Georgia, to its credit, is pushing a rule at this week’s SEC meetings to allow student-athletes who have completed their undergraduate degree to transfer within the conference. It would seem obvious that Kirby Smart, who clearly benefited by such a transfer when Nick Saban relented and allowed Maurice Smith to play for Georgia last season, would be in favor of formalizing such a change, but if Gus Malzahn is to be believed, that may not be the case.
While Smart has publicly shared that viewpoint in the past, that wasn’t the vibe Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn got in the football meeting room.
“I think it was unanimous within our coaches that we weren’t for intraconference transferring,” Malzahn said. “I think we got a good room. I think that could complicate things.”
Maybe Gus is just presuming there, and Kirby didn’t speak of the matter after the coaches’ meeting, so it’s hard to know if there’s been a legitimate change of heart on Smart’s part. If he has switched sides, though, that makes it a little awkward, given McGarity is leading the charge for the new rule. Not to mention a little convenient, given that Maurice Smith has moved on.
The one thing I don’t get about this debate is this particular fear enunciated by Mark Fox:
“What guys are leery of is that we don’t want to create free agency, where guys are in the handshake line being recruited by the other team,” Fox said. “That’s what you don’t want. You’re shaking hands after the game and you don’t want guys trying to poach your roster. That’s probably the No. 1 concern.”
If you’re really worried about poaching, why not create a rule that punishes a head coach for doing just that? And before you say who’s going to file such a complaint with the league office, let’s recognize that the stated rationale here for not allowing the current transfer rule to change is because these coaches don’t trust each other to play fair. If you’re a coach and that’s what you believe, yet you’re reluctant to police the practice, why is it fairer to restrict the choice of student-athletes who have lived up to their responsibilities for four years?
Um… those were rhetorical questions. We all know why.