NCAA bans satellite camps because SEC fears Harbaugh

With the NCAA ruling to ban satellite camps effective immediately on Friday, the SEC’s fear of Jim Harbaugh was exposed.

Photo obtained via creativecommons.org. No changes made.

On Friday, the NCAA banned the use of satellite camps effective immediately because the SEC is a little scared.

For those unfamiliar with satellite camps, they are essentially used by coaches to travel longer distances as “guests” to camps held by high schools or smaller colleges. The NCAA restricts coaches from holding camps outside a 50-mile radius of their respective campus, but thanks to this prior loophole, coaches and their staffs attend other camps as “guests” to broaden their influence. They can also reach out to lesser-known prospects who wouldn’t otherwise have access to high-end coaches.

In theory, this is a great idea and a fair recruiting tactic. Penn State head coach James Franklin introduced the term in 2014, but the controversy surrounding these camps came to prominence thanks to Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The SEC and ACC have self-imposed bans on satellite camps, so their stance is clear, but when Franklin was touring the country, both conferences were relatively okay with it and didn’t fuss too much.

But over the past year, the SEC and ACC (primarily the SEC) adamantly supported a ban on satellite camps. They didn’t do this because they were sick and tired of Franklin, but because they are petrified of Harbaugh and what he is capable of as a coach.

If this were a mid-major coach setting up camps in Wyoming or Delaware, they wouldn’t be a blimp on the SEC’s radar. But this is Jim Harbaugh, one of the most recognizable figures in football — a coach who transformed Stanford into a Pac-12 power and the San Francisco 49ers into Super Bowl contenders — and is now thrusting Michigan back into the national spotlight. He’s storming the SEC’s backyard like the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

The SEC is in full retreat. The conference is searching for any way to prevent Harbaugh from digging into its monopoly on talent even further than he already has.

Harbaugh’s approach to recruiting may be unorthodox, but its effectiveness cannot be denied. In an era where social media creates a disconnect between human and machine, Harbaugh is connecting with recruits through unconventional methods, such as climbing trees and having sleepovers. Yes, he’s a little awkward, rough around the edges, along with intimidating and intense — but the results don’t lie. The Wolverines had the No. 5 recruiting class according to 247sports, winning the Rashan Gary sweepstakes.

In any other era, Harbaugh’s Twitter jabs at Tennessee head coach Butch Jones would scare recruits away. But this generation of athlete is made of a different cloth. Boldness and authenticity matter more than decorum and political correctness. His willingness to challenge the power conference is attractive to recruits who have spent their entire lives with chips on their shoulders.

The SEC’s convenient aggression toward the ban on satellite camps confirms that Harbaugh inhabits their head, consuming their thoughts and haunting their dreams of continuous glory.

That’s why they never feared Franklin utilizing these camps. Penn State never has — and never will — be a legitimate threat to the SEC with Franklin as its coach. They’re familiar with his days at Vanderbilt. Those were wildly successful given the context of that program’s history, but with an up-close and personal view, it’s safe to say the SEC is fine with Franklin’s futile attempt at college football supremacy.

On the other hand, Harbaugh is more than capable of toppling the SEC. Michigan defeated Florida 41-7 in last year’s Citrus Bowl. Although it was against one of the worst offenses in the country, it was a dominant performance nevertheless.

No matter what, the SEC will never admit to its obsessive fear over Harbaugh’s inevitable success. Instead, they hide behind the “we don’t see the value in it” card. Bologna. Absolute bologna.

If the SEC didn’t see any inherent value with satellite camps, then they would be fine with coaching staffs from other conferences wasting time. But when Harbaugh visits Prattville, Alabama — the home of one of the best high school football programs that lies more than 50 miles away from both Alabama and Auburn – the SEC realizes the potential damage.

Remember how some kids could get everything they wanted because they cried about it? That’s what the SEC accomplished with Friday’s ruling. Because they pocket the most money for the NCAA, their complaints will be heard with both ears. Ultimately, the decision will benefit them and screw the little guy.

The little guy in this case isn’t Harbaugh or Michigan. The little guy is the group of prospects who will no longer be gaining access to coaching staffs at elite programs. Four and five-star recruits have every opportunity to gain access to Alabama or LSU or Michigan or Ohio State, but what about the two-star recruit who perhaps would impress a coach like Harbaugh or Urban Meyer? Yeah, the N-SEC-AA doesn’t care about them.

Perception is everything, and the perception of the SEC will be negatively altered by this move. They won’t nosedive off a cliff in terms of recruiting and success, but Harbaugh’s tactics have opened the floodgates for a geographical shift in desired destinations for recruits.

It’ll be interesting to see if a brutal, but entertaining rivalry between the Big Ten and SEC blossoms out of this situation. Satellite camps or not, Harbaugh is here to stay.

SEC beware.

Featured image courtesy of Brad Muckenthaler

Edited by Nathan Odom

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Follow me @DavidJBradford1 on Twitter, email me at dbradfo2@vols.utk.edu for any questions.

34 thoughts on “NCAA bans satellite camps because SEC fears Harbaugh

  1. Hey guys, Butch Jones here to clarify a little bit about the situation. It’s not that we’re scared of Harbaugh. After all, the SEC is the greatest conference of all time. No, the reason we wanted to put an end to this is because we feel it goes against tradition. Tradition is the lifeblood of the SEC. Tradition is what makes the SEC the greatest conference of all time. I mean lets be real guys. Even some of the weakest SEC teams like Vanderbilt could beat any out of conference team. The ranking system is a complete sham if you ask me. It isn’t fair for all of the SEC teams that have to play other SEC teams. Even the greatness of the SEC can’t allow more than 1 team to win. If it was possible I’m sure you’d see every SEC game end this way. But because this isn’t the reality yet, SEC teams are ranked far below their true rank, just because “they don’t have wins.” Wins are a bogus stat and the committee knows it. The only stat that mattes is SEC membership.

  2. I can like Harbaugh and still disagree with him on this. I’m not blinded by any loyalties when it comes to my opinion. I’ve been a big Michigan fan for over 35 years now and was once a former season ticket holder as well and have followed their overall program/team more than 90% of the so called Michigan fans screaming “you’re not a fan”……….. A big reason the NCAA stopped these camps are because they realized Harbaugh had found a loophole in the rule and they fixed it before it got out of hand with other teams doing them as well. These camps aren’t these places where they find a bunch of “Rudy” stories. The camps from Michigan perspective were put on for one reason and that was for their coaching staff to try and form a better ‘phony relationship’ with a handful of the star guys. Big waste of time and money IMO……….It’s sort of sad to hear how many Michigan fans have changed their views when comes to recruiting overall. It was always a big no-no to pull verbals before and looks like that will start to become the norm for now going forward. Fans try and justify it by saying “well the kid wasn’t working hard” which is baloney, they found a better player and now want to take back their agreement. It’s sort of sad that some kid now has to read a bunch of people saying how this happened because the kid wasn’t a hard worker. As if losing your scholarship wasn’t embarrassing enough. Either your program either believes in honoring verbals or they don’t. There’s no way this would ever have happened in the past (and please no one needs to tell me about some story how Bo pulled a recruits offer back in the 80’s as I’ve already heard it)……. Anyways I cant wait for season to start. That’s where I feel Harbaugh is at his best as he out-coaches and prepares his guys better than others no doubt. The offseason has some things I don’t agree like scheduling spring practices during spring break and doing so down in Florida, making his kids lose out on their spring break so once again just so he can recruit. Again, I don’t need to hear arguments how they didn’t have to practice during finals week now or how other sports do it or it will be best spring break ever for lot of these guys, etc….. all of which is horse crap as a real spring break is not a school sponsored event with adults going putt-putt or whatever, sorry but it’s about having fun, relaxing and even partying on your own time. You know all the same things that all of us want and have a few weeks a year to do ourselves. Quit trying to convince yourself these guys would rather be with their coaches being told what to do then having some time off like everyone else……..Lastly I don’t have time to get into the worst abuse of all going on with all these new HS coaches being hired for some phony job title so again they can get in good with a recruit (please no Chris Partridge is great stories, face it the guy was only hired cause he knew Gary and others as well in NJ area). Feels very un-Michigan like to do especially when this is the same school who wouldn’t even pay Rich Rod’s defensive coordinator a lousy 25k more before. Amazing now to think how many advantages and resources being put forth with recruiting nowadays. Not the way I was hoping Harbaugh would go with this but looks like this is their game plan when it comes to recruiting and the fan base not only accepts it but are actually defending it just seems very hypocritical to me.

  3. Lol. This article was pretty funny. The notion that the SEC was afraid of harbaugh and Michigan is Ludacris. Like any other year in recruiting, a select few of the blue chip recruits will leave the south to play football elsewhere. Those traveling camps would have had little to no impact on raising that number to anything significant enough to strike fear in the hearts of SEC coaches. At the end of the day the dominating perception is that the best football that will prep young players for the NFL is in the south, so the majority of the blue chippers will stay somewhere in the south to play regardless of Harbaugh’s efforts. From a financial standpoint the NCAA’s ban probably just saved Michigan some money. Cause unless the camps could Guarantee more than a handful of blue chip recruits. It was going to be a waste of time, energy, and money for Michigan.

  4. This article was horribly written. What are they teaching kids in journo school these days? It sure isn’t composition.

    This piece of crap reads like a third grader wrote it. And it’s glaringly obvious that most of the comments were written by the author.

    Fail.

  5. The kids in the south and other places will see the $EC dinosaur locking it down and be more curious about the “Harbaugh Rule” and what’s going on at UM and other places

  6. I get what you’re saying, but if I recall correctly Michigan took like 2 star recruits out of the satellite camps. A 4-5 star is going to get the national recognition and be invited to the opening camps and other high profile. This is more about under the radar kids.

  7. So does this apply to every sport or just football? If it’s just football, I think the answer on who this really helps is rather obvious.

  8. Jake the Snake, see what I did there. You said you are a Michigan/Harbaugh fan and I said I wasn’t. Easy enough to say we are who we are not. We can both play that game.

  9. The sad part is the exposure the 2-3 star recruits could get from not just the big schools but the MAC etc. Giving these kids a chance at a scholarship they would not have had. Sound Mind Sound Body does this as well as tutorials about how to conduct oneself OFF the field as well. By the biggest names on college football. Very impactful stuff. Not anymore! What a shame. And the reality is you have 25 kids +/- per year and you are going to get kids form all over the country. So I think there is enough to go around if it was truly just about recruiting.

  10. Jake the Snake,who are you kidding? You’re no Michigan fan and neither am I. You seem to be another troll and not a very good one at that. One schollie was pulled from a recruit that had been offered by a previous coaching staff. When he refused to camp at Michigan and follow through on coaching staff requests then his schollie was pulled. I will concede that a couple other recruits were told there may not be room and they chose to go elsewhere. It does make me feel better knowing you’re out there being an unbiased advocate for these poor children being taken advantage of by 40 year old men.

  11. Well said! This article truly gets to the crux of an argument that many have seen coming for a long time. It makes great points that need to be understood. The NCAA as an organization is self-serving and only moves to the beat of the drummer that drums the loudest. The stand that satellite camps are not in the interest of the student athlete is absurd, for it is a move that is only dictated by the fear of conferences that have nothing to fear. The SEC, ACC, and PAC 10 only have to have their recruits to step out their front doors or step off an airplane to impress and have never had, nor never will have a problem doing so. Their programs are strong and that should be merit enough. To prevent kids from having contact with coaches from other places hurts the kids and only the kids. The absolute hypocrisy of this move by the NCAA only reinforces the feeling that they are not an institution that has the best interests of students in mind, but only the interests of those institutions that have the loudest voice in their ear. I am not going to make this statement based on hidden pretext; I am a Michigan fan from the state of Michigan. I am however an educator who feels that all kids, within the dictates of law, have the right to have equitable opportunity. What has been done is to limit the opportunity for those athletes, a large number who have minimal means, in their pursuit to receive notice and attention from coaching that they may not otherwise receive. This move has even impacted the SMSB Camp within the state of Michigan, preventing coaches from regional midwest schools from attending. I will end by saying that this move only plays to the strength of the very person that it is striking out at…..it demonstrates the fear that other schools have of one individual with an unparalleled focus and what he can do in his drive to be the best.

  12. @Jake the Snake – Just because you say you’re a Harbaugh/Michigan fan, you sure don’t sound like one. You are missing the whole point of these camps. Regardless of whether a kid gets a scholarship offer or not, these kids are getting greater access to football programs that are outside of their region. These camps are to the benefit of the kids. It shouldn’t matter that these schools are from outside of the region.

  13. Never thought I would say this but it’s actually annoying hearing Michigan fans defending Harbaugh on everything and this comes from someone who is a big Michigan/Harbaugh fan myself.

    Someone needs to write an article talking about all the kids at these camps who get offers and then have them pulled later when the coaches see something different on film when these kid have pads on and are playing in a real game.

    Bottom line anything that slows down the slimy game of recruiting is a good thing for college sports and that’s why NCAA put this rule in place especially when it’s something like this where these adult coaches are talking to kids with no parental supervision around. Can you imagine 40 more programs hosting camps each year if this was allowed? Most of these kids probably misunderstand conversations with these coaches and then end up getting the wrong impression thinking their getting interest, can play at this level or even some think they may being getting offered, etc….

    Let’s face it 99 percent of these kids at these satellite camps aren’t close to D-1 CFB level players so the entire reason to even have these camps is for these adult coaches to form stronger “phony” relationships with these top teenagers. Sorry but every bit of that just feels wrong.

    If Harbaugh wants to spread the word about the great game of football like he claims then maybe he should go down to the youth programs at age 10 or so and help promote the game down there at those levels. That way all those kids could benefit from his teachings for the next 5-10 years not some soon to be HS senior that has just a few months left playing football.

  14. Jim Harbaugh and Michigan will not respond until the Appropriate time. The last thing they want is something negative about this situation from any type of response!! I would believe the B10 programs are pretty disappointed in the response from B10 commish Jim Delaney who basically didn’t support anything!!! This in my opinion is the beginning of a long hard look at the NCAA as a fair and productive organization! Obviously fairness and really doing what is right for the student athlete is missing in this!!!!!! Lost about the last 10% of respect for the Ncaa that I had!!! very poor decision!!!!!

  15. So you are saying Harbaugh is really down there recruiting Fan?!? SMH.. Whet the hell,does the enthusiasm of the fan base have to do with the NCAA/SEC Banning Harbaugh from being a Guess coach ar a camp??? Really…m

  16. Your ideas and composition are of a national quality. It must be nice to have such mental lucidity at this age in your life.
    I’ve noted your name and will look for it in the near future, in national publications: David Bradford.
    I grew up in Ann Arbor, and have always related to Jim Harbaugh (although more brazen than I will ever be), but wondered where his persona would lead. And yes, it is “hard” to keep his pace for everyone involved in his program.
    To cope with his personality I look to my own reaction: I want to go out and play football again, just like I did everyday growing up outside the stadium.

    He loves football. He loves to play football. (Will Peyton pursue coaching BTW?)
    The larger story is the resurrection of a sport that has back-seated to soccer. He is good for the game and he is football’s ambassador and all of us will see that come to pass in the next ten years. He will fulfill as America discovers the joy of touch football in the backyard, front yard, or at the park. It’s funner than soccer because players are involved in every play all the time.
    Congratulations and thank you for practicing cogent journalism.
    (And I hate to admit, but growing up, I was fascinated with Tennessee and the Orange. And local runners went to Tennessee because their track program was dominant).
    Dan Kennedy.

  17. You forget that most of the students that attended these camps were 3 stars and lower – those that were even rated. The “northern” schools are interested in all of them, since many of the students are underrated by the services and the coaches prefer a close up view. Mid-major coaches go along and give out offers too. SBnation has an article about many current players that are at major and mid-major schools that were only noticed due to the satellite camps.

  18. Who cares if he gets a 4/5,star or two?? Are you that insecure that you think no other school can recruit good payers. By the way, Harbaugh did offer a 2 star from one of these camps last year.

  19. As a life long Michigan fan, the thing that struck me when I first attended SEC games is how much more rabid and enthusiastic the fan base is. Every team in the SEC wants to, expects to win in football (okay maybe not Vandy). The problem with the BIG is that outside OSU, Michigan, Iowa (some years), Penn State the rest of the teams are too up and down or just don’t even care about football. Hard to make a comparison to the SEC when teams such as Purdue and Illinois just seem to have given up on football.

  20. Very well said, Mr. Bradford. Terrific article, Thank you. I hope more is done in the media to stick up for the ‘little guy’. That is what it should be about, but unfortunately their concerns have been mute.

  21. The SEC is in full retreat. They have had their way for so long they can’t handle it. Their power is slowly passing. As the Big Ten continues hitting them most (the win column) their downfall will begin to spiral.

  22. Another sad aspect is how the B10 Commissioner rolled over, it is so telling. Its all about money. The only reason Delaney is still around is the BTN. He is incompetent at best, came up with a good marketing tool with the BTN and because it is a great money maker the Presidents of the B10 think they owe him a debt of gratitude, They Don’t. He thinks that he is bigger than the school presidents who he works for not the other way around. The NCAA and its conference AD cabal is in jeopardy of over stepping its mandate, and is about to be taken to court again for the restriction of free trade and the right for a human to earn a living weather in Prattville or Ann Arbor. Oh and not let us think about the poor (I mean poor) kids that can’t travel on their families dime for unofficial visits and their only access to big time coaches is to attend a camp close to home. Again its all about money and has never been about the kids. The coaches and AD’s from the SEC and ACC should all be ashamed to say they have the kids best interest at heart. Pure hypocricy.

  23. good article. someone sees what this is really about. Too bad the SEC doesn’t see the need to help student athletes but only worry about their bottom line. They can claim victory all they want but guess what…he is coming for them !!! and is not even slightly intimidated by them.

  24. The kind of unbiased writing and assessment that can engage a northern boy like myself enough to come back often to read again. What appears as an SEC victory will turn out to be anything but that. It’s intriguing to ponder how Harbaugh might escalate the matter. The NCAA may have more on its plate in the months ahead due to this camp issue than it could have ever imagined.

  25. Let’s be clear though: Coaches from Northern schools aren’t holding satellite camps in the South in pursuit of 2-3 star players. They are going after the coveted 4-5 star players that are pursued by the SEC schools. Harbaugh has the track record and will do about anything to get the players he wants. And that is why the SEC doesn’t want these satellite camps. If an occasional 2 or 3 star player benefits, that is incidental.

  26. The NCAA must drop the false pretense that it puts “student-athletes” first, they just put millionaire SEC coaches first that don’t want as much competition for recruits. These camps were great for poor or under the radar athletes that can’t travel as far to have more opportunities to get noticed or receive instruction. Keep in mind that this hurts small conference schools that tagged alone to these camps and the life messages that some of these camps had, like at the Sound Mind Sound Body camps.

  27. Nice to see an article from an SEC school that illustrates the hypocrisy of the SEC and the jack asses at the NCAA.
    The majority of college teams would be well served by booting the NCAA and chartering a new representative organization that focuses on the good of all student athletes – not just a few.

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