i think people, by nature, try to reach a certain "peaceful coexistence" with nearby coaches - in conference and out. we all are pretty aware that major battles can have a tsunami effect on your whole class, and generally, try to limit our major battles to the end, when we have a solid group already on the books. coaches often state this as a gentelemans rule in conference, but i really dont think its limited to conference. coaches mention all the time how they look at their really big neighbors (regardless of if they are a big fish or a medium fish themselves), and try to guess who they might want, or at least look at how big man needs and guard needs stack up to big men and guards generated in the area. if you watch pairs of big schools, the % of time they get in on a recruit in the first cycle, its really low, its way lower (in general) than you would expect from a random assignment of top teams to top recruits. i take that two ways. either 1) everyone is cheating and im too naive to realize it, or more likely, 2) over time, the big dogs get a feel for who they can go for without getting in a major battle (which is directly related to who the other big dogs go for), and try to go for those guys, consistently.
i think that effect is why there are a lot fewer battles to start recruiting than i would expect, mathematically, and i know i do it all the time. further, i dont just try to avoid gruesome battles with conference mates. ill take a battle over a guy far away over a battle with Duke a hundred miles north, any day of the week (unless the coach at Duke poached me recently, then i have to go with Duke). i mean, i poach at the end of recruiting like most other coaches, but i try to do so in a manner that doesnt kill me later. im not poaching the same guy over and over, or really kicking someone when they are down. ill usually try to poach a guy from someone who already has a decent class, who KNOWS they over extended and sort of half to blame themselves. or ill poach an international, so the other coach, if offended, has a lessened ability to pay me back.
anyway, i really think all of this type of stuff is fine, as long as nobody is doing it via explicit agreement. i think people get hurt when they THINK they have an implicit peaceful agreement with certain coaches, say, a conference mate, and they get jumped. its normal, but i think people often go overboard with it. its one thing to hope another coach gives you the courtesy of trying to avoid battling you, but its an irrational leap to expect a battle will never happen. i dont think its fair to get upset at a conference mate for battling you, no matter how long you avoided battling them for.