MIRAMAR BEACH, Florida -- Alabama coach Nick Saban made one thing crystal clear Tuesday at the SEC spring meetings: He is not a fan of satellite camps.
"It's bad for college football," Saban said.
After initially saying he would not discuss satellite camps, Saban went off in a five-minute rant that would have made Howard Beale proud, comparing the satellite camps to "the wild, wild West."
The SEC had banned its coaches from participating in satellite camps, and the NCAA followed with a satellite-camp ban. However, in April the NCAA overturned the ban and ruled that satellite camps would be allowed.
Saban blasted satellite camps because they incorporate third parties into recruiting and there aren't any guidelines.
"This is the wild, wild West at its best. There have been no specific guidelines relative to how we're managing control of this stuff."Alabama coach Nick Saban on satellite camps
"Until this satellite camp issue came up, you still had to go to the high school, go through the coach, and players came to your camp if they were interested in learning," Saban said. "By doing what we're doing now, we're doing what we do in every other sport that we're complaining about every day -- AAU basketball and all this.
"Anybody can have a camp now. If they have a prospect, they can have a camp. Then you're expected to go to that camp and they can use you to promote their camp because Ohio State is coming, Alabama is coming, whoever else is coming.
"Someone sponsors the camp, they pay them the money. What do they do with the money? And who makes sure the kid paid to go to camp?
"This is the wild, wild West at its best. There have been no specific guidelines relative to how we're managing control of this stuff. It's happening outside the normal evaluation window, which means we're taking time away from our players. We have to worry about our players doing the right things with the limited time we have them, but we're not going to do that because we have to be somewhere else to see someone else."
Saban has never been a fan of satellite camps, characterizing them as "ridiculous."
"All the people that say this is creating opportunities for kids, this is all about recruiting," Saban said. "That's what it's about.
"Why should we be promoting anybody else's camp anywhere? All we're doing is allowing all these other people that we spend all of our time at the NCAA saying you can't recruit through a third-party person, and that's exactly what you're doing.
"Creating all these third parties. And who gets exposed on that? I go to a camp and talk to some guy I don't know from Adam's house cat, and he's representing some kid cause he's putting a camp on, and then I'm in trouble for talking to this guy."
Florida coach Jim McElwain has a unique perspective because 10 of the SEC's other 13 schools participate in satellite camps in the Sunshine State.
McElwain obviously would prefer that other schools didn't recruit in Florida, but he knows that's not realistic.
"They should come [to Florida]," McElwain said. "It's as good of [high school] football as there is in the country."
Saban also questioned who keeps track of whether players paid for the camps and what, if any, compliance people are involved.
Saban has the opposite viewpoint on satellite camps as Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who has embraced them like no other coach.
"I'm not blaming Jim Harbaugh," Saban said. "I'm saying it's bad for college football. Harbaugh can do whatever he wants to do if he thinks that's what's best. There needs to be somebody who looks out for what's best for the game, not the SEC or the Big Ten or Jim Harbaugh. But what's best for the game of college football. The integrity of the game.
"The coaches, players and people who play it. That's bigger than all this. Now who does that? Now because we have the Power 5, everyone is doing what they want. There needs to be a [college football] commissioner."
Saban was asked whom he would want as commissioner.
"I don't have a candidate," Saban said. "I'm not into politics."
Among other topics Saban touched upon Tuesday, he said he would like to see underclassmen who leave school early have the option of returning after testing their prospects for the NFL draft, similar to what happens in college basketball.
Under current NCAA rules, once underclassmen declare for the NFL draft, they lose their remaining eligibility.
Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema believe a combine for underclassmen could help solve the problem. It would be similar to pro days for juniors and seniors and would allow NFL scouts to better evaluate those players.
"If you ask the NFL, 'How can we maintain trust with our players when you're giving us inaccurate information?' their response is, 'We don't know enough about the guys to really give you the information, because all we can really go on is film evaluation,'" Saban said at the SEC annual meetings. "That's why we have a combine and all these other things. We want accurate information when that's all said and done in December."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.