Maurice Smith: The player who caused Nick Saban to surrender

Defensive back Maurice Smith was finally released from Alabama and is close to transferring to Georgia, pending an SEC waiver. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Defensive back Maurice Smith was finally released from Alabama and is close to transferring to Georgia, pending an SEC waiver. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Last week, after the AJC’s Seth Emerson broke the story about an Alabama reserve defensive back having his attempted transfer to Georgia blocked by Nick Saban, I wrote that the coaches have too much power in college football.

The fact that Saban would prevent a player, Maurice Smith, who graduated in three years, from transferring to another SEC school was even more ridiculous than Kirby Smart blocking a backup running back, A.J. Turman, from transferring to an SEC school, Georgia Tech or Miami.

This wasn’t about rules. This wasn’t even about competition. It was merely another example of college coaches and their yes-man administrators completely losing perspective on the college mission (or some semblance of it).

Well, score one for the good guys –or,  the “amateur” athletes.

Curt Flood tested baseball's reserve clause. Maurice Smith tested the SEC's transfer rule. (AP photo)

Curt Flood tested baseball’s reserve clause. Maurice Smith tested the SEC’s transfer rule. (AP photo)

Saban relented Wednesday night. He released Smith from his scholarship. The only thing that could stop Smith from signing with Georgia now is if the SEC decides to not sign off on the waiver. But that would amount to one of the worst public relations missteps in SEC history (which is saying something)  so my guess is the conference will rubber stamp this.

Assuming Smith makes it to Athens, my first question to him would be: Have you heard of Curt Flood?

Because for Smith to get Saban, the most powerful coach in the history of college athletics, to effectively surrender on an issue like this is like a junior version of Flood challenging baseball’s reserve clause in 1969 (which eventually paved the way for free agency).

The SEC released a statement, saying, that the conference “”does not provide waivers of SEC rules absent circumstances that demonstrate a clear reason for granting an exception to those rules.”

“Clear reason” — which is Latin for overwhelming public sentiment and humiliation.

Saban really didn’t want to entertain questions about this with the Alabama media again: “We have done everything that we can do institutionally to allow the conference to make the decision. … So that is past us now. We don’t really need to talk about that anymore…”

So get off my lawn!

Several factors weigh in Smith’s favor and against Saban and the SEC. Smith graduated last week and should have the right to transfer anywhere he wants to. This case has been a particular mess because of how Smith has been treated (see below). The wind direction on the general transfer issue appears to be shifting in the players’ favor. The NCAA has a recent history of looking foolish in attempts to reinforce rules that restrict the freedoms of student-athletes. All that likely will lead to a waiver.

What made the Smith situation even worse than the Turman saga is Saban blocked his transfer, keeping him in Tuscaloosa, yet simultaneously ostracized him from the program and prevented him from using the athletic facilities. Smith also wrote a letter to the Alabama appeals committee claiming that his “locker was cleaned out and all of my personal belongings in the trash. … These personal items included my family photos, written goals, inspirational and sentimental items memorializing my deceased former friend, roommate and teammate, Altee Tenpenny, and items of personal value from my former teammates.”

That’s when the story blew up. It was a bad look for Alabama. It was a really bad look for Saban. Whether Saban had anything to do with Smith’s belongings being trashed, he never publicly acknowledged it or denounced it. That’s shameful.

Remember Aug. 10, 2016. It was the day Nick Saban surrendered.

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65 comments
dawg fan
dawg fan

This is currently on ESPN.com:  "Georgia running back A.J. Turman tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Smart has twice blocked his request to transfer to Miami, where his former coach, Mark Richt, has taken over."  Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't this just flat out NOT TRUE?  I thought AJ said he never had any intention of going to Miami.  The media appears to be on a witch hunt for Saban and Kirby if you ask me.  These transfer issues have to come up all the time in other conferences too but if it happens in the SEC it's portrayed as dirty and evil.  The media is such a freaking joke these days its unbelievable. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@dawg fan Sounds like UGA believes.....do as we say, not as we do. Why would it matter if he went to Miami or GT?.....from what you humps say the ACC is just a practice league...right skip?

dawg fan
dawg fan

@TOJacket What a shock.  The brain dead illiterate completely missed my point.  My point is that the ESPN guy said AJ wanted to go to Miami and that is 1,000% not true.  You need to join Malcom's book club and learn how to read.  Start with his children's book.  That' s probably your speed. Good grief son 

TideDawg
TideDawg

TOJacket.....that whining you hear is your echo!

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg You must have felt really upset and happy after the Bama beat down of the mutts last year?.....which end is the dawg?

TideDawg
TideDawg

@TOJacket @TideDawg TOJacket, are you related to Jeff Schultz? Do you ever post anything on the blog that is your own idea or opinion or do you just feed off what someone else writes? It appears that you don't have any original thoughts of your own. I would guess that's not what they teach at GT. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg @TOJacket Where in any of my post did I agree with Schultzy? Read post below..."Nick didn't surrender sheet"......you can't listen to a whining a$$ dawg but just so long.....here's an original thought....a decade of being irrelevant in the SEC.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Nick didn't surrender sheet..........just got tired of that Aggravating dawg whining.....that is hard to listen to. Especially 10 years worth?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Ever notice how there's almost always a pause in that whining the Saturday after Turkey Day?

The Doom
The Doom

Geez. Saban changes his mind and does something positive for the young man and your negative take is that the bad ole Nick Saban "surrendered". I don't think you could write anything positive about Saban to save your life. 


Anyway, good luck to Maurice Smith and also to Kirby over at UGA. And Roll Tide! 


Oh, and when you get there Maurice show them dawg players what  a national championship ring looks like. Maybe it'll motivate them to do more hard work and preparation as opposed to smack talking like they did to the Bama players coming out of the tunnel before last years game- right before the ensuing 38-10 butt kicking. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Doom Classical liberal Schultz is a sick man. I think he should transfer to ........anywhere but Ga. Ditto to Maurice Smith and Kirby. I don't think there are going to be anymore butt kickings at Ga.

SouthGeorgiaStrong
SouthGeorgiaStrong

now I have to eat my own words, thank you Saban for proving me wrong


CSN1234
CSN1234

This is a National Enquirer headline.  Jeff Schultz...you can do better than this. How about " Alabama Grants Full Release of Maurice Smith"  Nick Saban is powerful, but I'm sure the AD and others had an impact on the decision.  NO ONE surrendered....and  you should be above trying to create more controversy in this situation .  YOU have just made this ordeal more difficult for Maurice Smith. I'm Disappointed.

CSN1234
CSN1234

The NCAA and Coaches have too much power.  There needs to be a few rule changes:  1. If you are a walk on and not on scholarship, you should be able to transfer and play immediately (Baker Mayfield) 2. If you graduate you should be able to transfer and play immediately. (Maurice Smith) 3.  If the coach who recruited you leaves before coaching you for a full year, you should be able to transfer to that coaches new school and play immediately.


Just like a coach can get out of his contract and coach at another school in the same conference, it should be the same for the players.  There needs to be a one time transfer rule(similar to other sports) but it should also apply to scholarship players.


This is the CURRENT NCAA one time transfer rule: One-time transfer exception: If you transfer from a four-year school, you may be immediately eligible to compete at your new school if you meet ALL the following conditions:

  • You are transferring to a Division II or III school, or you are transferring to a Division I school in any sport other than baseball, men's or women's basketball, football (Football Bowl Subdivision) or men’s ice hockey. If you are transferring to a Division I school for any of the previously-listed sports, you may be eligible to compete immediately if you were not recruited by your original school and you have never received an athletics scholarship. 


"UGA's defensive coordinator and ILBs coach just followed Smart from one SEC school to another without having to sit out a year or get special permission from Alabama. Smart, likewise, was free to choose a new school without Nick Saban issuing public precedents."


Everyone needs to remember...Without ATHLETES, their is NO COLLEGE FOOTBALL and we are talking about a kids future.  Top recruits need to protect themselves by signing Financial Aid Agreements INSTEAD of The National Letter of Intent (to prevent their recruiting coach from changing jobs immediately after signing day.( Roquan Smith)


TideDawg
TideDawg

@CSN1234 Coaches are paid professionals and as such can quit or be fired whatever the case may be. You, as a paid professional, employee, or other, can be fired, quit your job, transfer or whatever, without permission. Coaches are no different. Maybe there should be some rules changes for student athletes, but if they are free to transfer without penalty there could possibly be a mass exodus of players every year from one school to another. I think there's a law in Georgia that says you can be terminated at anytime without cause.

Erica Wills
Erica Wills

@CSN1234  Bravo Bravo Bravo!  so well said.  bottom line these comments and opinions could go on for days but the one statement you made is the 'main thing' and that is " Without the Athletes, there is no college football".  So these Alums & Boosters in the stands can gripe all they want - they'd better start acknowledging the value and sacrifice these men bring to universities and lobby on behalf of the players not grown men (coaches) who try to stall/block transfers. 

Stinger2
Stinger2

Saban addressed the transfer on his presser yesterday. I watched the entire video and can tell you he never at any time raised his hands in surrender. What a sad way to attract readers AJC. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

For all of the TO Jackets out there that are bitter, angry and consumed with what goes on a UGA , join your fans that want to change that, and do something about it. Read Mark Bradley's article in today's AJC and be enlightened.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg What are you rambling on about?.....bitter, angry?....LOL? If I read an article about the Braves it will enlighten me....I got some Natty tall boys for that and some recipe!....I couldn't be happier, at this time the dawgs are still irrelevant....all is well.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket @TideDawg

Yet again, hypocrite, you berate a team that completely owns yours.

What does that say about you and your bunch?

Nothing positive--that I can assure you!

And I notice you didn't deny being consumed with all things UGA, as TideDawg accurately labeled you.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Saban/Alabama surrenders??? Give me a break Shultz. You're either a complete idiot or you just like to turn a good thing into something ugly. Congratulations to Range Rover, and Dawg fan, neither being Tide/Saban fans, for speaking the truth about the controversy monger Schultz. You may wonder how Schultz sleeps at night with the things he writes and then you realize what he writes is who he is and he sleeps like a baby. He tried to mock Kirby Smart because he is using techniques he learned from Saban. I wonder who Schultz's mentor was for his negative gutless writing. He must be going crazy knowing that Dawg football is now flavored with Saban teachings. Smart is his own man and he will take those teachings from Saban and improve on them to bring Georgia back into the national picture. Go Dawgs, Go Tide!!

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg Derek Dooley grew up with Coach "Dad" and then was a disciple of Nick Saban and he couldn't get a HC job if he had to?....wishful thinking......"flavored with Saban teachings"......that's a new one.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg You can't teach what Saban has......it was there when he was born.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@TOJacket @TideDawg I'm surprised that you can learn something new TO! Not all who graduate have learned anything. I think you may be one of those graduates. Same with coaching hopefuls. You can lead them to water...............!

dawg fan
dawg fan

@TideDawg  The AJC used to be one of the best in college football coverage.  Now it's a total joke.  "Dawgnation" is just Chip and Seth's platform to spew their obvious biases.  I rarely venture over there.  It's a waste of time.  If I want real UGA news I go elsewhere.  Then there's Bradley and Schultz who have both fell in decline IMO.  I applaud them for standing up to the Richtophiles and calling for the Holy One's ouster but other than that it's just pot stirring garbage like this these days.  I miss the days of Schlabach and Mr. College Football!!! 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

So Derek "couldn't get a HC job if he had to"???

You sure about that? He's had two of them so far, you know.

Your always-silly ramblings are increasingly spiced with ignorance. Not a good look for you there, gtcd.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@dawg fan

Agree wholeheartedly on DawgNation--a miserable failure from the start. Totally bush league to force only your largest, most loyal group of sports readers to join FB simply to be able to comment on stories about their team.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@dawg fan @TideDawg Pot stirring? This is a national story you idiot.....besides, if the AJC is going to write articles on top SEC teams....they have to write about Bama?

RangeRover
RangeRover

I'm neither a Saban or Alabama fan, but isn't it so telling how the incessantly negative and unabashed vomit producing liberal media (of which Schultz is the pivot man) can always find the worst in a positive moment?  Saban acquiesced, the kid and his parents (make that his mother, the standard of one-parent homes for our black youth) have their freedom (no mention by Schultz of course the tens of thousands paid for this kid's education and other benefits paid for by Alabama, of course) and Schultz paints a horror story.

dawg fan
dawg fan

@RangeRover  Yes, isn't it a GOOD thing that Saban showed some flexibility and changed his mind?  The man could save a baby from a burning building and the media would find fault with it because he doesn't smile at them during press conferences and love their stupid mindless questions. 

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

@RangeRover Not to take sides with Schultzie (I got no dog in this fight), but I find nothing laudable about someone doing the right thing only after being publicly pressured. Saban is certainly a great coach and its not like he invented the culture that shackles players in an unfair system, but he definitely has taken advantage of that system his whole college coaching career. Maybe think a bit before fitting him with a halo, eh?

dawg fan
dawg fan

@FineousMcDirtyBird You're only making an assumption that he did it because of public pressure.  You have no evidence that he did it because of that.  Nick Saban doesn't strike me as a fella who gives a flying crap about public pressure.  Maybe you should think a bit before talking directly out of your arse eh smart guy? 

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

@dawg fan @FineousMcDirtyBird The evidence, I would think, was his standing policy (also the standing policy of most other major conference coaches) of blocking transfers in-conference. The only reason this is a story is because he actually allowed an in-conference transfer. It's "dog bites man" if he had a history of letting kids do what they wanted. But whatever, he's a saint I guess.

dawg fan
dawg fan

Another misleading slam piece on the big bad boogie man in the closet Nick Saban.  There is absolutely no evidence that Nick Saban had anything to do with Maurice's belongings getting thrown in the trash as this article would lead you to believe.  To the contrary, Maurice received a text from an individual player claiming responsibility for it.  Nick Saban does plenty of wonderful things for his players and staff which are routinely ignored by the press because he doesn't have the warm and fuzzy personality that makes it easier for them to do their job, ala a Mr. Wonderful like Mark Richt.  I am not a Bama fan but I am a Nick Saban fan.  He's not perfect and I think he was wrong on the Smith issue, but I am a fan of anyone who strives for excellence in their profession and Nick Saban fits that to a T. 

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

UGA...the arrogance of Notre Dame and the record of BYU.


Without ole #34 you're Miss State in red and black!


Just remember the last time you won anything John Travolta was wearing that white suit.



Will Kirby have them rock the bus and jump up and down when Bama comes on the field again....38-10



Whoa ....Henry just scored again....Ruff Ruff

dawg fan
dawg fan

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie  No, Kirby will not do that.  You can find that kind of bafoonery in Coral Gables now.  Kirby will have us disciplined, focused and full of REAL confidence, not the fake juice that Mark Richt relied upon.  As a Bama fan you should know this and be very concerned.  Nick is getting older and won't be there much longer.  I also think you'll see that Pruitt is a downgrade.  I never was a fan. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@dawg fan @KeepOnSmilingWetWillie Is that real confidence the reason one of your LB's just booked?....Sunshine and Lollipops?.....You guys can rock the bus against Nichols State A&M?....whoever they are?

dawg fan
dawg fan

@TOJacket Yeah because players leaving teams never happens at all.  Did you learn to be this stupid or were you born that way? 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@dawg fan @TOJacket The returning leading tackler on the team......yea, that happens everyday......and you're calling me stupid?....."Sunshine and Lollipops"?

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

@dawg fan @KeepOnSmilingWetWillie Haha because you guys were brimming with confidence before Richt took over. Not that I'm a fan, or that anybody outside the state of Georgia actually cares about UGA, but that guy put the Dawgs in the national spotlight. What? Screw him because it was sooo great in the Goff/Donnan days? Morons.