Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mutually self-interested

Alabama football coach Nick Saban says this "isn't about" Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, says he doesn't care what Harbaugh thinks or tweets, says Harbaugh can go you-know-what up a long rope as far as he's concerned.

OK, OK. So he didn't actually say that last part.

The rest he did say, though, in this highly entertaining mini-spat between the two coaches over satellite camps -- aka, "opportunities to recruit without actually recruiting, thereby dodging the rules governing same." In other words, they're as unregulated as the AAU basketball swamp, and just as fertile ground for the sort of scuzzy back-room shenanigans that give the lie to the NCAA's claim it runs a clean show here, pure in thought and word and deed.

That, of course, is ridiculous. But you know what else is ridiculous?

Saban and Harbaugh both claiming this is all about the kids, albeit from opposite sides of the fence.

Harbaugh champions satellite camps, he says, because it gives more kids more opportunities to be seen, and therefore more opportunities to land a scholly. Saban decries them, he says, because he thinks their lack of regulation makes them a breeding ground for unscrupulous street agents and corner-cutting programs to exploit those same kids.

They may both be right. But that's not what this is about for either of them.

This is about self-interest pure and simple, and don't kid yourself that it isn't. Harbaugh likes the camps because it gives him entrée into the deep southern talent pool Alabama and other SEC schools have long regarded as a private fiefdom. And Saban dislikes them for the same reason.

In other words, this is about money: Bowl money, gate money, money to build ever-larger facilities to grow the gate money. Because college football at the level of the SEC and Big Ten isn't about dear old Whatsamatta U. It's about Where Can We Get Some, Too.

Big shocker there.       

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