UGA Head Coach Kirby Smart Sets the Precedent for Transferring to Other Division I Schools

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By Joe Vitale:

Kirby Smart’s recent transfer restriction on Georgia running back AJ Turman has been the center of controversy as of late. The national media has got a hold of the story and has blown it way, way….way out of proportion.

Here’s the scenario: AJ Turman, a reserve running back for Georgia who is yet to see the field during his three year tenure in Athens, approached Kirby Smart and requested a transfer. Smart allowed it, however, not without a caveat. Turman told DawgNation that Smart restricted him from transferring to the University of Miami, where Smart’s predecessor Mark Richt is now the head coach. He also restricted Turman from transferring to The University of Florida, arguably Georgia’s biggest rival. The national media got their claws on this and would not, nay, will not let go. The funny thing is, Turman never said he wanted to attend Miami or Florida. So why is this even an issue?

In the future, Smart recently stated he will not allow his players to transfer to Miami or other in-conference schools, a policy practiced by most coaches around the country for the past 40 years.

“I wanted to set the precedent for the future that kids would not be able to go to Miami right away,” Smart said. “It’s very important that we understand that, and that’s pretty much standard operating procedure when a coach leaves one place, that a kid can’t go there with the coach…”Moving forward, where it’s more important to know that we will not release kids to SEC schools unless it’s a special situation,” Smart said. “…There are very few situations where you want a kid going to somebody on your schedule, or somebody in your league. That’s pretty much standard operating procedure.”

This is new to UGA fans, as the policy is in direct contrast to Richt’s, who during his time at Georgia, did not restrict transfers. There have been mixed reactions from Georgia’s fans, with most being pleased by Smart’s tough-guy coaching style. At times, Georgia fans were perplexed by Richt’s easy-going approach to certain matters. DawgNation saw too many ex-players transfer to Auburn and Alabama.

Had Turman been allowed to transfer to Miami, he may not have went on to become the next Todd Gurley, but Smart has set the precedent moving forward. Furthermore, the “Miami Rule” most likely will disappear once the the current sophomore class graduates. Smart’s intention is to protect the other 84 scholarship players and give Georgia the best chance to win on Saturday.

One media personality who has a problem with this whole situation is Mike Greenberg, who along with Mike Gollic, co-hosts ESPN’s national morning radio show “Mike and Mike”. Greenberg went as far as to proclaim, “shame on you”, in the direction of Smart.

“Shame on you Kirby Smart,” Greenberg said early Wednesday morning. “You’re scared of some 19-year-old kid going someplace, who’s obviously barely playing for you and that’s why he wants to transfer in the first place or has whatever other reason to go someplace else. And you’re so terrified to allow him to go to someone you might play on your schedule? Shame on you. You’re making millions of dollars and this kid’s one chance in life to play college football. He should be allowed to go wherever the hell he wants and for some coach to sit there and put restrictions on because he’s in the conference or on his schedule is a disgrace and it shouldn’t be allowed. Kirby Smart may never speak to me again and I don’t care. This is a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. If a kid decides for whatever reason to go from one school to another, he should be allowed to no matter what. You got to take whatever job you want and get paid millions of dollars.”

Greenberg, who for whatever reason appears more upset about this ordeal than Turman himself, seems to forget that outside of the SEC and Miami, there are 115 other football programs who would welcome Turman with open arms and allow him to revive his football career. Turman even told DawgNation that he would like to transfer to a school closer to his home in Orlando…Central Florida comes to mind.

“Life’s too short” said Mark Richt when asked why he allowed his players to transfer to the school of their choice. Why throw that quote in here? After each time Richt excersized his “life’s too short” philosophy and allowed players to transfer to the school of their choice, the national media would question him for doing so shortly thereafter. These media outlets (NBC Sports, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, etc.) would acknowledge how nice of a guy Richt is, but they would also call him a mediocre coach who does not care about winning.

Recent case study: In 2014, UGA running back JJ Green requested a transfer. Richt allowed Green to transfer sans any restrictions. A few days later UGA fans were outraged to hear that Green, who was a semi-productive, versatile play for Georgia, had decided to transfer to in-state rival Georgia Tech. Media outlets sided with Georgia fans, saying Richt is too nice to coach in the SEC and needs to crack down and hurt a few feelings every now and then.

Kirby Smart does crack down and suddenly it’s a problem? He’s being shamed by the national media? Coach Smart is coaching the way he knows best and in the best interest of the University of Georgia. You just can’t please everyone in college football.

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