Kirby Smart probably thought he was sending a message when he refused a transfer request by running back A.J. Turman. The only problem was the message he sent completely backfired and now he’s having all sorts of problems walking it back.
Smart says he wanted to “set a precedent” when he refused Turman’s transfer request, but instead of coming across as the guy who’s going to take Georgia to national championship heights, he came across as a millionaire bully punishing a kid who simply wants a chance to play rather than spend a year backing up Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and prize freshman Elijah Holyfield. Turman may not be in the same category as those three guys, but he’s probably good enough to play somewhere and that’s all he wanted. Just a chance.
Smart’s decision got national attention Wednesday when Mike Greenberg of the Mike and Mike Show on ESPN Radio handed him a well-deserved verbal beating that.
Here’s what Greenberg had to say: “Shame on you Kirby Smart. You’re scared of some 19-year-old kid going some place, 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 (may) 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.”
A little bit later, Greenberg added, “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."
Since then, Smart has softened his stance and told Turman he’s free to transfer to any school except Miami or another Southeastern Conference school.
But why are there restrictions?
I may not fully agree with the NCAA rule that requires a kid to sit out an entire year when he transfers, but I do understand some of the reasoning behind it. Telling a kid where he can and cannot transfer to, however, is a place where I draw the line. If a kid isn’t happy, he should have the freedom to go anywhere he believes the grass is greener.
Coaches do it. Kids should have the same option.
I have long been an advocate of rewriting the NCAA transfer rules. The NCAA argues that if a kid didn’t have to sit an entire year, we would have the kind of wholesale free agency that could shake a program down to its foundations.
Maybe, but it doesn’t happen that way in Division IAA, Division II or Division III where kids can transfer without having to sit out a full year. Who’s to say it would happen in Division I if the transfer rules were changed?
I am not in favor of unlimited transfers but I do think the NCAA should alter the rules somewhat. I think it makes sense to tie transfer rules to academics. If a kid wants to transfer without sitting out a year, then he (or she) should have passed at least 12 hours of real – not remedial courses – for that academic year. And by real, that doesn’t include loading up on some silly electives.
A kid who wants to transfer with fewer than 12 hours of real courses passed for any academic year would have to sit out a year. Kids who have passed 12 hours would be required to pass 12 hours of real courses at the new school to be eligible. If a kid is still taking remedial courses and wishes to transfer, then transfer to a juco.
If the NCAA is as serious about academic progress as it claims to be, tacking on academics to transfer rules is one way to ensure kids don’t this into wholesale free agency.
UF SPRING SPORTS WEEKEND
Baseball: The #1-ranked Gators (22-1, 3-0 SEC) put their 16-game winning streak on the line tonight in the first game of a 3-game Easter Weekend series with Kentucky in Lexington. Logan Shore (4-0, 2.23 ERA) will get the Friday night call on the mound while A.J. Puk (1-1, 1.88 ERA) goes Sunday and Alex Faedo (5-0, 2.61 ERA) closes things out on Sunday.
Florida’s 22-1 start is the best in school history and the 16-game winning streak ranks second. The Gators won 18 in a row during the 2012 season.
First baseman Peter Alonso is off to a .390 start at the plate with 4 homers and 28 RBI. Shortstop Dalton Guthrie is hitting .380 while freshman second baseman Deacon Liput is hitting .380 with 1 homer and 18 RBI.
Softball: The eyes of the softball world will be on Baton Rouge where the #1-ranked Gators (30-1, 5-1 SEC) take on #7 LSU (26-5, 3-3 SEC) in a Friday doubleheader followed by a single game on Saturday. The Gators are tied for the best start in school history with the 2011 team.
The Gators are #1 nationally in ERA (0.87) and fielding (only 11 errors, .986 percentage).
Kayli Kvistad is hitting .440 with 4 homers and 32 RBI. Freshman Amanda Lorenz is hitting .395 with 2 homers and 24 RBI. Senior Kelsey Stewart (.347 batting average) is the NCAA active leader in hits with 326. Aleshia Ocasio (10-1) leads the nation in ERA at 0.41 while freshman Kelly Barnhill (10-0, 1.40 ERA) is second in strikeouts with 99. Delanie Gourley is 10-0 with an 0.86 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 65-1/3 innings.
Lacrosse: The Gators (9-1), ranked second nationally behind Maryland, play host to Vanderbilt Saturday.
Women’s Tennis: Saturday, the 7th-ranked Gators (11-2, 6-0 SEC) will face off with #8 South Carolina in Columbia.
Men’s Tennis: Ranked #16 nationally, the Gators (9-4, 4-1 SEC) take to the road to face #24 Mississippi State today and #41 Alabama on Sunday.
Gymnastics: I’m missing something here. Bridget Sloan won SEC Gymnast of the Week six times, scored three perfect 10s and is the nation’s #1 all-arounder with an average of 39.373 and didn’t make All-SEC? Sloan ranks third nationally on bars, ranks fourth nationally on floor, is tied for 7th in beam and is tied for 12th nationally on the vault. And she doesn’t make All-SEC?
Just to put things in perspective here – I’m not being a homer – the SEC Gymnast of the Year was Caitlyn Atkinson of Auburn. She’s very good – 5th nationally all-around, tied for 16th on vault, tied for 31st on bars, tied for 7th on beam and tied for 12th on floor – but is that a better record than Bridget Sloan?
Making All-SEC from Florida were Kennedy Baker, Alicia Boren, Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto and Alex McMurtry. Florida coach Jenny Rowland was co-Coach of the Year with Arkansas coach Mark Cook. The Gators are the #2 team in the nation. Arkansas is tied for 13th.
MARCHING TO THE MADNESS: SWEET 16 UPDATES
(Kansas-Maryland and Duke-Oregon finished after deadline)
Oklahoma 77, Texas A&M 63: The SEC’s last hope for the 2016 season was no match for Buddy Hield (17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists) and Oklahoma (28-7). Oklahoma buried 11 3-pointers while holding Texas A&M (28-9) to a 6-28 night behind the arc.
Villanova 92, Miami 69: Instead of Hurricanes, Miami should change its name to Matadors because that’s the way they played defense against Villanova. Nova got any shot it wanted any time it wanted and didn’t miss very often. The Wildcats (32-5) advanced to the Elite Eight by hitting 62.7% from the field and 66.7% (10-15) from the 3-point line. Critical to Villanova’s success was the job center Daniel Ochefu (17 points) did on Miami’s Tonye Jekiri (2 points, 4 rebounds, 5 fouls).
Robert Griffin III, the former Baylor Heisman Trophy QB who was a bust in Washington, signed a free agent deal with the Cleveland Browns, who last week released another Heisman Trophy QB bust in Johnny Manziel. There is plenty of speculation that the Browns will still draft a QB – either Carson Wentz of North Dakota State or Jared Goff of California – with the second pick overall.
Speaking of Wentz, he could be the first QB from a Division IAA school to be drafted in the first round since the Baltimore Ravens selected Joe Flacco back in 2008. Wentz grew up in Bismarck, ND, which might explain why he wound up in Division IAA. At North Dakota State, he helped the Bison win four straight Division IAA national titles.
Former Alabama and New England Patriots fullback Kevin Turner died Thursday of ALS.
Will Muschamp got a huge 2017 quarterback commitment Thursday when Jake Bentley (6-4, 219, Opelika, AL) pledged to South Carolina. Bentley is ranked 9th among 2017 QBs by Scout.com. If you’re thinking this is a huge shock, then consider the fact that Bentley’s dad is the running backs coach at South Carolina.
Jordan Bonner, a juco linebacker who signed with Kentucky back in February, was stabbed six times while visiting his home in Euclid, Ohio during spring break.
Carmelo Anthony says he and buddies LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Paul would all take pay cuts if they could play on the same team in the future. Melo says the four would have to play somewhere that the weather is warm.
The best television commercial released during March Madness is a tie between Charles Barkley at the toll booth and Cookie Monster using Siri on his iPhone6 to endure the 14 minutes while a fresh batch of cookies is in the oven.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Is it fair that coaches who make millions of dollars per year can restrict where a player can transfer? And, is it fair that the same coach can go anywhere he wants without sitting a year, yet a player who wishes to transfer has to sit out?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Soul music isn’t dead but there aren’t many bands out there that bring back memories of Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding or Sly and the Family Stone. This is a group that got its start at Samford University in Birmingham. Lead singer Paul Janeway reminds me of a cross between Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. Today’s music is a live performance recorded in Seattle.