SEC Threatening to Change Recruiting Forever If Satellite Camps Continue

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMay 27, 2015

USA Today

DESTIN, Fla. — Jim Harbaugh has poked the bear, and the bear is coming out of hibernation.

Ultra-compelling storylines of the past like realignment and scheduling aren't dominating the headlines like they have in previous SEC spring meeting sessions. They have been replaced by one that rallies the SEC troops more so than any recent legislative storyline.

Satellite camps—the unifying force of SEC coaches.

As it stands right now, SEC and ACC head coaches can't "guest coach" at camps outside of a 50-mile radius from their campuses, while coaches from the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 take advantage of a loophole by bringing their staffs to smaller schools to hold what essentially amount to recruiting combines.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said on Tuesday that the league's 14 coaches were unanimous against satellite camps. 

"All of us are against it, obviously, but there comes a point where we need to start doing it to keep up with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, the northern schools that are coming into the South," Spurrier said.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
South Carolina head coach Steve SpurrierRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

SEC coaches are understandably paranoid over coaches from high-profile programs—like Harbaugh at Michigan—invading the fertile SEC recruiting ground in an attempt to lure prospects north.

In fact, some even admit it.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze
Ole Miss head coach Hugh FreezeRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

"I guess it’s a selfish position, somewhat," Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze admitted. "I kind of like it the way it is for us, but I totally understand if I was sitting somewhere, and in my recruiting circle, there are satellite camps going on, I would want the freedom to do the same."

The SEC has had enough.

Commissioner Mike Slive and commissioner-elect Greg Sankey announced on Tuesday that the conference will propose national legislation that mirrors the SEC rule prohibiting coaches from guest coaching outside of the 50-mile radius outside state borders.

The conference announced this week that it will propose national legislation that will mirror the SEC's current rule. If it's not adopted, however, the SEC will allow its coaches to "canvas the nation" and lift its ban in 2016.

"If that’s going to be the competitive landscape, they want to be fully engaged if the rule doesn’t change nationally."

Like his predecessor Slive was known for, this is Sankey's version of walking softly but carrying a big stick.

SEC commissioner-elect Greg Sankey
SEC commissioner-elect Greg SankeyMark Humphrey/Associated Press

It's the SEC's version of laying down the hammer and saying, "If you don't do what we want, it's on."

This is an ultimatum laid down by the SEC that could change recruiting in a big way. 

The obvious and immediate byproduct of the SEC's rule being lifted and coaches being able to hold camps nationwide would be the further expansion of the national brand. Alabama reeled in prospects from all over the country last year, including California, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Texas. 

If allowed, could head coach Nick Saban make a killing by holding a camp in Southern California? You bet he could.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick SabanButch Dill/Associated Press

Would Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn not-so-subtly troll Michigan by guest coaching at a camp in Michigan? It wouldn't be the most shocking development in the world.

LSU head coach Les Miles would be a willing participant in satellite camps if the SEC doesn't get its way.

"Should that not be a violation, I promise you, we'll do it all summer next year," he said. "Next year, we'll be in all different locations."

By exposing the loophole and guest coaching in SEC territory, coaches like Harbaugh, Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Penn State's James Franklin are on the verge of waking the bear out of hibernation. 

SEC programs are already nationally recognizable, and the ability to hold camps nationally will only increase their presence.

But the SEC becoming the wild, wild west of satellite camps could also impact the home front.

If SEC coaches are allowed to guest coach at camps, and there's no limit on the number of events they can hold, the more meaningful impact would be within the conference.

Instead of going to Columbus, Ohio, and plucking a prospect out from under Meyer's nose, Saban could organize an event at Auburn High School next to his intrastate rivals. Georgia head coach Mark Richt could set up shop in Jacksonville, Florida, and hold a "cocktail party camp" on the banks of the St. Johns River.

The unified stance against satellite camps will be replaced with the same angst and animosity that exist now, amplified to a much higher level due to the same conference affiliation.

That's not good for the conference, but it might be the only option if satellite camps are as much of a threat as they're being made out to be this week in Destin.

Sankey said that votes are weighted among FBS conferences, with FBS Power Five conferences getting two votes to every "Group of Five" FBS vote—with a simple majority of those 15 needed to pass the measure. 

With three conferences behind and benefiting from satellite camps and Group of Five FBS schools benefiting from the exposure created by high-profile coaches at their camps, it's going to be an uphill battle for the SEC to ban satellite camps. 

At that point, we'll see if the SEC's ultimatum is all bark or if it has some bite behind it.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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