Trespassing on SEC lawn
There’s a sign on a house not too far from me, says “Trespassers will be shot. Those who live will be shot again.”
If a college football conference had such a sign nailed into a tree sitting outside its main offices, it’d be the SEC.
In another round of “who you know rather than what you know,” SEC territory is being invaded by northern schools now, specifically Penn State and Notre Dame, who are using connections to get in front of recruits in territories they otherwise wouldn’t be able to gain as much footing.
And the SEC is mad, not because it didn’t think of this idea first, but because they can’t really flip it around and game the system.
Penn State and now Notre Dame, as most know, will be “guests” of Trent Miles, Georgia State coach, who has ties to both programs and has no problem having them hop along to one of the GSU football camps.
Call it the Recruiting War of Northern Aggression.
It’s a brilliant maneuver by the PSU and ND coaching staffs, because recruiting out of region, even when you’re a national brand like those two, is always an uphill climb. There aren’t many kids in northern Georgia who probably always dreamed of growing up and playing at Penn State above anyone else as opposed to, say, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, or the rest of the SEC haunts.
Mark Stoops of Kentucky was vocally critical.
And not surprisingly, so was the top Dawg in Athens to the Associated Press.
“There have been a lot of schools doing that for years,” Georgia football coach Mark Richt said Wednesday during SEC spring meetings. “The spirit of that (NCAA) rule is not to have satellite camps all over the place.”
You’ve got to side with guys like Franklin on this one. This isn’t anything really new, but it’s probably getting more pub now because of the schools doing it and where it’s going on.
And the SEC can’t simply take the stance of, “do it to us, we’ll do it to you!” Alabama or LSU isn’t exactly going to hold a satellite camp at, say, West Virginia or Indiana. The gap between the talent pool in certain southern states, Texas, and California is wide when compared to the rest of the nation.
But closing off this idea wouldn’t be good either. If the goal is for college athletes to make the best decision for their lives … remember, most of these guys aren’t playing professional sports and will actually need to use that education they get … ostensibly trying to close off state borders goes against that otherwise ethereal ideal.
It’s fairly obvious why the SEC is cheesed off. It’s the recruiting equivalent of your fraternity partnering with the cutest sorority (Chi Omega, we’ll just use for reference) on campus since forever and then all of the sudden one of the other ones decides to host an 80’s party and since there are mutual friends with those Chi O’s, they start putting on events together, starting with that one.
But this is the necessary step based on the success of others. See what’s making Group X succeed, duplicate it. As the gap widens in where the high school football talent is, it’s hard for other schools not to notice the glut of it from the south.
“Why is the SEC winning so much (other than network biases, which relate more to rankings than actual on-field results?)” The players they have. Where do they get those players? From Area X. So let’s find a way to get into Area X to get those players.
Hopefully, the SEC will be unsuccessful in closing off these events from happening. It’s good for the student-athlete, and just as companies cannot monopolize in the business world, so too should that be the case in the college football world. If student athletes choose to still not go to Penn State or Notre Dame and instead go to Georgia or LSU, so be it.
But that won’t happen. And everyone knows it. Trespassers may be shot again, but for right now, the chamber is empty, and more and more schools will be finding ways to walk onto the front lawn.