X

SEC Extra Points: Satellite Camps Will Boost SEC Rivalries If Ban Is Lifted

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterApril 7, 2016

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh (left) and Florida head coach Jim McElwain
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh (left) and Florida head coach Jim McElwainReinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The day of reckoning is almost upon us.

The practice of coaches guest-coaching at the camps of smaller colleges and high schools—commonly known as satellite camps—has become a hot-button issue ever since Penn State's James Franklin and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly headed south two summers ago and angered SEC nation.

Coaches in the SEC are forbidden from guest coaching in camps outside of their state borders or a 50-mile radius from campus for schools that are on state borders. 

The NCAA will vote this week and announce Friday whether the conference's push to ban the practice nationwide is successful. As Bleacher Report reported late last month, the SEC will lift its own ban on satellite camps on May 29 if the nationwide ban isn't adopted.

If it isn't, get ready for rivalries to crank up a notch or eight.

Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State's Urban Meyer already have camps set up around the South, and several SEC head coaches including Georgia's Kirby Smart, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Arkansas' Bret Bielema have already stated that they have plans in place if the ban is lifted.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema
Arkansas head coach Bret BielemaJoe Robbins/Getty Images

That may seem like it's about to get heated with coaches and programs from other conferences, but don't be so sure of that.

The reason the SEC's rule is in place to begin with isn't to protect the fertile recruiting ground of the Southeast—it is to protect its own coaches from other coaches within the conference.

That means Sumlin could easily set up shop in Alabama head coach Nick Saban's backyard, Smart could head south to Florida where Gators' head coach Jim McElwain roams, and Malzahn could head to New Orleans where LSU head coach Les Miles routinely cleans up.

Welcome back to the days of Meyer vs. Lane Kiffin circa 2009, when coaches routinely sparred in the offseason to the point where former commissioner Mike Slive was forced to sit them all down at spring meetings and put an end to the madness.

If the conference allows satellite camps, history will repeat itself. 

Coaches will target high-profile players who are committed elsewhere and hold camps at or near their high schools. Coaches will target football factories such as IMG Academy in Brandenton, Florida, and try to lure the best of the best. Coaches will take all of it personally.

Get your popcorn ready.

Veterans Out Front

Alabama QB Cooper Bateman
Alabama QB Cooper BatemanKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The four-man battle to replace Jake Coker as Alabama's starting quarterback appears to be veering more toward the veterans. 

According to Alex Byington of the Montgomery Advertiser, redshirt junior Cooper Bateman and redshirt sophomore David Cornwell have a bit of an edge on redshirt freshman Blake Barnett and true freshman Jalen Hurts thus far through spring practice.

"I think the guys with the most knowledge and experience played the best (in the most recent scrimmage)—when I say that I’m talking about Cooper Bateman, who’s been in the system the longest, and David Cornwell—they’ve probably played best," Saban said, according to Byington.

What does it mean?

Not much, especially when factoring in Saban's next sentence on the two youngsters.

"The two younger guys, even though they demonstrated they have a tremendous amount of upside in terms of the way they played, their consistency and performance, because of their confusion, lack of knowledge and experience, poise under pressure, whatever you want to talk about—which is not unusual, uncommon or surprising for young guys the first time they go out there," he said.

Alabama QB Blake Barnett
Alabama QB Blake BarnettStacy Revere/Getty Images

There's your money quote, because this year—unlike in years past when Alabama has had familiarity and experience at running back and center to help new quarterbacks—the Tide don't have the luxury of easing a veteran quarterback into the mix or letting the battle linger into the season.

The Crimson Tide open with Pac-12 South champion USC at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, host a dangerous Western Kentucky team that can put up points-a-plenty in Week 2 and visit Ole Miss—which has toppled the Tide in each of the last two seasons—in Week 3.

That offense needs to be clicking at a high level in mid-August, not the middle of the season.

Because of that, the upside the younger guys have shown needs to translate to consistency sooner rather than later. If it doesn't, Alabama could run the risk of dropping two games in September, which would put it out of the national title race. 

It doesn't have to be this spring. Barnett and Hurts could take charge during offseason workouts and take control of the job during the early stages of fall camp. But that upside has to be realized, because the specific roster holes on Alabama's offense coupled with the even more treacherous early-season gauntlet makes this quarterback race different than the previous two.

A Punch Line No More

Auburn DT Montravius Adams (top)
Auburn DT Montravius Adams (top)Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Auburn's defense has been a laughingstock for the majority of head coach Gus Malzahn's tenure as the head coach on the Plains, but things changed last November. 

Over the final month of the season and the Birmingham Bowl win over the high-octane Memphis offense, Auburn gave up just 339 yards per game and 4.66 yards per play. The return of defensive end Carl Lawson from a hip injury played a big part of that success, and he returns with a deep group of defensive linemen including tackle Montravius Adams, tackle Dontavius Russell, upstart freshman Marlon Davidson and sophomore Byron Cowart.

"Besides my freshman year (2013), yes, this is the deepest we’ve ever been," Adams said, according to Brandon Marcello of SECCountry.com. "And this ain’t even everybody. We’ve still got three or four more guys coming in at tackle and end."

That should terrify fans of other teams, because Auburn proved in 2010 (when it finished with the best rush defense in the country and had tackle Nick Fairley living in the backfield) and 2013 (when it won the SEC and played for the national title) that a deep, talented and versatile defensive line is the perfect complement to the tempo-based offense that Malzahn employs.

The pieces are in place for Auburn to have the same kind of success in the trenches on defense. If Malzahn can just make the right call at quarterback and fix his predictable play-calling, this Auburn team can contend for the division title.

Godwin for the Win

Georgia WR Terry Godwin
Georgia WR Terry GodwinScott Cunningham/Getty Images

Georgia desperately needs a wide receiver to emerge this offseason and become a deep threat in order to take pressure off the running game led by juniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, as well as whoever wins the starting quarterback job.

With a little more than a week to go in spring practice, sophomore Terry Godwin appears up for the challenge.

According to Seth Emerson of Dawg Nation, the 5'11", 174-pounder from Hogansville, Georgia, is being used in a variety of different ways by first-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.

Consider this a continuation from his last couple of outings.

Godwin caught eight passes for 78 yards in Georgia's win over Georgia Tech and followed it up with four catches, 34 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown and a 34-yard touchdown pass in the win over Penn State in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

Chaney is well-versed on creating mismatches for his wide receivers before the snap, including in 2012 at Tennessee when Cordarrelle Patterson caught 46 passes and carried the ball 26 times for the Volunteers. 

Godwin doesn't have the 6'3", 205-pound frame that Patterson had in his only year with Chaney on Rocky Top, but he could have the same impact.

Costly Experiment

LSU DB/KR Donte Jackson
LSU DB/KR Donte JacksonGerald Herbert/Associated Press

LSU cornerback/special teams speedster Donte Jackson has been a busy man this spring, balancing spring football with track. Unfortunately for him and both of his teams, things have changed.

Ross Dellenger of the Advocate reported this week that Jackson, a 5'11", 167-pound sophomore who found his way into the rotation at defensive back last year and returned eight kickoffs for 164 yards, let his academics slip and is ineligible for the rest of the spring semester. According to Dellenger, Jackson should get back on track this summer and be ready for fall camp.

How concerned should LSU fans be?

Slightly.

After all, Jackson does have work to do in order to get back in good standing, and that's always an uphill battle. But he participated in most of spring practice before LSU discovered the issue with his grades, so a little bit of extra rest could actually help him get ready for his expanded role in 2016.

One of the fastest players in college football, Jackson will be a major contributor for an LSU defense that routinely uses three cornerbacks; he can also chip in on special teams and as a change-of-pace option for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

Quick Outs

  • Smart offered 18 players from IMG Academy at one time, according to Jeff Sentell of Dawg Nation. No, that's not a case of Smart following in the footsteps of Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, who did something similar in February. It's just a case of Smart making a big impression with recruits—which is his job.
  • Speaking of Tennessee, here's legendary Vol quarterback Peyton Manning singing "Rocky Top" at a bar with Lee Brice. 
  • Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has replaced Miami head coach Mark Richt as the only coach on the NCAA's football oversight committee, ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg reports. The committee, which was created last year, is responsible for the enhancement of the educational and athletic experience of student-athletes.

Quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted, and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.