Satellite camps are all the rage around college football.
Coaches are leaving their cozy, summer couches to help run camps/recruiting evaluation events all around the nation. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh made them a thing when they really weren't, and now the SEC, which was initially against them, is jumping into the fray.
Even though the SEC is in the infant stages of satellite fun, do these camps really mean a lot to head coaches? So far, we've seen more assistant coaches hit the road to tackle these camps, but head coaches aren't exactly putting in the effort to take the camps seriously.
So, should they?
Greg Ostendorf: I went to a satellite camp hosted by Harbaugh and a handful of Michigan assistants last week in Mississippi. It was unique, to say the least. But one thing struck me as odd: Why were there not more SEC head coaches present?
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen made an appearance, but he was the only one. Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze? He was participating in a golf pro-am up in Memphis. Auburn's Gus Malzahn? He was in Oklahoma City to see the Auburn softball team compete in the national championship. And it’s been that way at a number of satellite camps this offseason. Freeze and Malzahn, along with Alabama's Nick Saban, have said they won’t be attending any of these satellite camps.
You’re letting Harbaugh come into your back yard, and regardless of whether or not he steals a recruit from that area, he makes kids think twice about Michigan.
If it were me, I’d at least make an appearance at the camp to show recruits I’m not going to sit back while another coach comes into my territory. Credit Mullen for showing up. In fact, the majority of SEC coaches have attended various satellite camps across the Southeast. Vanderbilt's Derek Mason joined Harbaugh in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for a camp Tuesday.
But for those head coaches who have remained stubborn to change on this, it makes no sense. You don’t have to make 25-plus stops across the country like Harbaugh is doing. But don’t fall behind, either. Sending a position coach or a graduate assistant just isn’t the same.
Edward Aschoff: Oh, my poor Greg. Like so many out there, you have become mesmerized by the hype of satellite camps. While they seem like the new, super-cool fad taking over college football, I assure you they aren’t, and likely never will be.
I’ll concede that on some level, satellite camps do help smaller schools that need to expand their brand. And for that reason, you’ll see some of those head coaches go out on the road to work at a few. But when it comes to the majority of SEC head coaches, there really isn’t an advantage for them to show up to any of these circus camps outside their own campus.
SEC coaches are big enough and their programs are big enough that prospects will come to them. Saban should never step off Alabama’s campus to evaluate anyone at a camp. Georgia's Kirby Smart and Florida's Jim McElwain don’t have to leave their respective college towns, but they certainly shouldn’t go any farther than nearby big cities, like Atlanta or Jacksonville. Smart and Mullen showing up with Harbaugh won't be the norm. Les Miles could go to Texas, but he doesn’t need to because LSU is the show in Louisiana, and kids from Texas (and all over) will always flock to Baton Rouge.
The same goes for Malzahn at Auburn and Butch Jones at Tennessee. They could venture out if they wanted to, but don’t expect a lot of travel from either of them as they send their assistants to participate at these gimmick camps.
Heck, even Kentucky’s Mark Stoops downplayed their significance, and he could benefit from expanding Kentucky’s brand!
At the end of the day, none of these big-time SEC coaches will dedicate real, extensive time to these things. Unless you start to see the best prospects in the country consistently travel to and participate in them, head coaches will sit at home to recruit, while assistants hit the road.
Ostendorf: That’s where I think the game is changing. Top prospects are beginning to come to these camps, and a lot of it has to do with the allure of Harbaugh being there.
The camp in Mississippi had three ESPN 300 prospects, including running back Cam Akers -- ranked No. 25 overall -- who said he attended just to see Harbaugh. Tuesday’s camp in Tennessee featured elite recruit JaCoby Stevens, an athlete who is ranked No. 24 overall. Ideally, SEC schools would love to get these kids on campus. And some probably do. But why not take advantage of going to see them at a camp?
And more important, don’t let these coaches from other conferences come in and make an impression. Akers is planning to visit Michigan now because of Harbaugh’s camp. Will he go there? Probably not. But the door is open.
Aschoff: Three ESPN 300 prospects and two top-25 prospects? Well, SEC head coaches should rush to the travel department!
In all seriousness, it's still not a big deal. Harbaugh has to come down to the South to make an impression. SEC head coaches already have inroads here and don't need to leave their campuses to work guys out. And chances are, Freeze will get to see all three of those prospects on his own campus before national signing day. So swing away, coach!
Head coaches don't need to put in the work right now, and until you start seeing top prospects consistently participate in droves, head coaches ain't sweating this. And why would the best prospects in the country even worry about these kinds of camps? There are already plenty of elite camps these recruits workout at and get far better evaluations from. Satellite camps are beneficial for some, but not the top-tier players.
I think satellite camps are great, but they shouldn't be priorities for SEC head coaches. They are more Sasquatch than anything else.