Sometimes you can’t always get what you want in college football. That doesn’t stop you, though, if you’re a coach or program official in the SEC — when the plan all along was to get what you need.
That was evident at Friday’s NCAA Division I council meeting, which produced the immediate shutdown of satellite camps, as proposed by the the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conferences. While the focus has been on how the “bricks of the foundation” in college football have kept the wolf in Ann Arbor from blowing their house down, it’s also important to note that the NCAA has also opened the door for a whole new ream of problems in the sport.
The following fact is uglier than any camp held out of state in the sun: The governing powers of college football don’t see the value in providing a new recruiting tool (satellite camps) that could benefit future players who might not otherwise see the field. Yet, these same power-holders believe that coming as close as possible to giving coaches and their staffs the ability to send an unlimited number of text messages to a potential recruit is a positive growth tool for the future of the athletes that make collegiate athletics great. In football, cross country, track and field, and swimming and diving, electronic communication between athletic programs and recruits will be deregulated.
Remember, college football fans: It’s all about the players.
In one meeting, the NCAA Division I council sent the message that if a head coach is a guest instructor at another summer camp, he’s intruding on another program’s territory. In fact, coaches are not allowed to hold their own camps outside a 50-mile radius of their campus.
Yet, in that same meeting, the council determined that it’s okay for a head coach, assistant coach, grad assistant, or what most likely will be an intern, to turn on their phone at random times during the day and night to bombard 16-to-18-year-old recruits with text messages.
These messages are inconsistent… except for the fact that they both create situations which are problematic for aspiring collegiate athletes.
On Friday, Matt Zemek wrote at The Student Section about how dismissing satellite camps made various coaches around the country happy, because holding these camps would lead to too much work.
These same coaches and programs have been getting in as many finger exercises as possible, hoping to push through changes for them to get their name — or in this case, emojis — to as many recruits as possible, in as many ways as possible.
It’s all part of an attempt to leave no recruit unturned.
Meanwhile the NCAA still hides behind the silly mantra that its job is to protect the student athlete… which inevitably means that it is okay with collegiate coaches and program officials sending athletes 20 text messages as they try to make it through the 5th period of senior English.
Is the NCAA backbone not upright because of the money and power of the programs that are trying to maintain any possible edge to land a potential recruit? Whether that means an athlete is going to maintain major playing time, or will be kept off the other side of the playing field for future competition, is unclear. What this pair of decisions clearly does, however, is that it gives programs a tool that will only help them to do anything to out-recruit another power program for any level of player.
Before this week, we already lived in a crazy social media world, one where a James Franklin graphic saying “No Talent Required” broke the internet. This is a world where head coaches and potential recruits are already confused about how far they should go when discussing real life interactions with each other. It’s a world where real-life situations like the resignation of Tyler Summitt from Louisiana Tech’s women’s basketball program turn into a live taping of the Maury Povich Show.
It’s clear that the NCAA is comfortable with deregulating communication in the social media age — a Wild Wild West that already lacks nearly any memory, structured rules, or consequences. It’s not because they feel that one more “open line of communication” will make the student athlete’s experience that much better. It’s not just the powers that be, aligning with the “signs of the times.”
Whether it was the handling of camps or text communications, the sole purpose of this afternoon was for the NCAA to give more power to the programs that keep feeding the pig.
If we’re not able to acknowledge that truth and see it for what it is, we’re not being honest with ourselves about the power centers in college athletics, and why they do what they do.