“… and he’s hiding behind some fine print…”

Barrett Sallee thinks there’s a simple explanation for why Nick Saban is stonewalling Maurice Smith.  He’s skeered.

The threat of Georgia becoming a power is the underlying theme in the ongoing Smith saga.

After I stopped chuckling, I was gonna respond, but instead I think I’ll outsource the retort to Finebaum, of all people.

The more the media keeps this up, the harder it’s going to be for Saban to stonewall.


Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules

44 responses to ““… and he’s hiding behind some fine print…”

  1. Jared S.

    I don’t buy that Saban is scared. I just think he’s a control freak. And he doesn’t want to hemorrhage players by creating a precedent for his players getting to go wherever they want. Because he doesn’t have to …. it’s an SEC rule, not Saban’s rule. And he doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks.

    • PTC DAWG

      So Missouri is OK and UGA is not? Dude doesn’t want Kirby to get ANY thing over on him.

      • Jared S.

        I agree with you totally. But Saban not wanting Kirby to obtain any benefit at Alabama’s expense is not the same thing as Saban being “scared.” My point is that I don’t think Saban is afraid of anyone. Why should he be? He’s got his program locked down and under his control more than any other coach in the nation.

        My argument is that what we’re seeing is actually an evidence of the fact that Saban isn’t scared at all of what anyone else does or thinks. Not the opposite, as has been suggested by Sallee.

      • Bulldog Joe

        Missouri has won 2 of the last 3 SEC East titles and returns an elite defense this season while Georgia has won nothing and is starting over.

        The Coke bottle makes no sense.

        • Missouri has a new head coach, too.

        • Macallanlover

          Yes, they are obviously a big time program, and UGA, “who has won nothing” is a relative cupcake.. Good Lord man, is that really the depth of your thinking? And that elite defense just lost two key cogs this week. Naturally, Little Nicky lacks your insight into how dangerous Mizzou is, I am sure he would just hate for them to show up in Atlanta every time he wins the West. Got it, marvelous thinking.

        • Did you watch that Missouri offense last year? They made Vandy look competent.

    • MGW

      Alabama’s in a unique position where they have so much high end talent that you’ve got guys who could start anywhere playing backup roles as upperclassmen. I get not wanting to set a precedent that you can either finally start and star as a senior/red shirt junior, or if that doesn’t work out go transfer wherever you want. Because unlike most schools, Bama’s got a lot more guys who fit into that category, not to mention the fact that they’ve had that risk of losing their scholarship dangled over their heads the whole time they’ve been in school so who can blame them for not feeling bad for leaving once they get to the point Smith’s at.

      I get it… but its wrong. You’ve got more talent than you can get on the field; boo hoo! Nobody feels bad for you but you and Bama fans.

  2. Comin' Down The Track

    When you’ve lost F-baum…

  3. Argondawg

    Does anyone else feel like maybe Kirby is sitting back with a little grin on his face? He agreed to take a player that has created an ugly controversy for his mentor with no downside for Kirby. I am sure getting Smith for a year would be nice but if you are playing the long game, every chink in the armor counts. Optics matter. Or maybe I don’t know shit.

    • Prosticutor

      Absolutely right. (1)This makes Coach Kirby looks like the good guy here, (2) Those armor chinks will definitely help down the road, and (3) One day a kid may ask Kirby about a transfer to ‘bama, and Coach will practically be justified when he smiles and says “maybe you should consider Missouri.”

    • Jared S.

      As far as “optics” go, in the eyes of future recruits I don’t think either Saban or Smart gain any advantage over the other regarding how they’ve treated transfer requests this year.

      • MGW

        If they were going to care about this, they would have cared about the whole grey-shirting/one year scholarship think a while back. I just don’t think they pay any attention to this stuff whatsoever outside of a few recruits per year. Look at Bama’s roster: this isn’t the first time Saban’s made the news for some policies that completely crap on the student athlete, and they’re doing just fine.

        • Jared S.

          Exactly. Like I said, I don’t think this situation gives any program over another program in the eyes of recruits.

  4. dawgtired

    I love that F-baum brought up Saban’s comments condemning others for wanting to punish kids while he only wanted to help them. Apparently he doesn’t want to help ALL of them…just the ones that will contribute to his team. Saban would have looked so much better if he’d just let Smith walk. Kirby won this little PR battle without firing a shot. Sometimes you only need let the opponent have rope to hang himself.

  5. Jared S.

    Senator, I’ve got to say, I don’t understand why you think it is becoming “harder….for Saban to stonewall” as the media keeps the drumbeat up about how unfair he is being. He’s within the rules. And I can certainly understand his apparent motive of not wanting to set a precedent allowing graduate transfers to Georgia for his players to play for Smart.

    Are you just noting that the whole situation is likely becoming uncomfortable for Saban? Or do you actually expect him to cave and allow Smith to transfer to UGA this year?

    • All I can analogize to are similar situations at other institutions where coaches and ADs tried to dig in but eventually caved due to public pressure.

      • simpl_matter

        One doesn’t have to look too far…

      • Jared S.

        I see. I don’t see Saban caving, but you have a better read on these things.

      • Mayor

        Saban is different. He is unfireable and likely to be retiring soon anyway. Plus he has the SEC rule as cover and the institutional backing of Bama. He has been yanking scholarships away from kids for years and never had any recruiting problems come from that. The program at Bama will not lose a single recruit over this and he knows it. I do NOT see him caving.

        • You may be right. But I didn’t see him caving on Taylor and look how that turned out.

          What Saban has working for him is time. Smith doesn’t have much, if he wants to contribute at Georgia this season.

          On the other hand, the PR move nobody’s thinking about is Smith walking on at Georgia and paying his way. Were that to happen, can you imagine how much shit would get thrown Saban’s way all season?

    • Hogbody Spradlin

      On the one hand Jared, foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, so Alabama is entitled to make different judgments between this situation and the Missouri transfer. On the other hand the shabby reasons they’ve given so far for different judgment, coupled with the bum’s rush treatment they gave the player, justifies all the mocking and ridicule we can dish out, and them some.

      • Jared S.

        Believe me. I agree with you that Bama should be shamed for their treatment of Smith. I just don’t think Saban feels shame. The only way this backfires on Saban is if the family makes it a personal crusade and this somehow leads to a change in the SEC rule.

  6. Eli

    Needs a year at GA so his degree might mean something.

  7. Big Shock

    Didn’t Kirby put Miami on his banned transfer list because he didn’t want unhappy former Richt players following their old coach to south FL. I imagine that Saban is essentially doing the same thing. Most of these guys are enrolled in summer school and if they really want to, they can finish in enough time to become graduate transfers. Don’t want to have a precedent for other players to eventually reunite with Kirby.

    However, the rule is terrible. A kid gets a degree and can get into grad school, he should be a free agent . What a crazy idea…letting the student athlete leverage the same system that coaches and administrators leverage to line their own pockets. Wonder what would happen to this rule if more players had the resources to fight the system, like the Manzel family was able to do? The NCAA and the major conferences are doing their best to kill the golden goose.

  8. Go Dawgs!


    I’m sure Nick Saban is terrified of Georgia. So scared that I’m sure he can quote the won-loss record of his former lieutenants in games against him.

  9. Cojones

    But wouldn’t this be a novel way to get good players every year from other schools and especially ‘Bama? The early-to-school athletes would have remaining playing time and they could enroll after they graduate early.

    What I don’t get, however, is how a school has a hold over anyone who has a degree and can march off to any school they please. If another school has a grad program that they like, what’s to prevent them from going (besides the SEC threat that they would have to sit out a year in between) to any graduate program in the land, and, while a student there, can join the team of his/her choice immediately? Are you telling me that a school has a hold on that athlete’s life program even after they graduate? Please tell me it ain’t so.

    “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” said the Moses of the East to the Alabamian Pharaoh as he headed for the bullshit rushes from the Al press..

    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Athlete graduates can go anywhere they want to continue their education. OTOH The conference member schools agreed by mutual consent that athletes cannot play sports at another school w/o consent. Outside of the conference, no restrictions. The Bama kid coulda gone FSU or Clempson.

      • Cojones

        He had already been looking at Baylor (Closer to home) and could have transferred, but his parents seem to be discerning about the whole mess and didn’t like what went on there.

        Seth Emerson also has taken up my question specifically, but with the same answer that I had. Oh, well, we can still poke the Tuscaloosa bear.

  10. South FL Dawg

    When you’ve lost Finebaum at Alabama, you’ve lost the press I think. Hollow victory for the student involved perhaps, but overall the ties on student athletes are dying a death by thousands of small cuts.

  11. Jeremiah Horne

    I guess I see it differently. Alabama has a lot invested in this player. I don’t see anything unfair about making sure a guy you trained and educated doesn’t go give the return on the investment to the competition. I thought it was always nice and high road of Richt to let them go wherever, but I wouldn’t. It’s a free country and of course the kid should be able to leave – but I think it’s a fair deal to tell them no SEC.

    • 92 grad

      Your argument does have merit and I can see both sides. Problem is, this isn’t the reasoning that Alabama is hanging it’s hat on. Seems too easy to me, just explain the man hours and funding that have gone into this young mans football training and then claim they own a right to not have this training compete against them in the immediate future.

  12. The Dawg abides

    Bingo. The main reason for this whole issue is Saban being so detail-obsessed that he won’t take the chance, however slight, of Alabama facing Georgia in the conference championship game and Smith making even one play against him.

  13. Squatchdawg

    I hate to play the devils advocate here as I don’t know enough about how these scholarships work…but if the kid earned a 4 yr degree by going to summer classes (which isn’t free) doesn’t he also owe 4 yrs to the football team for the scholarship? The fact that he finished early by taking advantage of the ability to front load his 4 yr degree shouldn’t release him from his obligation. Especially since he actually too advantage of it.

    If Saban said “okay, you can go wherever but you owe the University the equivalent tuition, books, room and board that you incurred for that extra year”. Would this be acceptable?

    I don’t know the details of this case but theoretically what is the problem with my argument?

    • DoubleDawg1318

      That might hold weight if scholarships were 4 year arrangements but they are actually only good for one year at a time. Therefore, there’s no obligation to stay there for 4 years. And besides, Saban has “processed” so many kids out of there before their 4 years are up that it really can’t be said that anyone owes Saban loyalty.

      • Squatchdawg

        But they can’t just pull your scholly without a reason right – even if some coaches abuse every loophole to process players. I don’t agree with Saban – just trying to be objective as the whole player vs college thing continues to build steam.

        Would we be as cool about it if Murray had asked to transfer to AL his senior year for his graduate work?

        I’ve always thought they should be a 4 yr commitment regardless of injury or playing time….as long as you met some minimum academic requirements. This would make it a much more equitable situation. I have a friend who had a scholarship as a pitcher and lost it when he tore up his shoulder. Family couldn’t afford tuition and he never graduated. Shit deal IMO.

        • Debby Balcer

          They can pull it after year with no issues.

        • We may not have been cool about it, but Murray would have earned the right by graduating with eligibility remaining.

          By the way, I think they should be 5-year commitments because rarely does a student-athlete graduate in 4 years now.

  14. Something doesn’t smell right about the Smith situation.

    Seems odd to me that he went through the fight for a possible starting spot — and likely earned it — and then he hits the door right before the season. Maybe he thought that was best timing-wise since Saban would be under pressure to let him go. Dunno.

    There’s likely more to this story than we know. It’s likely that all along Smith and his parents thought that he should be playing more, or whatever, and they chaffed a bit and finally had enough.

    Saban certainly has to set a precedent for fighting transfers to UGA. Smart recruited a lot of these kids and preventing a stampede is a big deal. But that’s just for a year or so. This will blow over as time moves by. Kirby may or may not dethrone Saban, but it won’t be over transfers.

    Have a good day,


    • BD, don’t you think this is a different situation with a kid who has met his academic commitment? My take is that this more about the SEC’s rule than it is about Saban not allowing a stampede of talent to head to Athens. I get it that he doesn’t want a bunch of sophomores who Kirby recruited to leave, but this is about a young man who has graduated.

      • Mayor

        Big Shock put his finger on the real potential problem Saban faces in his post above. Most of the best players nowadays enroll early. If red-shirted they could go through 4 years of school and coaching and end up with 1 year of eligibility left. If they become disgruntled before their 4th season of eligibility it would be a simple thing to attend summer school and take enough hours to graduate making them candidates for the graduate transfer rule. Given that Kirby was at Bama just last year and all the Bama players know him (and presumably like him) you could see a mass defection if not this season certainly over the course of the next couple of seasons. Saban is nipping the problem in the bud. IMHO that is the raison d’etre for the SEC transfer rule barring graduate transfers within the conference–to keep mass defections from happening from one SEC school to another because of a coaching change. A popular assistant becomes the HC at a rival school–or even the HC moves to a rival school (remember Tuberville moving from Ole Miss to Auburn?)–and taking all the red-shirt seniors with him.

        • Mayor

          P.S. That is exactly why Kirby won’t sign waivers letting players transfer to Miami–he’s afraid of CMR poaching the Georgia roster. Not exactly the same as the graduate transfer thing but the principle is the same.

        • I guess for me it’s the principle. If scholarships weren’t annually renewable, I would get it, but given that a scholarship isn’t a guarantee, if the player graduates, he has met the requirement of the scholarship. The coach should have to re-recruit the player to convince him to stay rather than hide behind a stupid rule that only serves the institution rather than the interest of the S-A. Just my $.02.