The issue of satellite camps has taken center stage this summer. Several SEC coaches have addressed the topic since the spring, and several more weighed in during the SEC meetings in Destin a few weeks ago. Shortly after that, pale Dad Bod made the rounds. Once this issue seems to have just faded into the digital ether, it always seems to resurface. The latest round was published by 247sports last Friday (it's unclear when these remarks were made) in which Kentucky coach Mark Stoops added his voice to the debate:
"If this doesn’t change on a national level, then you’ll see everyone of us out there in full force all over the country...If that’s what we want to do nationally...then we’ll be glad to partake in that...We are opposed to it."
Kentucky's athletic director also made it clear he opposed satellite camps. Their argument is flawed on several counts. First, there is the human factor. More options for recruits will always be a good thing. This is self evident.
Second, satellite camps may be a publicity nuisance, but it's far from known whether they'll have more than a marginal impact on the SEC's recruiting turf. It's one thing for a recruit from Georgia to find himself really liking James Franklin and his staff at a June camp. It's another thing all together for him to pay his way out-of-pocket to make an unofficial visit to Happy Valley, or use one of his five official visits several months later when the mutual feelings may have dimmed. How many recruits sign with schools they never visit? Any decision the recruit makes will be relative based on the attention he's getting from other schools too.
Finally, Mark Stoops' stance is incorrect because it's a strategic miscalculation for his program unlike other SEC programs. Under Stoops, Kentucky has exploited the rich recruiting state of Ohio, but has had less success in the South. If the SEC were to allow satellite camps, Kentucky -- and other SEC football programs not located in talent-rich states like Georgia, Louisiana, or Florida -- would benefit by building relationships with recruits who previously had no plans to visit their campuses. Stoops and his staff have proven they are capable of recruiting successes despite the state of the program, which suggests they would make inroads at camps in places like Florida, Alabama, or South Carolina. Recruits from those areas may not have initially wanted to go to the trouble to visit Lexington, but after getting to know UK's staff that could easily change going by recent recruiting successes.
It's somewhat surprising none of the SEC programs have come out for a change in policy. That can probably be chalked up to conference solidarity, but it's hard to imagine the staffs in places like Columbia, Nashville, Oxford, or College Station wouldn't want the opportunity to promote themselves in the deep South. All these schools still carry the SEC brand to SEC raised recruits which is an edge B1G schools will never be able to claim in addition to their geographic disadvantages. A change of policy would also allow SEC schools to go on the offensive and hold camps across the country.
This is an odd hill to choose to die on for the conference. Even more puzzling is the coach and athletic director at Kentucky supporting the existing policy if their words are to be taken for truth.