If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
For SEC coaches to curb what they perceive as an unfair recruiting practice, that's the attitude the league office should take.
A hot-button issue this offseason has been the rise of satellite camps. NCAA rules prohibit schools from holding out-of-state camps outside of a 50-mile radius from campus, but only the SEC prohibits "guest coaching" on other campuses.
The result has been the creation of "satellite camps," where coaches from schools "guest coach" at the camps of other schools, hoping in part to create some recruiting momentum in other parts of the world.
Current Penn State and former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and members of his staff worked at camps at Georgia State and Stetson this summer, hoping to capitalize on the fertile recruiting grounds of metro Atlanta and central Florida, respectively. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly intends to set up a camp in the near future at Georgia State, Oregon and Oregon State coaches routinely visit camps in California, and Oklahoma State has its fingerprints all over the state of Texas.
There's a good reason coaches are interested in satellite camps. A total of 156 of the 316 4-star players in 247Sports' class of 2015 rankings hail from Georgia, Florida, Texas and California. As the old saying goes, "It's not the X's and O's, it's the Jimmys and the Joes."
"It's our job to do everything in our power within the rules to give Penn State a competitive advantage," Franklin said at Big Ten media days this week, according to ASAPSports.com. "And whatever that may be, whether it's recruiting certain parts of the country, whatever it may be, whether it's the satellite camps, we're going to look into all those things."
Franklin told Matt Hayes of SportingNews.com in June that it isn't about quantity.
“If we get one player from this camp,” says new Penn State coach James Franklin, “it’s worth it.”
Outrage in the SEC? It exists, but Franklin doesn't understand why.
Franklin says he didn't understand why his satellite camps received as much attention as it did. #PSU— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) July 28, 2014
Good for Franklin for standing up for himself and his job, because leading up to Big Ten media days, SEC coaches were up in arms about the rise of satellite camps.
"I wish it was a national rule," Freeze told ESPN.com during spring meetings in May. "I don't particularly want another school in a BCS conference coming into our state and running a camp. So we would like to see our rule be a national rule. I'd love to see it be the same."
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive intends to address the issue with the NCAA, but there's a more appropriate reaction for the SEC's coaches: Get over it.
If the rest of the NCAA comes back to the SEC's rule, it regionalizes what has increasingly become a national sport.
Yes, coaching in the SEC comes with the perk of being in the middle of one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. But that doesn't mean there's a brick wall surrounding the territory. If programs want to recruit nationally and feel it's worth it, they should be allowed to do so with no restrictions.
Is it unfair to SEC schools? Sure.
The SEC, however, should lift its rule and let its coaches work "satellite camps," not have the rest of the country come back to it.
Besides, it's not like the SEC gets the short end of the stick from a recruiting standpoint. Why do you think Alabama routinely plays in high-profile kickoff games to open the season? Those programs want big-time programs to play in their games. Alabama knows that by going to places like Atlanta and suburban Dallas on opening weekend, it gains more of a foothold in the area.
Is that fair to the Texas schools and other schools that routinely depend on the Lone Star State? Of course not. Those are the breaks.
It's nothing new. Holding camps and making its presence felt in Florida was a big reason Rutgers made a splash on the national stage in the mid-1990s, according to The New York Times.
"Rutgers showcased the program as a unique alternative for recruits, especially from the Broward and Miami-Dade County areas, where they could receive a world-class education, grow up beyond their comfort zone, make an early impact and be of a foundation capable of taking the team to another level on the national radar," said Tyler Donohue, B/R's national recruiting writer and former recruiting assistant at Rutgers from 2006-2008.
For Rutgers back then, it was all about creating options.
"Many of them arrived at Rutgers feeling they had something to prove after being passed over by in-state powers Florida, Florida State and Miami," Donohue said. "They knew there would be an early opportunity to make an impact, something that might not have existed on those other rosters. It made for a great locker room. Friendly rivalry and competition between the Northeast natives and Florida transplants."
Other than the SEC's rule prohibiting its coaches from working at satellite camps, what's not to like about them?
As B/R national lead writer Ben Kercheval noted this spring, they're great for the prospects. After all, isn't that what it should be all about? They allow lesser-known prospects to display their talents in front of big-time coaches, give local prospects more options nationally to choose from and expand the reach of smaller schools that are looking to be more competitive.
What's not to like?
SEC coaches love the conference due in part to the accessibility it has to some of the country's top recruits, but they can't have their cake and eat it too.
Satellite camps are great for the sport, and they should be here to stay.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.