CLEMSON — It’s unlikely Clemson coaches are about to set up camp in Detroit, Cleveland or Philadelphia in search of the next great Tiger.
Clemson’s last five recruiting classes have included just one signee from a traditional Big Ten state: quarterback Cole Stoudt, from Dublin, Ohio — and he was born and raised in Greenville, so he’s not exactly a hardened Big Ten product.
The point is, when Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh plans a coast-to-coast tour of cities and Penn State’s James Franklin vows to siphon kids from the south to State College, ACC and SEC coaches will tend to react — at best raise an eyebrow, at worst panic — toward the Big Ten’s blossoming trend of planting satellite high school football camps in their own backyard.
Dabo Swinney, who has made a living off mining the rich recruiting fields of Georgia, Florida and Alabama along with in-state South Carolina products, isn’t so sure he likes the current system where certain conferences — cough, the Big Ten — are allowed to take their show on the road, whereas the ACC and SEC coaches are not.
“I’m against it. I think it’s a loophole people are taking advantage of, and it’s something that needs to be addressed,” Swinney said Wednesday on an ACC coaches teleconference. “It’s something that will probably come to a head one way or another.”
With other SEC coaches like Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn and Mark Richt joining the chorus against satellite camps, Harbaugh struck back via a note on his Twitter account Friday.
“As a collegial gesture we invite coaches from every college to be involved in our football camp. #Compete #ExposureU,” tweeted Harbaugh, who reportedly will host such camps from Pennsylvania, Tampa, Houston and California.
It’s unknown how many coaches will take up Harbaugh on the offer, but it’s unlikely many will be amused.
“If it continues, if they don’t restrict the satellite camps,” Louisville’s Bobby Petrino said, “then probably we need to be able to do what everybody else can do.
“The one thing I don’t like as much about camps as I used to: it used to be about bringing young men to camp and help them get better so they can be more productive in the fall. The purpose of camps has changed quite a bit; it’s more about recruiting.”
That’s exactly what bugs Swinney: is the intent to improve the skills of future college players, or conduct research on which prospects need firm offers or extra letters in the mail?
“Ultimately what happens is instead of having camps, you’re having combines,” Swinney said. “There’s enough of that.”
Each winter, Swinney trumpets his staff’s recruiting efforts largely on the selling point of getting prospects to visit Clemson and, over time, grow attached to the small-town, big-dreams vibe.
“My philosophy is we put a tremendous amount of emphasis on our camp here at Clemson,” Swinney said. “The best part of everything that we do from a recruiting standpoint, is our campus itself. We can go out on the road and recruit and evaluate, but we want to get guys here to Clemson because we know if they come, then we’ve got a good shot.”
With four straight top-15 Rivals classes on campus (including this past February’s No. 4-rated class), Clemson isn’t currently scuffling on National Signing Day.
“I don’t have a problem with it because it’s within the rules,” Swinney said, “but it really hasn’t been that much of an issue with us.”