Nevada’s Brian Polian sees satellite-camp ban reversal as win for fringe Power 5 programs

After the NCAA banned satellite camps earlier this month, Nevada coach Brian Polian conducted a study on his own program’s recruiting. The 41-year-old Polian, who had been a top recruiter as an assistant at Notre Dame and Stanford, was not happy about the ban and wanted to have facts about how much it would hurt programs like his and also hurt the kids they were recruiting.

Polian found that his program had signed 18 players in the past three years that it had identified at a satellite camp or by being able to work at a Power 5 camp — things that would’ve gone away due to the ban.

"That’s a lotta dudes," Polian told FOX Sports Thursday after the news that the NCAA had rescinded the ban.

"This is not a little thing. This is a big thing. The biggest win is for the prospects."

Much of the satellite camp saga has been shaped around Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and his penchant for riling up SEC coaches and fans, but the reality is this reversal will have a lot more impact on coaches and players involved in fringe Power 5 programs and mid-majors. Programs like Polian’s.

Pat Fitzgerald

"The biggest thing for us is to be able to go to USC’s camp; the one at Cal and also (Northwestern coach) Pat Fitzgerald’s Chicagoland Showcase. And I can imagine this is big for all those MAC schools that can go to Ohio State’s camp."

A big part of Nevada, and many other Mountain West programs’, recruiting plan, for instance, is coming to work USC’s Rising Stars Camp, where hundreds of football prospects around Southern California show up dreaming of landing a scholarship offer from the Trojans, but also know that they’ll have a chance to get an MWC or a Big Sky offer if the USC one doesn’t come. The exposure that kids get to other camps becomes like a de facto job fair for many of them, especially since a lot of them can’t afford to travel to showcase their talent for these other coaches on their own campuses.

At Fitzgerald’s Chicagoland Showcase, there are 320 total coaches working the camp and 105 colleges are represented, 13 of them are FBS programs. In 2014, 156 of the student-athletes in attendance earned college scholarships of the 1,628 that participated.

A big part of Nevada’s and many other Mountain West programs’ recruiting plan, for instance, is coming to work USC’s Rising Stars Camp, where hundreds of football prospects around Southern California show up dreaming of landing a scholarship offer from the Trojans, but also know that they’ll have a chance to get an MWC offer or a Big Sky Conference if the USC one doesn’t come. The exposure that kids get to other camps becomes like a de facto job fair for many of them, especially since a lot of them can’t afford to travel to showcase their talent for these other coaches on their own campuses.

For the visiting mid-major college coaches, it’s a crucial piece, Polian says, because of the measurables they can factor into their scouting.

I think this was the right thing to do now.

Biran Polian

Staffs spend hours evaluating prospects on film, but getting a chance to eyeball someone in person to see how big they are, how fast they are, what their frame looks like, how hard they compete and respond to coaching, can — and has — green-lighted many scholarship offers. Polian, the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame GM Bill Polian, has proof of that. As he said there’s 18 guys on scholarship at his place because of that. And some of those 18 might not have receiver any FBS scholarship opportunity without the camp exposure.

"I think this was the right thing to do now," Polian said about rescinding the ban. "Until there is a comprehensive plan in place that addresses everyone’s needs, all the colleges needs, and the kids’ needs."

Those needs and the objections of those colleges in favor of banning satellite camps were tied to trying to get a grasp of the ever-escalating recruiting calendar and giving college staff a small break in the summer. Polian acknowledges those are valid concerns. He said he likes that there is a two-week NCAA Dead Period in July, but would prefer it moves to three weeks, "so everyone can take a deep breath."

"I think we are gonna lose really good assistant coaches to the NFL, where you know your vacation is your vacation and you can actually have some time to be with your family."