ACC coaches reluctantly move forward with satellite camps

Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Clemson's Dabo Swinney are among the ACC coaches who expressed reservations about satellite camps. Said Swinney: "It's just bad. There's a lot of unintended consequences people don't think about." USA TODAY Sports

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- ACC coaches are not exactly thrilled with the whole satellite camp idea, considering they have been firmly against it over the past several years.

But now that the league is allowing its coaches to work satellite camps for the first time, many feel the need to participate simply to keep pace with everyone else. Among the 14 ACC schools, only Clemson, Duke and North Carolina won’t attend satellite camps. Miami coach Mark Richt remains undecided. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher plans to do something, but is evaluating what would benefit his program the most. Other coaches are only participating in a few so they can limit travel for their assistants during what is usually considered down time.

"It’s bad for the game: third parties, it’s AAU, it lessens the credibility of the high school coach," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "It’s just bad. There’s a lot of unintended consequences people don’t think about. Regardless of whether the rule had gone one way or the other, it wasn’t going to affect us. I need them to come to Clemson. And if it’s not convenient enough for a young man to be able to visit Clemson, he’s not coming for four years. I can go and do a satellite camp and practice coaching all I want, but I’d rather be more efficient with my time."

Last month, the ACC proposed NCAA legislation that would have mirrored its own rules on satellite camps: coaches could not work or attend camps outside a 50-mile radius from campus. That rule passed, but was rescinded several weeks later after a national outcry from many coaches who claimed opportunities for players to get recruited would be limited. Many also were upset the rule shut out Group of 5 coaches from participating in highly valuable camps, where they had an opportunity to evaluate talent.

Once the rule was rescinded, the ACC dropped its own restrictions on satellite camps. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has been the biggest rabble-rouser, participating in camps in the South (eliciting outcry from many in the SEC) while also calling out Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze for not wanting to "sacrifice his time" to see players at camps.

"You don’t think it’s family time, you’re crazy," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Guys don’t understand this business if they’re making judgments on that."

Fisher said he has gotten calls from across the country, inquiring about whether he or his assistants want to work camps, but he is evaluating what would work best for his program. Texas, for example, might be a state that fits because the Seminoles have recruited with success in the area.

"Do I think it’s crazy? Yes I do," Fisher said. "But at the same time, you have to be able to get players and do what you have to do to be in the process of evaluating players and coaching players and doing all that. Make no mistake about it: it’s about opportunities in recruiting. You’re coaching them, but that’s what it all gets down to. That’s the facts of life. They don’t want to say that, that’s not true."

When the satellite camp ban was rescinded, the Division I Council called for further study on the issue. Several ACC coaches gave their ideal scenario for satellite camps once this cycle ends. NC State coach Dave Doeren, who has two camps scheduled in Florida and Georgia, believes Group of 5 coaches should be allowed to work their camps, but Power 5 coaches should not be allowed to attend any outside their campus. Fisher agrees.

"We got into a quagmire and we encompassed all things in one thing," Fisher said. "My opinion is do away with satellite camps and let all those other guys to come to your camps. Go back and have some common sense."

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall worries about the impact of third parties, and believes the number of camps a school can attend should be limited.

"I would keep the number of spring evaluation days the same and camp days and then basically if you wanted to use one of those for a satellite camp, maybe limit them to three opportunities or one in each 15-day segment, and I think that would be enough," Mendenhall said. "Ideally, I would love for the high school coaches to have the predominant influence on where their kids are going and how they’re being treated, and I like the elimination of the third parties whenever possible. I’d love the ownership to go back to high school coaches and their programs. It seems we’re shifting a little bit from that.

"I think we’ll be in a different place a year from now than we are right now."