If this report is true, Nick Saban’s troll game is masterful, to say the least.
Category Archives: Nick Saban Rules
There’s always something.
- Kirby Smart thinks Georgia’s receivers are going to have to contribute by committee, which is code for saying he doesn’t have a real go-to guy in the bunch.
- The Seilers are looking at taking steps to strengthen the Uga breed.
- Of all the things mentioned in this piece about how to beat Alabama, Step 5 seems the most relevant.
- USA Today looks at some metrics to rank the conferences.
- Gus picks Sean White to start at quarterback.
- Tim Beckman, North Carolina hardly knew ‘ye… which I think is the school chancellor’s point.
- Bill Connelly ranks all D-1 teams by returning production. For all the offseason talk about North Carolina returning a bunch of starters and Georgia having significant holes in its roster, the Dawgs rank significantly higher than do the Heels.
You may have heard that another highly-rated defensive back just left the Alabama program.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Kendall Sheffield is transferring from Alabama.
Sheffield, a five-star prospect in the class of 2015, became a topic of conversation early in the week after he did not attend Crimson Tide practices Monday and Tuesday.
A Sheffield family member told ESPN that Sheffield was informed on Wednesday by Alabama football coach Nick Saban that he would receive his release from the school. The release has the stipulation that Sheffield cannot transfer to another SEC school.
Sheffield, the nation’s No. 3-ranked cornerback in 2015, has returned to his family home in the Houston area. He was running second team at cornerback prior to his decision to transfer.
Naturally, this has generated a great deal of introspection amongst the Tide faithful about what Saban might have done to lead to the rash of departures… okay, I keed, I keed. Over at Roll Bama Roll, the lede is “Another CB prospect from Texas sulks over the depth chart.”
Meanwhile, Michael Casagrande has a piece that claims to make sense about the kids leaving the program. And surprise — it’s not you, Nick, it’s those damned youngsters.
What’s behind that? Each transfer is unique while still fitting into a shifting culture among athletes one year after leaving high school. Barton Simmons, the director of scouting at 247Sports, said the proliferation of transfers among players while in high school is a factor.
“It becomes much more less taboo, much more of a standard operating procedure,” Simmons said. “I think that’s been a steady evolution towards this. But I think that’s just a challenge that a school like Alabama has to face on an annual basis due to the fact that they recruit at such a high level.”
Yeah, cry me a river… except Saban’s been recruiting at the same high level for years, but it’s 2016 that’s off the chart in the departures department, as even Casagrande acknowledges:
A total of 26 Alabama signees from the classes of 2010-16 have transferred before exhausting their eligibility. The 2015 class’s five departures already equals the 2013 group’s total three years later.[Emphasis added.]
The funny thing here is the dog that’s not barking. Nobody’s mentioned the change at defensive coordinator. Think Jeremy Pruitt might have had an effect here? If you’re not sure, you might want to check out Georgia’s 2013 recruiting class, peeps. The man has a way with kids he didn’t recruit. He’ll also do just fine with the kids he does pull in. It was, um… gratifying to watch him work the recruiting trail hard while he was in Athens.
When Alabama relented and gave Maurice Smith his unconditional release, there was a pretty common sentiment that the reason it did so was because the the fix was in — that Nick Saban knew the SEC wouldn’t grant a waiver for Smith to attend Georgia. It turned out that was wrong.
But there’s more to this story than that. It wasn’t simply that the SEC granted the waiver, albeit conditionally. It’s that Greg Sankey went out of his way to criticize the very conference rule that Saban supported.
Sankey did acknowledge it’s time for a healthy discussion about this subject beyond Maurice Smith, particularly SEC Bylaw 220.127.116.11, which prohibits transferring within the league and playing right away barring a successful waiver request. In the commissioner’s words, “The current rule places our coaches and administrators in untenable situations so it is time for us to address graduate transfer rules.”
Granted, that statement came after some weasel words about the need to be careful with graduate transfers (why?) and praise for Alabama’s stance, but when you boil it down, untenable is untenable. Sankey recognized that Maurice Smith was the perfect storm to challenge an unfair rule and had little choice but to do what he did.
“The five conferences wanted autonomy to make these [type of] decisions,” SEC commissioner Sankey told me. “We’ve just been stuck in the morass of Division I governance process and don’t have an output. Part of what I’m observing is we’ve got to do something.”
It starts with getting rid of the silly year-in-residence rule for graduating players who, like Smith, desire to transfer within the conference. I spoke to two FBS commissioners Friday who told me their conferences would at least have to consider getting rid of similar grad transfer rules.
Sankey was not of them, but the architect of Friday’s ruling suggested he is already tiring of ruling case-by-case. In other words, Smith’s case was not the first one he has dealt with, just the some prominent.
“No, I don’t [look forward] to doing this on an ad hoc basis,” Sankey said.
Think about it: This whole thing blew up over an academically-motivated kid from Sugar Land, Texas, who was second in special teams tackles last season for Alabama.
In a world where conference commissioners issue mealy-mouthed proclamations about student-athletes’ concerns, the optics of preventing someone with a degree from transferring are terrible. Sankey doesn’t want to defend the indefensible. Perhaps that will indeed lead to a change in the SEC’s rule, which would be a welcome development.
But that may not be the biggest thing about what just happened. Because it’s hard to look at how this went down and not think that Greg Sankey hung Nick Saban out to dry.
The SEC owes Nick Saban a favor. Had someone in the conference office told the Alabama coach that the league would let recent Alabama grad—and former Crimson Tide defensive back—Maurice Smith transfer to Georgia and play immediately, Saban probably would have released Smith immediately instead of getting painted as a villain for weeks.
The SEC announced on Friday afternoon that Smith would be granted a waiver to a league rule that would allow him to play immediately. This is the correct decision, because the rule is a bad one in the first place. But the decision came at the wrong time. Instead of letting its most successful coach get blasted as being anti-athlete news cycle after news cycle, someone at the SEC should have stepped in much earlier in this process.
This never had to become a national debate. Had someone at the SEC told Saban earlier this month that Smith would get the waiver, then Saban—who is nothing if not pragmatic—probably would have simply released Smith and saved himself the negative headlines. He stuck up for the league’s rule, but the league didn’t. Had Saban known the SEC would cave, he probably would have released Smith weeks ago.
I think Staples is right about that, except for the favor-owing part. Saban made a self-serving decision and righteously cloaked himself in the conference rule. He misread the situation in that Sankey was placed in a spot where he had little choice but to take his own talk about student-athlete support seriously. (Saban also didn’t help himself with the Black and Pappanastos transfers.)
Still, Sankey could have simply granted Smith’s waiver and left things at that. Instead, with his call to revise the graduate transfer rules, he’s indicated his intent to move the conference in a direction that will undercut head coaches’ control of their players, something that for most is not a desired result. And Nick Saban is the catalyst for that.
I don’t think anyone saw that coming, least of all Nick Saban.
It seems Nick Saban doesn’t have time for fighting Maurice Smith going to Georgia.
The University of Alabama athletic department has granted a full release to defensive back Maurice Smith, sources have confirmed to The Tuscaloosa News.
Smith, who graduated from Alabama last Saturday, can contact any school including those within the SEC about a potential transfer with the release. The status of any possible transfer within the conference would depend on approval of a waiver by the Southeastern Conference office.
Head coach Nick Saban indicated at his Wednesday press conference that the Smith transfer, a topic of much discussion in recent weeks, was now out of his hands, although he gave no specifics.
“We have done everything that we can do institutionally to allow the conference to make the decision about whatever they decide is in the best interest of the conference and the SEC rules relative to Maurice Smith,” Saban said. “So that is past us now. It is beyond us. We don’t really need to talk about that anymore and I don’t have any other comments to make about it. We’re trying to focus on the guys we have here and what we need to do to help those guys have a chance to be successful.”
Translation: it’s your problem now, Greg Sankey.
The conference might as well change the rule, if even Saban can be worn down by battling a kid’s family in the press.
… can America be far behind? (Or at least the SEC.)
UPDATE: Relax, Nick. Bert’s got your back.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said Wednesday that he is opposed to players transferring from one SEC school to another, and clarified that his opinion applies to graduate transfers.
His rationale is… well, a little paranoid.
Bielema said one reason he’s opposed to transfers within the SEC is that there are some things you don’t want other conference schools to know about the inner-workings of your program.
His opinion extends to graduate transfers, he said, because these days, those players are graduating with two years of eligibility left.
I guess that explains his love for non-compete clauses in his assistants’ contracts.
Of course, the ironic thing here is that in Maurice Smith’s case, Georgia’s coaches probably know more about the inner workings of Alabama’s program than Smith does.
Maurice Smith’s brother chimes in with some Saban disappointment. Nick probably doesn’t have time for this kind of shit:
Smith’s mother, Samyra, provided a statement from Maurice’s younger brother Ainias, a sophomore at Dulles High School in Sugar Land, Tex. Ainias Smith was listed among “freshman to watch” in a 247Sports recruiting story last December, and is being recruited by schools.
But Alabama can clearly be stricken from his potential list. And Ainias Smith’s statement said he has heard similar feelings from others in the Houston area since word of his brother’s situation came out. [Emphasis added.]
“I respected coach Saban, but it’s hard to have respect for what he’s done to my brother and has never apologized for how he was treated,” Ainias Smith’s statement said. “He didn’t even care if he had food or money to eat during those weeks or if he was working out to stay in shape to possibly return to the team. This entire situation has made me have trust issues with coaches because the way coach Saban talked to us while he was at my house, and it made me think that everything was going to be all good. But now he has showed me another side that I didn’t think I would see out of him.”
Gentlemen, start your negative recruiting engines.