It appears the Nick Saban–Kirby Smart rivalry of mentor-pupil is getting a heated off-field start ahead of wherever it winds up being on the field.
In June, reports surfaced that Maurice Smith had been given permission to pursue a transfer from Alabama, even as the defensive back’s family left the door open for a return to the Tide. Georgia, headed by Saban’s former right-hand man Smart, was mentioned as a potential landing spot for the soon-to-be graduate transfer as a possible return faded.
However, it was reported last month that UA had steadfastly declined to, for whatever reason, release Smith from his scholarship. Smith went through an appeals process to secure a release that has, thus far, been unsuccessful.
Tuesday night, Smith’s mother confirmed to DawgNation.com that her son “wants to go to Georgia. Period.” She also confirmed that the university in general and Saban specifically are, essentially, being absurdly obstinate when it comes to a player who has one year of eligibility remaining, a year in which the Tide and Bulldogs won’t face each other yet again, transferring to Athens and the former Tide defensive coordinator’s program.
From the report:
The university is continuing to be resistant to any request to release my son. That’s where we are,” Samyra Smith said. “In (Saban’s) mind, the best decision is for him to stay here. And he doesn’t think anything other than that is best for the kid. …
“They’re being difficult. Intentionally,” Samyra Smith said. “It’s his choice. It should be his choice, if he wants to leave here, he should be able to do that. ….
“He wants to go where he feels like he’ll have the level of success he wants to have. It may work, it may not. But it should be his choice.
If how Smith’s mother’s framing of the situation is even remotely accurate, it’s the bushiest of bush league moves by Saban. Petty, even. Or even worse.
Especially as, in mere days, the student-athlete involved in this hostage situation will be a graduate of his former school. Why he can’t move on to the school of his post-graduate choosing is one of the greater hypocrisies of the current NCAA model.
Even more hypocritical? Chris Black, who announced his decision to transfer from Alabama last December, landed at Missouri as a graduate transfer in February — without Saban or the university blocking his move to the SEC East school.