“This is unnecessary, and I think it’s unfair.”

Kevin Scarbinsky wades into the Maurice Smith affair and finds — surprise! — it’s not so clear cut as to how badly Alabama has behaved.

The latest development was a contentious meeting Tuesday between Smith, his parents and Alabama coach Nick Saban. Smith’s mother, Samyra, described it to me as “a knock-down drag-out.”

Samyra Smith said she believes Saban and Alabama are doing their best to force her son to stay and play one more season for the Crimson Tide, even though the idea of forcing a disgruntled player to stick around seems counterproductive. Smith will not report for fall camp Thursday, his mom said, and will not play for Alabama this season.

She said Saban told the family Tuesday he had “penciled in” her son as a starter. She said her son responded to the coach, “Pencils have erasers.”

Alabama declined an opportunity to comment Wednesday, but it’s clear the school disagrees with Samyra Smith’s contention that it’s been stalling to keep her son on the roster.

One example: Alabama already had renewed Smith’s scholarship for the upcoming year, and there’s no stated NCAA process to rescind such a renewal. But Alabama did work with the SEC and the NCAA to rescind the renewal, which was necessary to allow Smith to meet the transfer requirements. That process was finalized within the last week, which helps open the door for Smith to transfer to any school outside the SEC.

I don’t want to say this is about two egos, because I honestly don’t think Saban operates that way.  But it’s clearly devolved into a test of wills, which is something I doubt Nick Saban is used to experiencing with one of his players.

At its most basic level, transfer policy is about coach control.  That’s what we’re seeing here.  With this showdown, Saban is managing his roster the way Saban’s always managed his roster.  Smith has some leverage as a graduate, but only so much.  (And time is working against him, if coming to Georgia is his goal.)

So while I don’t think this is anything personal on Saban’s part, it’s clear that someone on Alabama’s staff has taken the coach’s hunkering down on Smith’s transfer as a green light to behave like a complete ass.  The irony is, presuming the media heat continues to be dialed up, that this may wind up being the lever that sets Smith free to pursue the move of his preference.  And if that happens, I’d hate to be the guy responsible for that.

9 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules

9 responses to ““This is unnecessary, and I think it’s unfair.”

  1. Erskine

    If a student athlete is not enrolled for classes, not sure how a scholarship is binding. And if that is the case then there will b a 2-3 week wait until Al starts classes for any type release

  2. DawgPhan

    I hate that the coaches and schools have this much control over the students. Especially students that have completed their degree.

    These guys should have much more freedom to move and hopefully one day soon they will get it. Or at least get the opportunity to negotiate on the terms of their restrictions.

  3. HVL Dawg

    The trash detail will be the death of the rule for the whole league.

    We are entering a golden era for college football players- too bad, for entirely different reasons, it’s all going to collapse.

  4. Bright Idea

    Saban more worried about a perceived loss of control than where Smith plays ball next. He has made his mark playing hardball with the blessing of the university and he’s not interested in changing now. He knows he is judged on winning games and while surrendering on Smith won’t cost him a game setting the precedent might.

  5. ASEF

    Smith is a projected starter, and he hasn’t graduated yet. I hate seeing transfer rules bind kids who are buried on a roster somewhere and aren’t going to play – but if ever the transfer rule had merit, it’s to give a coach some leverage over a projected starter walking out on a school and coaching staff that has been developing him for 3 years.

    Smith is going to get his clearance from the SEC. Saban will have made his point. As the Senator noted a week ago, the process here is going to put Smith and Georgia on the hook to actually make academic progress in his graduate program.

    The rest of it is just dog-days-of-summer-what-the-hell-else-do-we-have-to-talk-about.

    I do appreciate the irony of Saban being raked over the coals in August for trying to force a player to stay rather than finding said player a new home somewhere else.

    • I just appreciate Saban being raked over the coals … You haven’t seen any of the sports media really go after him for his NFL-style roster management techniques.

      He could never survive the daily media pressure cooker that is the Atlanta media market. Hell, he couldn’t even take it in Miami with a crappy NFL team with a proud tradition.

  6. I will ranked this transfer fiasco as #3 preseason news behind #1. Will Chubb be a starter and #2. Will Eason be the starter vs UNC.

  7. GATA 72

    Smith needs to get enrolled in athens asap and then let the battle play out in the media

  8. Macallanlover

    You can bet your sweet ass that the media member who will ask Little Nicky about this will NOT be Paul F*Bomb! But Satan is getting raked over the coals from alI have read and heard, his position is just indefensible.

    If a player has graduated, he would seem to be free from all past encumbrances from both Bama, and the SEC. As a “free man” he should be able to enter any school of his choice and use whatever eligibility he has remaining, per NCAA rules. He would have a strong case against both Bama and the SEC if they don’t back off, and would probably be the Curt Flood of NCAA athletes as the courts seem certain to back the SAs. I don’t think the SEC, or NCAA, want to see this hit the courts, much more is at risk than just graduate student transfers. Bama should check their ego at the door and back off of this, both the player, and his family, seem to be willing to fight this one to the end.