One of Tom Herman’s first tasks as new head coach at Texas is to establish recruiting inroads in the regions surrounding the home base. According to an interesting piece by SI’s Pete Thamel, Herman has tried and failed three times to set up camps in Louisiana. While nobody involved with LSU football will expressly admit it, it’s pretty clear that they are pulling the strings.
This week, for example, Texas was supposed to participate in a satellite camp hosted by D3 Belhaven University. It was originally scheduled to be held in Baton Rouge, and then Hammand, La. Then, according to Thamel, this happened:
Belhaven’s camp—originally slated for BREC Memorial Stadium in Baton Rouge—appeared to be in danger early this week, as political pressure on a local high school coach threatened the stadium agreement. Belhaven coaches had linked up with Memorial Stadium officials, [Belhaven head coach Hal] Mumme said, and agreed to pay them $500 for the use of the stadium to host the camp. But Louisiana political forces managed to end that planned camp. After Mumme signed the initial deal, he got a call from an assistant superintendent in Baton Rouge, who invoked a loophole in the paperwork that forced Belhaven to move the camp from BREC Memorial Stadium.
Mumme, the former coach at Kentucky, confirmed to Sports Illustrated early Tuesday evening that Belhaven then signed an agreement to host the camp at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Hammond. The eleventh-hour change to Saint Thomas was welcomed because one of Mumme’s former players at Southeastern Louisiana, Hutch Gonzales, is the school’s head coach. But hours after that second agreement, school administrators in Hammond succumbed to pressure from LSU. Mumme said the canceled camp will cost cash-strapped Belhaven, which is located in Jackson, Miss., $5,000.
While this does block Texas from starting to establish footprints in the state, Mumme made the point that it also has the unintended consequence of blocking players who might not be talented enough to play at LSU from getting seen by other schools.
Ed Orgeron has generally denied responsibility for these camps getting canceled on his accord, but as Thamel noted, the LSU coach last month said, “Protecting the state of Louisiana is always going to be my job as the coach of LSU.”
These types of shenanigans seem like par for the course at the highest levels of college football, and it’s a fun added element of competition when you keep it in a vacuum between Texas and LSU. But, it does really suck for everybody else caught up as collateral damage.