“That has not always proven to be best for kids.”

Kirbs, at his disingenuous best:

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.

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39 Comments

Filed under Transfers Are For Coaches.

39 responses to ““That has not always proven to be best for kids.”

  1. Biggus Rickus

    Smart’s not necessarily wrong. Some kids will do more harm than good to their careers by transferring out when they feel slighted or whatever. Sure, he’s being self-serving to some extent, and kids should have the option to screw up by transferring whenever they like as far as I’m concerned. But his point is still a valid one.

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    • No argument that every case is different, but “self-serving to some extent“? C’mon, man.

      I’d feel better about defending his argument if every kid that came into a program had the chance to negotiate his arrangement just like Smart did when he signed his contract, but the playing field isn’t level from the start.

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      • Gurkha Dawg

        You are 100% correct Senator. 18 yo “kids”, who are legally adults, can get married, join the military, buy a house, but need daddy Kirby to make football decisions for them. Bullshit. I’m not saying players won’t screw up but at least it is their decision. Freedom sure is inconvenient sometimes.

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      • Biggus Rickus

        It’s not entirely self-serving is all I’m saying. There is a legitimate concern for the kid’s well-being in there.

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      • gastr1

        Sometimes kids need to be allowed to go, because what’s best for them is to learn that it isn’t going to be any easier anywhere else– another program, the real world, etc.

        If Smart were serious about what’s best for the kid versus what’s best for his own program, he’d be talking about letting them leave in order to sample some of that reality-based menu.

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        • I know coaches are going to be asked about the portal, ’cause the media’s gonna media, but, damn, just stick to saying “it’s something we just have to deal with” publicly and save the rationalizing for behind closed doors. We already know if you’re a coach, you don’t like seeing your players leave.

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  2. Granthams replacement

    The issue is immediate playing time. Players could always go to any school that would take them but playing time could be blocked. They opened Pandora’s box but getting rid of Fields was a good thing.

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  3. Any other student can leave a university and go wherever he or she wants without losing their financial aid or being able to pursue any cocurricular activity they please. It happens every semester across the country. Why a student-athlete shouldn’t have this ability once during 4 years of eligibility is irrational at best.

    Kirby, sorry, but you’re on the wrong side of the argument on this one. Don’t play the contract card … you and your assistants have a buyout. Your players don’t.

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    • Biggen

      Their buyout was sitting on the bench for a year. But we already bungled that up…

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      • Tony Barnfart

        Yes, all we’re debating / comparing is the fairness of two contractual restrictions. I think an adequate compromise would be to have the player not lose any eligibility regardless of whether he still has a redshirt year. .but still have to forego competition for one season.

        I don’t think it’s unscrupulous or disingenuous to have systemic protection in there for programs. If you ultimately guarantee a player no lost competitive eligibility, IMO, it’s not an unreasonable trade. All it does is make said player make a more deliberative evaluation of his needs and wants–if he really wants out, he can leave. I suppose he’s losing a year of youth in a sport that has a career timeline, but it’s still not directly affecting his pro prospects from a timing standpoint and any lost future earnings analysis is dubious at best.

        Asked another way: can we be certain that any coach with cold feelings or a wandering eye (whether from ambition or to avoid the chopping block) actually has an easier time convincing a future employer to pay a punitive penalty in addition to whatever salary he can bargain for ? I’d be inclined to say that’s harder than a decent player convincing a new coach to take him on in his 85. It’s not like we hear about all the coaching moves that DON’T happen because of buyouts, etc.

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        • All it does is make said player make a more deliberative evaluation of his needs and wants…

          Why is the burden on the student-athlete?

          If you want to debate fairness, how about letting student-athletes negotiate their deals with schools the same way coaches do?

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          • Tony Barnfart

            The burden for everyone to make their own best life decisions is always with the decision maker. We’re debating this much like a competitive restriction in an employment contract (yes, I know…). The former employee may also not like the “burden” of finding work in a new industry or 100 miles away for the next year, but the reasonableness of that burden is not evaluated with only an eye to the employee.

            I wouldn’t individualize every contract because it would raise the cost of doing business through the roof.

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            • I see. So decision making at the beginning of the relationship doesn’t have to be fair, just when the student-athlete seeks to do the same thing his fellow students are allowed to do.

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              • Tony Barnfart

                what do you mean by same thing ?

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              • Tony Barnfart

                nevermind….I see you mean general students.

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              • Tony Barnfart

                My first thought would be a line from the movie The Program: “When was the last time you saw 75,000 people show up to do a G__D___ chemistry experiment ?”

                If you say then that means they should be paid, maybe so. But that’s a different debate.

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                • So, you’re now arguing that because these kids have commercial value, that’s a reason for putting the burden on them? Interesting.

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                  • Tony Barnfart

                    The burden we’re talking about here is actually a more liberal alternative than the current ones imposed upon the player (assuming we’re not in permanent waiver land). What is the problem with the original merits of what I said ? My proposal is designed to strike a better balance between choice for the student-athlete while also protecting what is inarguably an operation valued in the 100s of millions of dollars. I don’t dispute that this is a commercial enterprise.

                    Again, why do you think a modified restriction of sitting but never losing eligibility is STILL too burdensome ?

                    I suppose you want to turn the debate on the issue of the fairness of the restriction turning on whether they are being compensated or not. That is a different debate. Just because we know UGA football is hypothetically valued in the 100s of millions of dollars doesn’t mean either one of us knows what the INDIVIDUAL commercial value of a certain player is.

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                    • If you’re asking me what my idea of a fair compromise is, I’d let every undergraduate kid have one free bite at the transfer apple — one move, no strings attached, but only one. If they graduate, then they’re entitled to another.

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                    • Tony Barnfart

                      But how many players who ever transfer do so more than once ? Thus, it’s not a prohibitive restriction with any real teeth when the timeline of finding your right fit is 5 years under the longest of interpretations.

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                    • I see no reason to punish a kid who wants to transfer.

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  4. Hobnail_Boot

    “At least your contract has a buyout provision. That student-athlete being tossed aside doesn’t even have that much.“

    Correct me if I’m wrong (certainly possible) but my understanding is that if a player is taken off of the 85-man roster for any reason, he is still allowed to remain on full academic scholarship provides that his grades are in order. I recall during my undergrad days a former player who was in a few of my classes who fit that criteria. Injuries maligned him.

    I’m not arguing that it’s the same as a coaching contract replete with buyout clause but under the current system that seems to be the players’ comp.

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    • Correct me if I’m wrong (certainly possible) but my understanding is that if a player is taken off of the 85-man roster for any reason, he is still allowed to remain on full academic scholarship provides that his grades are in order.

      I thought that was only the case if the scholarship was a four-year commitment. If it’s year-to-year, different.

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    • Your classmate was likely a medical disqualification, so he could keep his scholarship and not count against the limit. That’s very different from being Processed where you’re told at the end of the academic year to move along because your scholarship slot is going to someone else.

      USCw offered Jarvis Jones a medical disqualification after his freshman year (neck injury if I remember correctly). He got a 2nd opinion and left for UGA as a regular transfer.

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  5. Derek

    “I suppose I’m fine with freedom, but it doesn’t mean people make good decisions with it.”

    That’s all I’m seeing here. Nothing profound or controversial.

    I’m not ready to write fields off over a bad spring game, but if he does implode that is exactly what Kirby has on his mind. Did we do best by the kid by giving him an easy out? It’s one thing to demand closing the portal up and another to be concerned about its effect.

    Coaches probably aren’t the best at articulating that nuance.

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  6. Bulldog Joe

    Near the end of this season, there’s a better-than-even chance Kirby will be shopping that portal for a quarterback.

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    • Otto

      If that is the rules, you have to play by the rules you’re given rather than the rules you want, especially in a career as results oriented as his.

      I am in the camp that both sides have a point and we can’t rely on the bureaucrats to figure it out. If a kid wants to transfer let him without limiting schools, but he has to sit out a year. When was the last time someone gained credit hours by transferring, or if you choose the wrong career path it often creates extra hurdles?

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    • AlphaDawg

      Silly question. Is Stetson able to take a redshirt this year?

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  7. Just because what he’s saying is consistent with his own self interest doesn’t mean he’s wrong. I agree completely that the culture writ large is obsessed with immediate gratification. His sentiment is correct: probably, more times than not, character is developed by sticking it out, and playing time will be the reward. Kids generally hate the process of building character, though, and will avoid it if they can. It’s probably better for the kid and better for the program to let that process play out. It’s impossible to look past the fact that that kind of thinking also benefits the coach. But there’s another angle with the coach, beside the fact that they can leave any time they want. It is also true that they can be fired anytime the administration wants. Most administrations are not willing to stick it out with a coach, either. From the administration’s perspective, by and large, “win now” is the goal. Ultimately, I guess, the fairest thing is to hold the kids to the same standards the grown-ups hold themselves to.

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    • gastr1

      It doesn’t mean he’s wrong. It means he has an agenda and that his actual words are bullshit.

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    • Gurkha Dawg

      It’s the players decision if he wants to stick it out or not. It doesn’t matter if sticking it out builds character. ( I agree it does). These are grown men, not 12 year olds.

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      • Tony Barnfart

        But what if there’s a middle ground created that says (a) you still sit a year of competition but (b) you lose zero eligibility, regardless of whether you still have your redshirt.

        So if you redshirt and then play second string for an additional 2 years when you think you’re the better player, you can then transfer and preserve those additional 2 years of eligibility, but only after you sit ? The natural evaluation then becomes: (1) who is ahead of me and how old are they ? and (2) do I really want to do 6 years of college even though I can ? But maybe I won’t do 6 years, perhaps the guy ahead of me is a Senior (so I should stay)…..or maybe I go because I know the depth chart over there will be WIDE OPEN after my year in absentia and I could probably get drafter after my 1 year of competition at school 2 (after my 5th fall in college).

        Sounds to me a lot better than…….”yeah, I fuckin’ handed the ball off great” in your 2nd game as a true freshman as enough introspection.

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  8. W Cobb Dawg

    “…we also have a contract and they are free to fire us anytime they want.”

    Coaches are normally fired for performance issues. Players can lose schollies based on grades. You’re splitting hairs, Coach.

    Kirby would be better served by sending these questions higher up the food chain, since he ain’t the guy making the rules.

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    • Biggen

      I’m not sure about football, but I know with baseball, those were (at least a few years ago) year to year scholarships. And they could be pulled if you weren’t performing like the coach expects. So if you didn’t work out during the offseason and showed up out of shape, good bye scholarship.

      I’m ok with that type of scholarship offer. A four year schollie is akin to tenure.

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    • Tony Barnfart

      You mean if you fail out of school, you can’t play on the school’s football team ? (gasp)

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