Earlier this week, a story from Sports Illustrated made the rounds on the internet insinuating LSU played a role in having a pair of satellite camps scheduled in Baton Rouge and Hammond cancelled in effort to stave off recruiting efforts of the University of Texas. Previous camps at Louisiana College and Southeastern Louisiana were also cancelled for similar reasons. Naturally, everyone remained calm and collected and provided insightful and reasonable opinions on the matter.
I’m not going to bother linking to the source, who has a questionable, at best, track record. But the larger story here is yet another accusation of LSU politicking behind the scenes to prevent another blue blood program from setting up satellite camps in state (previously Michigan canceled a camp at Tulane). Let’s take a look at some of what’s in play here.
Ed Orgeron, Recruiting Sensei
Short of Nick Saban, who sits on a throne of infinite recruiting resources, Orgeron is college football’s reigning recruiting king. His reputation for winning recruits extends well over three decades all across America, unmatched by any other coach. Orgeron returned to LSU largely because of his ability to go out and win recruits like Arden Key, who may well be the SEC’s best player in 2017. Now that he’s taken over the role of head coach, he’s made solemn promises to “protect the state of Louisiana.”
Recruiting is a dirty game. Over at the mothership, Steven Godfrey wonderfully detailed the complex money-passing, car-sharing, get-your-mom-a-job-planning schemes that fuel the billion dollar machine that is college football. Just a state over Ole Miss is going down swinging against the NCAA for a encyclopedia’s worth of impermissible benefits.
All of this is to say that Orgeron knows well how to play the game. He mastered that long ago. Do I think Orgeron played a role in keeping Michigan and Texas out of Louisiana? Of course I do. This is a man that will seek to gain every possible recruiting advantage possible. Applying a little local pressure to the benefit of LSU hardly moves the needle.
What About the Kids, Man?
Hal Mumme, the head coach of Belhaven University, the hosts of the camp, immediately took to the “but what about the kids?” line of argument. Many others, too, have argued that LSU is “taking away opportunities for kids to get exposure.” The arguments aren’t terribly compelling.
First of all, satellite camps are a relatively new invention, so it’s not as if LSU is suddenly putting a stoppage to an age old recruiting custom. Even the most earnest of these critics admit it’s not about the kids that will go to LSU and Texas so much as the “lower ranked kids that could go to places like Belhaven.” If that’s your rationale, then why is Texas’ presence needed at all? Follow the green.
Even accepting that satellite camps are now part of the recruiting infrastructure, they are purely the opportunity for coaches from major programs to get face-time with prospects in an NCAA-approved manner. Texas wants to camp in Louisiana to start to forge relationships with recruits and expand their own program. Just as LSU will attempt to do the same.
Mike Roach, the father of University of Texas DE Malcolm Roach, and head coach at Madison Prep in Baton Rouge, says LSU’s vigilance to protect Louisiana has hurt kids that aren’t talented enough to wind up at SEC powers, yet three of his players, wound up at Texas, Oklahoma and Houston but never had LSU offers. I’m failing to see the lack of opportunity for 2 players that wound up at college football blue bloods and another that’s arrived at one of the fastest rising programs in college football right now?
I thought @BlatantHomerism captured this perfectly:
concern trolling vs. provincialism - a time-honored college football tradition— Allen Kenney (@BlatantHomerism) June 14, 2017
If I could not make this at all anymore clear, then yes, I am stating I think this is a bullshit rationale. You don’t care about the loss of opportunity for some kid that could possibly be exposed to a Division III liberal arts Christian college in Mississippi. You don’t think LSU denied any recruit any potential opportunity at all. You are mad because your favorite football program can’t setup a glorified sales expo in Louisiana’s capitol.
LSU, Satellite Camp Champions
Let’s not obscure the real story here: LSU remains undefeated in fending off invaders from their home territory.