The South is being invaded by the North again and folks ain’t too happy about it.
At the SEC meetings in Destin, a situation was addressed that has gotten the dander up of several SEC coaches. Penn State‘s decision to participate in satellite camps in Georgia and Florida is a hot-button issue that may force a rule change in the future. James Franklin, that savvy former Vanderbilt coach, has decided to bring the Nittany Lion brand down south to get a recruiting edge. Notre Dame is trying to follow suit and more northern schools may follow their lead. Conversely, SEC coaches cannot duplicate this elsewhere because there is an SEC rule prohibiting them from doing so.
No school can “run” a camp more than 50 miles from their campus, but the NCAA rule does not prohibit participation in the camp. Using this loophole, Penn State will “participate” in camps at Georgia State University and Stetson University this summer. Franklin’s idea is genius, as he will have access to players that otherwise may never know anything about Penn State. You better believe that Brian Kelly and Notre Dame will be selling their brand full-bore when they are able to join the fray.
The talent level in the south is undeniable and while many southern players do not stray above the Mason-Dixon Line with their college choices, this exposure could sway them to at least consider it. Big name schools with early playing time options or a history of putting players in the NFL can certainly make a player think twice. One big recruiting victory down south could begat many more and give these programs a foothold in the better high schools in places like Georgia or Florida.
The SEC appears to be behind the times on this issue. However, with the amount of television exposure and hype surrounding the league, you would have to live under a rock in Lithuania to not know about the SEC’s football prowess. If Mike Slive elected to end this pseudo-Volstead Act of recruiting, the appearance of SEC coaches at camps outside of their south is likely, but it would not be prevalent.
The league already recruits at a high level across the board with a proximity advantage to most of the best players in the country. I would guess that coaches would go to California, Ohio or Pennsylvania, but their focus would always remain at home. The SEC brand has already infiltrated the country and the SEC network will be on televisions across the country reinforcing that awareness.
Good for Franklin for thinking outside the box. It could pay dividends as he is a proven recruiter and knows how to connect with southern players from his days in Nashville. Making inroads in Georgia and Florida could be a huge step in taking Penn State back to prominence.