clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Here's why Hugh Freeze and Jim Harbaugh are beefing over satellite camps

The head coaches at Ole Miss and Michigan have been trading barbs in the media recently. What's the deal with these satellite camps, and why do they have everyone so riled up?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Satellite camps have been in the news a lot lately, with both knowledgeable and horribly uninformed people wanting to give their two cents. My hope is that I'm more of the former, but my wife may contend otherwise.

Jim Harbaugh wanted to set up satellite camps in the South.

For those of you who don't know, a satellite camp, a concept championed by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, is basically just a formal evaluation of a large number of recruits which occurs outside of the college-in-question's own "stomping grounds." Harbaugh has talked about doing camps in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, California, the Northeast, and several other places.

The benefit is two-fold. The small college that helps him facilitate this camp gets to evaluate a huge number of players, the vast majority of which won't receive scholarships from Michigan, while the Wolverines get some face-to-face time with elite players in regions of the country that wouldn't otherwise make that easy. Obviously, the strong schools nearby don't really want to have to deal with the extra competition  of a program like Michigan who isn't usually involved in the deep south, California, etc.

Hugh Freeze and other SEC coaches did not like this idea.

Well the NCAA's conferences voted on a proposal to ban satellite camps and succeeded. The NCAA outlawed them earlier this weekAsked for comment by the Clarion Ledger, Hugh Freeze had this to say.

I understand there's one side of the fence that says, ‘Well, it could cost kids opportunities. There's the other side of the fence that it could've been a total circus that would put so much pressure on these kids because you might have 50 camps in Atlanta or Dallas.

I'm selfish with my time. I'm away from my family enough, and I just did not want to go. I was ready to. We would've jumped in with the rest of them and gone to work. But I'm glad we can have a camp and I can sleep at home.

Media members and Jim Harbaugh jumped on Freeze's statements.

According to Saturday Down South, ESPN's Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg took issue with Freeze's comment. Apparently Mike Greenberg said:

Hugh Freeze's comment is enough to make you want to smash your head into a wall. One of the reasons he's happy that satellite camps are banned is as quote: "I'm selfish with my time. I'm away from my family enough that I just did not want to go. We would've jumped in with the rest of them and gone to work, but I'm glad we can have a camp and sleep at home."

Well thank God for that, Hugh. Thank God you and your millions of dollars can sleep in the huge house that you live in while these kids who cannot afford to get to all of these different places- cannot afford to go to Athens, Georgia to get to your camp- could previously have gone to one spot near where they lived and had the opportunity to work out in front of a whole lot of coaches. But thankfully you can sleep in your bed while those kids may not get a chance to get a college scholarship. I'm so relieved by that. I am so glad the NCAA took that into account when making these decisions.

Jim Harbaugh also issued a statement about Freeze's comment, saying

You've got a guy sitting in a big house, making $5 million a year, saying he does not want to sacrifice his time. That is not a kindred spirit to me. What most of these coaches are saying is they don't want to work harder. It seems to be outrage by the SEC and ACC. They power-brokered that out ... the image that comes to my mind is guys in a back room smoking cigars, doing what they perceive is best for them. It certainly isn't the best thing for the youngsters. It's not the best thing for the student-athletes.

So, let me just go ahead and throw this out there... Hugh Freeze's comment about his family was a big misstep. First off, he just shouldn't have made any comment at all. If he felt compelled to make a comment, he should have stuck to talking about the demands placed on recruits as this thing snow-balls out of control (he mentioned recruits feeling compelled to go to all 30 camps in Dallas, for instance). He should have talked about how a majority of conference thought it was bad enough to ban it, how their vote did nothing to lower the number of kids receiving scholarships to play college football (it didn't). He should not have talked about how tough his life is.

Freeze argues that Michigan isn't interested in helping out overlooked croots.

Wednesday morning, Freeze appeared on Mike and Mike in order to clear the air a bit. Mike Greenberg wasn't around, but Mike Golic asked several questions about how this would harm the kids.

His argument then hinged on there being enough evaluation of high school athletes already. There's validity to that. We do not live in an era in which tons of great football talent goes unnoticed. Freeze spoke of the ease with which video highlights can be recorded and shared now. He mentioned the huge swaths of time when colleges can send nine coaches on the road to attend high school practices and get in good evaluations. He also made the point that while everyone wants to talk about all the poor kids getting left out, Michigan is really only coming to town for one or two kids usually. It's not about the guy who's fighting hard to earn a scholarship anywhere to play college football. That guy isn't going to end up at Michigan.

This was the response Freeze needed to be making immediately. It was well-reasoned and effective. Mike Golic still wasn't convinced of anything, but Freeze's logic was sound. This rule will result in no fewer players getting scholarships. That's just not a byproduct of it at all.

But Freeze does have one problem with the ban.

Sports Illustrated spoke to Freeze in a follow-up, and his primary concern now appears to be the number of small schools this rule precludes from sending coaches to a camp at a large Power 5 program. Freeze sees merit in allowing these big programs that will attract a lot of recruits to serve as beacons for the smaller schools that don't have much of a recruiting budget to spend time with high schoolers who aren't good enough to play in the Power 5.

Freeze wants to find a way to change the rule so coaches from Group of Five schools can still work camps in conjunction with Power Five schools. "I would love to continue that," Freeze said Monday. "I just don't want satellite camps for the Power Five. I am for non-Power Five schools being able to attend and evaluate." Freeze agrees with the intention of the rule—just not the unintended consequences. He does not think his coaches should be able to work a camp in Houston, smack in the middle of Texas A&M's recruiting territory. He does, however, think South Alabama coaches should be allowed to work the Ole Miss camp.

On his Mike and Mike appearance, Freeze mentioned that he has been working with Urban Meyer to alleviate this issue. They are hopeful it will be remedied this summer.

Then Stanford's coach weighed in with a hot take.

In a bizarre turn of events, David Shaw felt the need to deride entire regions of the country by saying,

"I'm great with whatever college football says, because it doesn't affect us. It doesn't make sense for us to go hold a camp some place where there might be one person in the entire state that's eligible to get into Stanford."

Um... what? Just a little FYI: 20 of Stanford's 85 players (23 percent) are from the Southeast... which should theoretically be the group with the dumbest population. For some reason, a lot of people felt the need to defend Shaw. We'll just have to agree to disagree.

And it doesn't matter because this discussion is mostly dumb.

This just in: multi-million dollar industries make moves for the sake of their best interests. More at 11 as this story develops.