I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the amount of angst that cropped up in the comments following my post about Jeff Sentell’s interview with Aubrey Solomon’s mother. It’s hard to let go of a gauzy, romantic image that you’re invested in, and for many, the ideal of a football program that doesn’t stoop to making business decisions when it comes to roster management is a powerful one. (As powerful as the ideal that student-athletes are already more than fairly compensated for the privilege of playing. But I digress.)
Anyway, whatever else one might say about the Process, romantic it ain’t. Kirby is being paid to win. In his mind that includes pushing roster management aggressively. The issues with Carter and Blankenship arose because Smart was at the edge, numbers-wise, with the 2017 class before the four underclassmen stepped up to announce they were staying. That decision — and would any of us have preferred that they leave for the NFL? — meant that Smart had to do a lot of re-jiggering on the fly.
I’m not defending the way the Carter situation was handled. Smart botched that by not stepping up and telling the kid himself. But he’s being paid to put together the best roster he can and that’s what he’s trying to do.
Let’s not forget that one big reason Mark Richt is no longer gracing Athens with his presence was due to his lax roster management. Fielding a team with less than 70 scholarship athletes is no way to go through SEC life, son. That’s not a mistake Smart wants to repeat, or even be in the vicinity of repeating.
You can argue there’s a happy medium between the two, but it’s a lot harder to implement that in real life than it is to argue about it. Just ask the coaches at the two other programs that Solomon was interested in at the end, who’ve done more than their share of cutting off commits when it suits their roster management goals.
Speaking of which, before some of you lionize momma for speaking truth to power, remember that Solomon committed early on to Michigan, way before Carter and Blankenship were points of contention. And if getting an explanation from Smart about the way he handled those situations were as important as she told Sentell it was, she sure had a funny way of going about getting that.
As someone wiser than me suggested, sometimes when a kid signs with a place a long way from home, it’s as much about getting away from something as it is the destination. If so, there wasn’t much Smart could have done about that. Not that such is going to matter much to the romantics among us.