Few issues surrounding college football have generated more attention in the past several months than satellite camps. Some conferences, and coaches, are for them – most notably the Big Ten, and Michigan's Jim Harbaugh – and some conferences and coaches want them to be banned.
A “satellite camp,” if you're unaware, refers to a college football program hosting a high school camp in an off-campus location -- usually a far-flung off-campus location. Like, say, Florida, if you happen to be Harbaugh and Michigan.
The idea behind satellite camps is easy enough to understand: hold camps in talent-rich locations. Take the show on the road, so to speak, and go where the best players -- and prospects -- are instead of hoping they come to you.
But it's a practice that has created much debate, and nationwide division. The NCAA last month banned satellite camps, and then a few weeks later rescinded that ban so that satellite camps could be further evaluated.
In the ACC, though, there's no need for such time. The conference is against satellite camps, and it's safe to say that most, if not all, of the league's coaches reject the idea. Some are more against satellite camps than others.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has said that he'd never lead a satellite camp. Ditto for North Carolina coach Larry Fedora. At the ACC's spring meetings earlier this week, Fedora outlined his reasons for opposing satellite camps, and his argument against having them in college football.
The argument in favor of satellite camps is that they help high school players receive more exposure to college programs. At least that's what college coaches try to argue. In reality, satellite camps allow teams to come into talent-rich areas of other states and try to establish a recruiting base.
“Some people have grabbed it and run with it and are trying to use it to their own advantage,” Fedora said. “And so I don't think there are kids out there that if you don't have satellite camps aren't being seen. I don't think there's any truth to that. But that's what people have kind of run with.
“And so that's why the rule (banning satellite camps) was put on hold, so we'll see what happens.”
UNC's highest-profile camp, which it has dubbed the “Freak Show,” has been a recruiting success. Prospects who attended it last year raved about it, and some compared it favorably to some of the best camps they'd attended on any college campus.
One of the reasons for its success, though, is that it is in fact on campus. It allows prospects to see UNC's facilities, its highly-regarded campus and some of the surrounding area. Satellite camps, meanwhile, do little in the way of offering prospects a chance to become familiar with a campus.
That's likely part of the idea behind them for those coaches who favor satellite camps. A program like, say, Michigan, might seem more viable to prospects when Harbaugh is traveling to prospects as opposed to having prospects travel north.
At UNC, though, the campus and the relatively good weather – compared to schools in colder climates – is undoubtedly part of the pitch that Fedora and his staff make to recruits. So it's no wonder that Fedora, and other ACC coaches in similarly desirable locations, oppose satellite camps.
“I know that everybody says that the players are being exploited and they're not being able to be seen by other schools,” Fedora said. “” don't think that there's truth to that to be honest with you. I do think that we ought to stop satellite camps.
“I think the camps ought to be on our campuses and then if some other school would like to come work your camp and you want them to come and work it, that they ought to be able to do that so we're not restricting anybody from working somebody else's camp.”
At UNC, for instance, coaches from lower-division schools – FCS programs, and Division II programs – have often helped run the camps that Fedora and his staff host. It's a good opportunity for those coaches at smaller schools, and Fedora welcomes having those other coaches.
Beyond that, though, he's completely opposed to everything else about the idea of satellite camps.