Print and Go Back ESPN.com: College Football [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Updated: May 29, 10:07 AM ET
SEC coaches concerned about camps

By Brett McMurphy and Edward Aschoff
ESPN.com

DESTIN, Fla. -- This summer, Penn State coach James Franklin and his staff will be coaching at football camps deep in the heart of SEC country, and, quite frankly, the conference's coaches don't like it one bit.

And they have asked SEC commissioner Mike Slive to try to put a stop to it.

Franklin and his Penn State staff plan to coach and work with prospects at camps at Georgia State University in Atlanta and Stetson University in Deland, Florida.

"Our thought was that the Big Ten and NCAA rules allow you to do these things," Franklin told reporters earlier this month. "And we wanted to not only have camps on our campus -- which we're going to have a bunch of them -- but also be able to maybe take the Penn State brand and be able to take it to part of the country [where] maybe young men and families wouldn't be able to make it to our place. And I'm fired up about it. It seems like the high school coaches are as well."

Franklin, the former Vanderbilt coach, has drawn the biggest headlines for having his staff work with high school recruits fairly close to the University of Georgia and University of Florida campuses.

But other schools also are taking advantage of working camps off campus. This summer, the staffs from Oklahoma State and New Mexico are scheduled to work camps in several Texas towns -- Belton, San Antonio, Pearland, Spring, Rockwall and Dallas -- and Iowa's coaching staff is scheduled to work in Chicago at Lake Forest College.

By comparison, SEC rules prohibit coaches at SEC schools from "guest coaching" more than 50 miles from campus.

"It continues to be more of an issue," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.

Seven years ago, the NCAA passed Rule 13.12.1.2, limiting where football programs can run high school camps -- basically any out-of-state location that sits more than 50 miles from campus. However, a loophole allows coaching staffs to work at -- but not hold -- other camps outside the 50-mile radius.

This gives Franklin and his staff a chance to work one-on-one with prospects who normally wouldn't make the trek to Penn State or Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy the ability to work with prospects from Texas without the players having to visit Stillwater.

Franklin said earlier this month that he thought such camps were an invaluable recruiting tool.

"We're going to go wherever we have to go to find players," Franklin said. "We're going to read the rules and understand the rules, and, like you guys have heard me say before, it's not like we're going to lack for enthusiasm or lack for work ethic. We'll go wherever we got to go."

In February, Big Ten coaches discussed this practice to determine whether it should be allowed within the conference in the future. No decision was made, though, so the practice is well within the rules for now.

"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."

Slive said the SEC would have to approach the NCAA about closing the loophole.

Tallahassee (Florida) Godby High School offensive tackle Brendan Loftus recently told Scout.com that Penn State assistant Herb Hand invited him to the camp the Nittany Lions are attending at Stetson University in Deland.

Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze said the SEC coaches "would like all the rules to be the same."

"I wish it was a national rule," Freeze said. "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."

Mississippi State's Dan Mullen believes the national rule should be the same as the SEC's rule.

"I think it's a rule that makes sense," Mullen said. "If you're going to have a football camp ... I don't know how Penn State relates to Georgia State football camp, but for us, I think our league [rule] will make sense."

Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork added the league wants to protect "our home turf" and "recruit to our home turf every time we get a chance."

"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."

Information from ESPN.com's Josh Moyer was used in this report.