The satellite camp debate is only the start. Recruiting should expand to the final frontier. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)
There has been a lot of debate about satellite camps recently. Most notably, there was the SEC's disgruntlement at Penn State's decision to partake in a football camp at Georgia State. NCAA rules prohibit programs from running camps at out-of-state locations more than 50 miles from campus, but that doesn't prevent staffs from working camps at other schools.
The SEC has a rule banning "guest coaching" more than 50 miles from campus. It wants Penn State to stay in its own backyard. Now, the conference is considering trying to close the loophole that allows coaches to work camps outside a 50-mile radius. Via Brett McMurphy and Edward Aschoff of ESPN:
"It's that kind of thing that gets us to think about our rules," [SEC commissioner Mike] 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."
That's not stopping other programs. Notre Dame is planning to work a camp at Georgia State over the summer. Franklin has no intention of changing his tactics. Basically, SEC coaches are mad that coaches from other leagues are disrupting the delicate ecosystem that is SEC country. The question is: What will they do about it?
One solution is to close the loophole. But that's not thinking big enough. The SEC has another, more powerful way of striking back at all the pesky satellite camps across the country.
The SEC needs to use Space Camp.
Imagine a five-star defensive end from Marietta, Ga., pulling up to Huntsville, Ala., for the first time. He is greeted by Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, who is casually dressed in a full NASA space suit. The lineman, befuddled, asks Freeze, "Where are the tackling dummies?" With a chuckle and a twinkle in his eye, Freeze replies, "There are no tackling dummies. But we do have a zero-gravity simulator we're sure you're going to love."
BOOOOOOOOM. That's the sound of your recruiting strategy being blown to pieces, James Franklin.
How can the Big Ten respond? Well, quite honestly, it can't. It doesn't have Space Camp. It doesn't have cool scientific instruments, authentic moon rock(s) and the ability to teach the finer points of atmospheric pressure. Sure, it has Culver's ButterBurgers® and custard, delicious Amish cheese, surprisingly underrated farm-to-table restaurants with seasonal ingredients and eclectic architecture that reflects a strong immigrant heritage. But it doesn't even have astronaut ice cream. (Yes, I know American hero John Glenn is from Ohio, but that's beside the point. John Glenn ain't running no Space Camp, pawwwwllllllll.)
The whole notion of some schools getting angry at other schools for using rules to their advantage is pointless. Trying to constrict creative thinking won't benefit the SEC or any other conference. Instead, school leaders should work to find the next recruiting edge. They should expand their thinking -- and what's more expansive than space?
I don't know the NCAA's rules regarding Space Camp, but I know this: If the SEC wants to use Space Camp, the SEC will find a way to use Space Camp. The satellite camp debate was just the impetus. Let's look toward the heavens and focus on the future. There's no point bickering over 50 miles when there are light-years of recruits just waiting for their shot.