The controversy over satellite camps continues to persist in the SEC.
In a piece by ESPN’s Edward Aschoff, seven SEC head coaches chimed in on the topic of satellite camps. Despite all the talk over eliminating them over the past year, four of the coaches
Three of the seven coaches interviewed for the story spoke against the practice altogether: Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze.
“If you want to spend millions of dollars and run around and put your logo all over the place to recruit one kid, go right ahead,” Stoops said.
Stoops and his staff still participated in camps, though, while Malzahn and Freeze abstained from attending any. Freeze was concerned about all the possible ethical problems the camps can create. Some camps ask schools to pay extra to be able to see certain prospects. The camps are also difficult to organize and control, leading to illegal contact between coaches and recruits.
“I want no part of that,” Freeze said. “It’s going to become AAU basketball … that’s why I didn’t go and I won’t go.”
Saban agreed, pointing to the possibility of other parties profiting off the recruiting process.
“When you introduce a third party in doing these things, do you allow somebody to make money who influences a player to do something?” Saban said. “That’s what we’ve always tried to eliminate.”
Malzahn, meanwhile, expressed worry over how the camps detract from coaches’ ability to spend time with their own players.
“You want to be around your players, don’t you? That’s the most important thing,” Malzahn said. “Yet coaches are gone 30 days and aren’t around our players. What? Who would want to play in that atmosphere? I wouldn’t.”
The other three coaches–Jim McElwain at Florida, Barry Odom at Missour and Bret Bielema at Arkansas–were either indifferent to or in favor of the camps. Odom said he views them as a teaching opportunity.
“It was great for the game of football because you get to go coach ball for three hours and provide those kids the chance to learn,” Odom said. “That’s awesome. That’s a great part of it. I know the guys that came through the linebacker drills, I know they got better because we coached them hard.”
While the coaches were split on whether they liked the practice or if they would participate, they all agreed things could be done to reduce the problems involved. Some of their recommendations included extending the evaluation period during the recruiting cycle and having camps sponsored by bowl games or the NFL.
The controversy persists because the practice of satellite camps is not going away. These coaches have voiced how they feel about them, but now they have to learn how to deal with them.