When last we checked in on the intrepid Maurice Smith, all signs pointed to him transferring to Miami. Now, according to his mother, Georgia is really the apple of his eye.
From ESPN, citing the AJC story (a rag I bluntly refuse to link as long as trollmaster Michael Carvell is an unofficial 'Dawg recruiter,):
The mother of Alabama reserve defensive back Maurice Smith told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her son is being blocked from transferring to Georgia by coach Nick Saban.
Smith, a senior from Sugar Land, Texas, is still listed on Alabama's roster online. With two career starts under his belt, he worked with the first-team defense during the spring.
In mid-June, AL.com reported that Smith was seeking to leave as a graduate transfer, which would make him eligible to play immediately at another school.
"He wants to go to Georgia. Period," Samyra Smith told the AJC. "That's where he wants to go."
Look, this is going to be hyped up as a Kirby vs. Saban battle, which it is not. Forests of trees shall be slain, and a small ocean's worth of ink shall be spilled to make this another "Oh, awful Nick Saban" story, which again it is not.
No where has it been reported that Saban will not let Smith out of his NLI, which contract governs the commitment of Smith. No where has it been said that Saban is flatly refusing to release Smith to go to the 'Dawgs, the 'Canes or to help start up the scrappy Shelton State Community College Buccaneers. What Saban has refused to do, based on reports from Miami and momma, is not allow Smith, who is a true Senior, have a waiver to play immediately under a grad transfer rather than sit out a year at UGA to gain residency, and serve what would be a de facto redshirt season.
Whether or not to permit an undergrad to waive the one-year residency requirement is purely at the discretion of the school where a player commits. The schools are not obliged to do it; they are not required to do it; they are not even strongly encouraged with the promise of an ice cream and pizza party to do so.
Saban thinks that Smith is better served finishing his senior year, and eligibility, at Alabama. That is his right to do so. And, Maurice Smith thinks he's better off elsewhere; again, that's his right. But, Smith has a choice under NCAA bylaws, he can stay his senior season at Alabama and complete his eligibilty, or he can be released from his Alabama NLI and is going to be subject to the exact same transfer requirement as nearly every player in the NCAA/NAIA system since Methesulah's day:
18.104.22.168 General Rule. A transfer student from a four-year institution shall not be eligible for intercollegiate competition at a member institution until the student has fulfilled a residence requirement of one full academic year (two full semesters or three full quarters) at the certifying institution.
So, when you read the #MadOnline think pieces the next few weeks, and you see the click bait headlines about Saban refusing to release Smith from his NLI, know that there are very clear guidelines that govern transfers. Smith doesn't just want to leave -- he wants to leave and be immediately eligible to play, not take what would be, for all intents and purposes, a redshirt year at UGA.
The Alabama staff is not obliged to make that transfer process a game of Chutes and Ladders; nor, should it be emphasized, is their requiring Smith to play by the same guidelines as everyone else, some cruel, petty, vindictive move: what the staff is doing is just the ordinary course of affairs for the abiding majority of student-athlete transfers. Winning the media war or eliciting sympathies do not change the guidelines which govern Smith's eligibility, residency or transfer.
Whether or not that NCAA residency requirement should exist is, of course, a different matter, and one beyond the scope of this article.
"He wants to go to Georgia. Period. That's where he wants to go."
Good luck to you, Maurice...in 2017. It's a game of who's going to blink first, and I don't believe the Alabama staff is going to grant an extraordinary release to a conference rival, helmed by a coaching staff that was drawing University of Alabama paychecks a year ago.
(h/t Josh Chatham for pulling down the bylaws for this one.)