Speaking on Sirius XM Radio Thursday, Smart did not hold back on his opinion of the transfer portal, which has seemingly created a new landscape in college football.
“I don’t know that it is right for college football,” Smart said. “It may be good on an individual basis. But when you give kids an easy way out sometimes, sometimes they take the path of least resistance. People can say ‘well, coach, you are free to go wherever you want to go,’ we also have a contract and they are free to fire us anytime they want. So they can fire us anytime they want as an assistant coach.”
You can deny renewing a scholarship to a kid, or simply letting him know he’s buried on the depth chart forever, anytime you want. At least your contract has a buyout provision. That student-athlete being tossed aside doesn’t even have that much.
“For a student-athlete, to say they should be able to go anywhere, I really believe if the kid graduates now, he should be able to go anywhere he wants to go,” Smart said. “I am even okay if the kid has been there three years because that probably means he has been there long enough realize I can or cannot play.
“But giving kids a way out when early on it’s tough, and the process is hard, that’s the biggest problem I have.”
Yeah, Smart at least is copacetic with graduate transfers (although you can cynically argue that’s because he’s been the beneficiary of those), so he’s not as rigid as others I could name. But to pretend transfers are generally wrong because as a coach you know better than the kid does about what’s best for him despite the obvious conflict of interest is just another way of saying “best interest of the kid” = coach’s control.
Let’s remember what “giving kids a way out” means here. If a student-athlete wants to leave a program, ultimately there’s nothing Smart or any other coach can do to prevent that. All that’s being debated here is how much information should be available to a potential transferee about places that would take him in and whether he should be immediately eligible for financial assistance if he moves. If you’re a coach objecting to that, well, there’s your real hard process.