Yes, the camps help the schools. They wouldn't do them if they didn't. More importantly, the camps help the prospective student-athletes.
So to Nick Saban and the NCAA, that is the value of satellite camps. If you are lazy and want a few extra days of summer vacation, then fine. However, don't let that limit hundreds, maybe thousands of young athletes from pursuing their dream.