News trickled out earlier this month that Penn State coach James Franklin and his staff will be coaching at two different camps in the south in conjunction with Georgia State in Atlanta and Stetson University in Deland, Fla.
The idea is to get the Penn State name seen in a part of the country where prospects are plentiful but those prospects may not be able to make their way to central Pennsylvania for a camp on PSU's campus. NCAA rules don’t allow schools to run camps more than 50 miles from their campus, but as guests of Georgia State on June 10 and Stetson on June 11, Penn State is not breaking any rules.
SEC coaches are not very happy about it.
“There have been a lot of schools doing that for years,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said at this week's SEC meetings, per the AP. “The spirit of that (NCAA) rule is not to have satellite camps all over the place.”
The SEC has a rule that does not allow league coaches to be guests at another school’s camp and the league’s coaches are clearly concerned about Franklin, who left Vanderbilt to take the Penn State job, and other coaches encroaching on their recruiting territory. During Franklin’s time at Vanderbilt, he successfully recruited 13 prospects from Georgia and wants to continue to dip into that talent pool at his new gig.
Schools like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have worked with small schools in Texas to work with prospects in the state, so Franklin isn’t the first coach to take advantage of this loophole. Boise State is doing it this summer too, with camps in the Houston, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Spokane metro areas, per the Idaho Statesman.
According to ESPN.com, SEC coaches have reached out to commissioner Mike Slive, who would then have to contact the NCAA about potentially closing the loophole.
“It’s that kind of thing that gets us to think about our rules,” Slive said. “They (SEC coaches) like our rule; they don’t like the so-called satellite camps. They see it as a loophole and asked us to see what we can do about that.”
Other league coaches think the SEC rule should be the same for other conferences across the country.
“I wish it was a national rule,” said Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze. “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.”
To put it simply, the SEC and its coaches feel threatened and feel like these camp setups could open the door for other coaches to follow Penn State’s lead and set up similar arrangements with smaller, Southern schools in SEC territory.
Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said as much.
“That’s our backyard, so anytime those things happen, your eyes and ears perk up to say, ‘What do we need to address (the issue) if that’s a hindrance,’” Bjork said. “If it’s a competitive disadvantage, then we need to look at it.”
The SEC could start by changing its own rule. If the NCAA allows it, why would the SEC not want to take advantage of it?
“We all would if we could,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. “I don’t want to speak for everyone in the room, but from what I heard in there, most of our coaches would be in favor of at least being on an even playing field.”
If what Stoops said is the case, then maybe the conference should look inward.
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