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What's the end game for satellite camps? Look to Jim Delany for insight

Regulation of satellite camps is likely coming as a result of the holistic review of recruiting Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has recommended. Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports

As the dust cleared late last week following the NCAA Board of Directors' demolition job on the ban of satellite camps, a shadowy figure stood in the background -- figuratively speaking, of course.

Could you see him?

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany remained primarily on the sideline during this latest round of debate on the hot-button issue. Delany does not sit among five conference commissioners on the 40-person Division I Council, which, on April 8, enacted the legislation to shut down satellite camps that the board reversed last Thursday.

The 24-member board of directors, chaired by South Carolina President Harris Pastides, includes 20 school presidents and chancellors, one student-athlete, one faculty athletic representative and chair Jim Phillips, the Northwestern athletic director.

Again, no Delany.

But his fingerprints were all over the latest move. Pastides, in a statement released by the NCAA, said the board "is interested in a holistic review of the football recruiting environment" instead of a piece-by-piece attempt at reform.

Delany has made similar comments often, as recently as last month after the council's initial ruling, and dating to last May at the Big Ten meetings in Rosemont, Illinois.

Delany said in April 2015, on the gamut of recruiting issues -- including satellite camps, early signing, early recruiting visits, over-signing, the epidemic of decommitments and grayshirting -- that "all of these things are interrelated."

He helped spearhead the delay of a vote by the league commissioners last June on a proposed early signing period in the name of an evaluation of the complete landscape.

Or as Pastides phrased it last week, a holistic review of the football recruiting environment. The board of directors, in its statement, asked the council to submit "recommendations for improving the recruiting environment" by Sept. 1.

It's almost as if Delany planted the seeds for all of this more than a year ago.

Almost. Surely, even the Big Ten commissioner, who appears at times to think two steps ahead of the game's other power brokers, did not envision the day when Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh would appear at a camp alongside Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Mississippi State's Dan Mullen.

It's scheduled to happen June 8 in Pearl, Mississippi, less than a week after Michigan and Georgia tag team a satellite camp in Atlanta.

Rumblings surfaced on social media Monday of TCU joining forces to stage a camp or camps with Ohio State, USC and Alabama.

Say what? Sounds like a recruiting fantasy. It's not difficult to see where all of this is headed. As longtime college football commentator Tony Barnhart offered this week:

Knock yourself out, fellows, but heed this warning: Left unregulated, in about three years these camps won't have much to do with teaching football to young players. They will be 100 percent recruiting camps, with all the cleanliness of AAU basketball.

Sure, but satellite camps likely won't get that far. Regulation is on the way. It'll be part of new legislation, perhaps as soon as 2017, that comes as a result of the holistic review that Delany helped orchestrate from the behind the scenes.

In effect, he's probably going to play a role in killing satellite camps as we know them -- or don't really want to know them -- after his influence helped give them second life.

So what's next? Delany has his ideas, for sure, and the other recruiting issues that he mentioned that last year are, no doubt, a part of the end game. After all, an amended signing date and earlier official visits dwarf in actual importance the impact for most Big Ten programs of satellite camps.

Perhaps, even, the upcoming holistic review will extend to include issues that we simple-minded observers of college football cannot yet anticipate. And when the dust clears, we'll see who's left standing free of the shadows.