If you are in an ultra-successful conference (e.g. the ACC in Phelan), where you are routinely getting close to $50K a season in bonus money, it lends itself to strategically not recruit against your conference mates. Not as collusion, but because of the leverage factor.
a.) You know you won't have any real financial leverage against a fellow team in your conference that also has $50K bonus money, and likely significant carry-over. So getting into a battle would be extremely costly.
b.) You have the financial resources to go outside your natural geographic area and beat out all the other Big 6 conferences that are only getting $20K in bonus money.
At that point it just doesn't make economic sense to pick a battle in-conference, when you know you can go out and get (almost) your pick of players from elsewhere. I'm overstating that a bit, but you get the point.
I, coaching at Michigan St., frequently battle in-conference. Take a look at the map. East Lansing is smack dab in the middle of Big 10 territory with nothing but water and Canada to the north. With the exception of tiny pieces of Kentucky, New York and West Virginia, the vast whole of my 360-mile radius is in-conference territory. If I'm going to recruit locally, I really have no choice but to battle conference mates. That said, I will lean towards non-conference targets when there are viable gettable options available. And I also try not to pick on the same coach multiple times in a given time-frame. So those things do get some real consideration, but if push comes to shove and I really need/want a player, I'm still going to do what's best for my team.
5/1/2013 7:56 PM (edited)