Drink in that pun-rich headline, but understand the sentiment is genuine: Speaking at a Crimson Caravan event, AL.com reports Nick Saban called satellite camps “ridiculous”, but Nick Saban is the one being ridiculous.
Some joke Saban would win in a landslide if he ran for governor of Alabama. He’ll likely never launch a campaign, but he’s certainly an adept politician. Satellite camps are the latest effort coaches have made to erase the gap between the Crimson Tide and the rest of the college football.
And, like uptempo offenses, Saban is using his pulpit as college football’s most successful head coach to decry the practice and seek the NCAA to legislate it out of existence.
Per AL.com, Saban said:
It’s something we ought to look at from an NCAA standpoint because I think it’s best to have a rule where people come to your campus, they can come to your camp.
Big Ten programs specifically are using satellite camps to expand their reach nationally. Among the criticisms of Big Ten football in recent years is that the migration of Americans to other parts of the country drained the conference’s local recruiting base.
Consider these camps the proverbial mountain going to Mohammed.
Certainly satellite camps have a very clear purpose for coaches like Penn State’s James Franklin, who was the first to aggressively use the concept, as well as Michigan newcomer Jim Harbaugh. If satellite camps weren’t a potential recruiting tool, Michigan’s wouldn’t be located almost exclusively in talent-rich locations like Texas, Florida, Southern California and — yes — Alabama:
— Chris Partridge (@CoachCPartridge) April 16, 2015
But these camps also have a benefit for smaller programs who co-host them.
When this pseudo-controversy last arose a year ago, I spotlighted Georgia State head coach Trent Miles opening his program to Franklin and Penn State. There’s residual benefit to be had for programs such as Georgia State, which lack the resources and name-recognition of top-tier schools like Alabama.
Partnering with a Penn State is a great way to expand the Georgia State name, and get a look at prospects who might fly below the Power Five radar.
And that’s another group these camps benefit: recruits. More opportunities for exposure to more programs is a great thing for high school players seeking a scholarship. Even with gray-shirts, Nick Saban can’t sign every recruit in the South.