It turns out that the idea of aggressively pursuing satellite camping didn’t spring unbidden from the mind of Jim Harbaugh like some sort of college football Athena. Nah, there was a lot of begettin’ before he got started.
No one voting on the ban apparently thought of the potential consequences for recruits if Group of Five coaches weren’t allowed to work Power 5 camps—something both groups want—so it would not be the least bit shocking if the ban gets tossed. The leagues that want a ban would then be asked to go back and write a more carefully worded rule.
If that happens, the coaches who were planning satellite camps will probably reinstate those plans. That includes Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who planned to have coaches work camps at Florida International, Rutgers and a few other schools. The Razorbacks also had preliminary plans to hold a camp at Cowboys Stadium. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is an Arkansas alumnus. “I was shocked by [the ruling] the other day,” Bielema told Jack Arute and me Friday on SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation. “We were ready to rock ‘n’ roll. I was kind of in favor of them.”
Bielema also provided a little backstory for how the satellite camp issue has evolved. If you’ve been reading this space, you already know the first Power 5 staff to think of teaming with a lower-level school in a recruit-rich state was Oklahoma State’s, which partnered with Division III power Mary Hardin-Baylor to work camps in Texas. It was Bielema who took brochures from those camps to the SEC’s spring meetings in Destin, Fla., a few years ago to let conference coaches know about the practice. (Given Arkansas’s location, Bielema’s intent was likely to convince the SEC to change its rule so Razorbacks coaches could fan out.) At the time, James Franklin was the coach at Vanderbilt. The next year, he had moved to Penn State. Franklin’s Nittany Lions staff began working camps in Georgia and Florida. When Jim Harbaugh arrived at Michigan, he saw what the Penn State coaches were doing and decided to build on it.
And here we are.