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SEC approves Alabama transfer Maurice Smith’s move on to Georgia

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Well would you look at that, adults acting like adults when it comes to what’s best for a graduated student-athlete.

The saga of Maurice Smith had grown more heated and contentious in recent days, with the Alabama defensive back wanting to transfer to Georgia but head coach Nick Saban steadfastly refusing to grant a release to another SEC program.  Wednesday, UA blinked and granted Smith a full release, including permission to move on to another team in the SEC.

However, the SEC still had to sign off on the move.  Friday, the conference did just that, announcing in a press release that Smith (take a deep breath) “has received a conditional waiver to Southeastern Conference rules that will permit Smith to transfer to the University of Georgia to pursue a graduate degree while having the option to complete his final year of athletic eligibility in either 2016 or 2017, with provisions dependent on the achievement of Smith’s stated academic objectives should he play in 2016.”

The conditional waiver comes with a couple of catches.

First, if Smith plays in 2016 and does not complete nine hours of coursework, he would be ineligible to play in the postseason, which would include the SEC championship game, a bowl game or the College Football Playoffs.  Secondly, if Smith does not earn his Master’s degree before the start of the 2018-19 academic year, UGA would be barred from seeking any other similar waiver until Smith either graduates or the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year, whichever comes first.

The SEC actually waived two of its bylaws in granting the waiver, one that requires a transfer to have two years of eligibility remaining — Smith has one, plus a redshirt available if necessary — and one that states intra-conference transfers must sit out a season of competition.

In a statement, commissioner Greg Sankey indicated Smith’s academic prowess at UA played a role in his decision to grant the waiver.  Here’s to guessing that the heat Saban and the Tide had taken played a role as well.

“The standard for granting waivers has been clear and compelling evidence that there is reason for allowing an exception to SEC rules,” Sankey said. “I found, among other contributing factors, that a student-athlete who graduates in three years and exhibits a strong commitment to his or her academic future provides compelling motivation to help them achieve their goals on and off the field.

“An institution has an obligation to provide opportunities for graduate student-athletes to earn a graduate degree. Similarly, student-athletes have accountability to the universities that are providing the educational opportunities they enjoy. Maurice has clearly and passionately stated his desire for a graduate degree in Public Health. The conditions of the waiver allow him to achieve that goal and provide the institution with greater incentive to make his educational interests a priority.”

Unless they win their respective divisions, Smith’s old and new teams will not meet on the field in 2016.

In the release, Sankey also indicated that, because the way the rule is currently constructed places “our coaches and administrators in untenable situations,” it is time to for the conference to address the graduate transfer rule.

Wisconsin TE Kyle Penniston enters transfer portal

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I have never seen it myself, but the transfer portal must be the place to be. Wisconsin tight end Kyle Penniston is just one of the many players putting his name in the transfer portal, as reported Wednesday, as he begins to look for a new place to finish up his college football career.

First reported by 247 Sports, Penniston will have one year of eligibility left to use for the 2019 season. He will be eligible to play right away this fall as a graduate transfer. Penniston enrolled at Wisconsin in 2015 after accepting an offer from Wisconsin over offers from Oklahoma and a handful of other top programs in the Class of 2015.

Penniston appeared in 13 games for the Badgers in 2018 with three receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown. The instant rise of Jake Ferguson at the tight end position on his way to becoming the second-leading receiver for Wisconsin meant Penniston likely wasn’t going to play a pivotal role in the offensive gameplan in 2019. Wisconsin should still be in decent shape at the tight end position this fall, not that losing an upper classmen at the position is ever a good situation for a program. It’s worth noting Penniston was recruited under former head coach Gary Andersen, who adopted a different type of offensive scheme that would have potentially been a better fit for Penniston.

Where Penniston goes next remains to be seen.

Reports: ‘Medical condition’ prompts Royal Silver to leave Minnesota

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It appears Minnesota won’t have a sizable piece of its defensive line rotation moving forward.

Both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press are reporting that Royal Silver has left P.J.Fleck‘s football program because of what were described as “medical reasons.” The specific health issue or issues with which the defensive lineman is dealing hasn’t been divulged.

Thus far, the university has declined to discuss Silver’s status with the team moving forward.

Silver spent his first two seasons at an Iowa junior college, then took a redshirt for the 2017 season after transferring to Minnesota.  This past season, the 6-3, 300-pound lineman started five of the 11 games in which he played.

Amid reports of transfers, including QB Josh Jackson, Virginia Tech issues statement

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This is certainly an odd development that, given the plethora of transfers that only continues to rise, could actually become the norm.

Tuesday night, a pair of Virginia Tech football players, including second-leading receiver Eric Kumah, took to Twitter to announce that they had decided to transfer/enter their name into the NCAA transfer database.  A day later, it’s being reported that Josh Jackson, who, after going through a tumultuous offseason, began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury, has placed his name in the transfer database as well.

Given all of the abrupt roster upheaval, Tech head coach Justin Fuente issued a statement Wednesday afternoon somewhat addressing the developments over the last 24 hours or so.

Pitt announces hiring of ex-Maryland WRs coach Chris Beatty

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Nearly three weeks after clearing out a pair of spots on his offensive coaching staff, Pat Narduzzi has filled in those self-created holes.

Jan. 4, Shawn Watson was fired as Pitt’s offensive coordinator, replaced a little over a week later by former UMass head coach Mark Whipple.  The same day Watson was fired, Kevin Sherman was dismissed as wide receivers coach; Wednesday, Pitt confirmed that Chris Beatty has been hired as Sherman’s replacement.

Sherman spent the past three seasons at Maryland as receivers coach.  He also served as co-offensive coordinator and held the title of associate head coach while with the Terrapins.

“Chris is an absolutely outstanding addition to our staff,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “His expertise goes well beyond one position on the offensive side of the ball. That diverse experience is going to be an incredible asset for our players and entire coaching staff. He is also a highly driven recruiter with valuable contacts in so many key areas. We are looking forward to welcoming Chris, his wife Kris and his son Aaron to both Pitt and Pittsburgh.”

Prior to Maryland, Beatty spent time on Power Five coaching staffs at Virginia (2015), Wisconsin (2013-14), Illinois (2012), Vanderbilt (2011) and West Virginia (2008-10).  In addition to receivers, he’s also coaching quarterbacks and running backs.