After going 0-12 in his first season, Trent Miles has elevated Georgia State’s fledgling football program to such heights that he has managed to irritate SEC coaches and become a major player on the national recruiting circuit.
“It’s funny that anybody’s complaining about this,” Miles said Thursday. “It’s not like this hasn’t been done before – it just hasn’t affected the SEC before. Now all of a sudden a big-name school is coming to a mid-major school like us and they’re like, ‘Oh, wait a minute. We can’t have that.’”
Miles is hosting eight football camps for rising ninth-to-12th graders in June. In most circumstances, this would be so insignificant to the dark lords of the SEC coaching fraternity that nobody would bother looking up from their smoking coconut drinks in Destin, Fla., at the SEC’s spring meetings.
But there’s a disruption in the force. James Franklin, the Penn State coach by way of Vanderbilt, will be a “guest coach” for two sessions of Miles’ camp on June 10.
It was Franklin’s idea. He phoned Miles several months ago.
“A brilliant idea,” Miles said.
He did realize Franklin’s ulterior motive was recruiting, didn’t he?
“Really? I thought he just wanted to come to my camp,” Miles said. And then he laughed.
Franklin also will drop in at Stetson University’s camp on June 11 in DeLand, Fla. That’s an hour and a half from Gator country. You see where this is going?
An NCAA rule prevents college coaches from hosting camps out of state more than 50 miles from their campuses. But nothing prevents a coach from being a guest at somebody else’s camp.
Problem: The SEC has a rule that prevents its coaches from doing what Franklin is doing. It’s their attempt to keep some semblance of order. (I can’t believe I typed that.) But Franklin isn’t in the SEC any more, he’s in the Big Ten. SEC coaches want the NCAA to close that loophole. Good luck with that.
Georgia coach Mark Richt will be interested to learn that Miles also have Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff to his camp in 2015. It turns out that Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock is a long-time friend and godfather to Miles’ oldest daughter.
Miles said there is no financial arrangement between the schools. But he Penn State and Notre Dame get the benefit of exposing their program to a fertile recruiting area in the South and — with the draw of Franklin and Kelly — Miles gets face time with high school players who normally might not visit Georgia State.
“Some kids won’t be able to go to Penn State and Notre Dame,” he said. “And some who do, maybe things won’t work out for them and in two years they’ll remember us and come back.”
And what of SEC coaches squawking?
“That’s their problem. It doesn’t really affect me,” Miles said.
“There’s more pressing needs for the NCAA to worry about than this. This is an instructional camp to help kids get better.”
The whines from SEC coaches drip with irony.
College football coaches generally color outside the lines, particularly in recruiting. No group exemplifies that more than SEC coaches. When they aren’t working in the gray areas of the rule book, they’re looking for new gray areas.
This is the SEC.
Early recruiting mailings.
Female recruiting hostesses.
Sorry. Had something stuck in my throat.
Richt didn’t seem overly concerned Tuesday when asked about Franklin’s presence in Atlanta. “We’re blessed that people come to our camps,” he said. “They’re recruiting our guys, anyway. It’s only an hour to Athens. So it’s not a problem for me.”
By Wednesday, his tone seemed to change, and he said, “The spirit of that rule was not to have satellite camps all over the place. What I’m seeing is a loophole in that if another school sponsors the camp: ‘Georgia State camp, featuring Penn State coaches’ or some Division II school in Texas camp, featuring Oklahoma’s or Oklahoma State’s or Texas’ coaches, and just kind of barnstorming all around the place. … It’s basically people finding a way around that rule.”
“I think Mark Richt’s a wonderful person and a great coach. That’s all I have to say about that. You know what I mean?”
Miles is right: The NCAA has more pressing issues – like antitrust lawsuits, players threatening to unionize and the roof caving in.
There’s a reason the NCAA’s rule is in place. It doesn’t want Nick Saban hosting a camp in Athens, or Richt in Gainesville, or Steve Spurrier in Knoxville (although that would be funny).
If the NCAA doesn’t close the loophole, Richt said, major conference coaches will start scrambling to gain a recruiting edge by attending smaller college camps throughout the summer.
“Some of us would like to have a little sanity in our lives,” he said. “Just imagine: if you go to (a proposed) signing date Aug. 1 and then you do every satellite camp and you jump all summer long in a caravan doing camps, it’s going to make everybody crazy.”
Here’s what he left out: SEC coaches want to protect their recruiting territories.
With conferences expanding and geographic footprints overlapping, SEC coaches might as well drop their rule. I don’t see the NCAA acting on this, nor do non-SEC coaches care about the SEC’s problem.
Even SEC commissioner Mike Slive said, “It’s that kind of thing that gets us to think about our rules.”
If there’s one thing the SEC doesn’t like, it’s somebody else setting the agenda.
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