Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson: Replace satellite camps with open combines
ATLANTA — Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson doesn’t oppose the NCAA’s recent decision to ban satellite camps.
“I think that that’s probably the right thing to do,” Johnson told SI.com on Wednesday. “When I first started coaching a long time ago, camps were for instruction and helping younger guys. Very few prospects came to camps; it was like, teams. Well, gradually it’s changed to where it’s all about recruiting.
On April 8 the NCAA’s Division I management council voted to shut down satellite camps, effective immediately. The new rule forces FBS programs to conduct camps only “at their school’s facilities or at facilities regularly used for practice or competition.”
The SEC originally called for the ban when Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh went on a “Summer Swarm” tour last summer that took him to camps in seven states over nine days. Harbaugh was slated to coach at other camps around the country this summer.
Johnson’s conference, the ACC, joined the SEC as the major proponents of a ban on satellite camps. According to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, Mountain West and Sun Belt voted for the rule change, while the American Athletic Conference, Big Ten, Conference USA and MAC voted against the ban.
The reasoning behind the ACC and SEC’s leadership to pass the ban is simple: Because most schools in both conferences reside in talent-rich regions of the country, those two leagues didn’t like other leagues encroaching on their territory.
“I think it’s like anything else: I think people make it about their best interests,” Johnson says. “But not just camps—they do that about everything. What’s in their best interest? If you talk about linemen downfield on passes, if you do it, you don’t want to change the rule. They talk about cut-blocking, if you do it, you don’t want to change the rule. Then people will use whatever logic they can to represent their point.”
But the ban on satellite camps has faced strong opposition. The new rule prohibits Group of Five coaches from working camps at Power 5 programs, which was one of the most cost-effective ways for smaller programs to recruit. Satellite camps also allowed recruits to be seen by several different coaches at the same time, making them a cost-effective way to get noticed. On Wednesday Johnson said regional combines could potentially serve as an alternative.
“You can have area combines, and all the coaches can go to those combines,” Johnson says. “If that’s what you want it for—if you want it for recruiting—then quit doing camps. Quit charging the kids to come.
“But the camps—we’re our own worst enemy. There would be a rule, and people would find a way to fudge the rule, then they’d have to go back and make another rule. That’s why the [rule] book is as big as it is.”