Saban seeks 'level playing field' on satellite camps

The Detroit News

It was Nick Saban's turn on the third day of Southeastern Conference media days on Wednesday.

But, the first question asked of Alabama's coach wasn't about the Crimson Tide's spot in last season's inaugural College Football Playoff, or about defending the SEC title, or about the players they lost to the NFL, or about even about in-state rival Auburn.

It was about Jim Harbaugh, and satellite camps.

After his opening comments, Saban was asked about Michigan's new coach and his use of satellite camps, something that didn't go over well with SEC coaches when Harbaugh and the university first announced the camps.

Harbaugh's satellite camps, dubbed the "Summer Swarm Tour," covered eight states, including one in Prattville, Alabama. Coaches in the SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference are not allowed to hold such camps.

Saban, the former Michigan State coach, was asked Wednesday, "In a conference that has the ultimate recruiting tool, a 24-hour-a-day network and revenue sharing of more than $31 billion a year, how come you and the other SEC coaches got really upset about satellite camps and Jim Harbaugh, as far as did you all feel threatened as far as recruiting, and what was the reaction to that?"

Saban's response: It wasn't a big deal, but it's not right, he said.

"I just think that I wasn't all that upset about it," Saban said. "I don't agree with it. I think that we have a recruiting calendar that clearly establishes times when you can be off campus to recruit. That's not a time where you can be off campus to recruit. So we do not feel in our league that it's a time we should be off campus to recruit. So if other people are going to be allowed to do things, then I think it's important that we all have a level playing field.

"So whatever the decision is about satellite camps, whether I'm for it or against it or the league's for it or against it, I'm more for having the same rules govern the entire Power Five conferences because we're not just playing in our league now, we're playing in a playoff at the end of the season. So the people that play in that playoff should all do it with equal ability to recruit, be it on or off campus or whatever it is.

"I think in the NFL they do a really good job of everybody has a level playing field, and I think that's the same way that we should sort of try to operate in college football."