The controversy that gained national attention is finally over. On Friday afternoon, the SEC approved a conditional waiver that allows Alabama defensive back Maurice Smith to join the Georgia Bulldogs.
Recent Alabama graduate and defensive back Maurice Smith was granted a full release by head coach Nick Saban on Wednesday. Saban made it clear that he opposed allowing Smith to transfer to the Georgia Bulldogs, or any other SEC school. The situation was simple. Smith and his family were in favor of the transfer, but Saban was not. Neither side was willing to compromise.
"Smith and his family explained to Saban — as they had before — why Smith wants to leave Alabama, why they feel he should be able to transfer wherever he wants and how disappointed they’ve been with Alabama’s handling of this process.They weren’t getting the responses they wanted. That led to their frustration progressively growing.Eventually, Smith’s mother, Samyra, asked Maurice and his father to leave the room."
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"What ensued was a 20-minute verbal battle between Smith’s mother and Saban.According to Samyra Smith, it ended with an angry Saban repeating that he doesn’t feel like it’s in Smith’s best interest to leave Alabama, that he doesn’t think Smith should be able to transfer to another SEC school and that he’s not going to do something that he doesn’t agree with.Samyra Smith said Saban closed with “That’s all I’ve got to say,” then got up and left the room, leaving her and the member of the compliance department surprised and sitting in Saban’s office by themselves.After a few moments of awkward silence, Smith’s mother looked at the compliance official, smiled and said, “Alright. I guess the meeting is over.”"
Saban releases Smith, SEC approves waiver
Despite his efforts, Saban lost this battle. The University of Alabama athletic department ended up granting Smith a full release. After he applied for the waiver and was released from the Tide, the SEC approved Smith’s conditional waiver on Friday. He will now be eligible to play for the Georgia Bulldogs immediately and the timing couldn’t be better. The Bulldogs lost one of their seniors on Wednesday, Tim Kimbrough, due to his transfer.
"The league announced the decision Friday afternoon. Smith and his family were awaiting the decision at home in Sugar Land, Tex., and Smith was expected to fly to Athens right away.This fall semester, the SEC rules say, Smith must take nine credits towards his stated degree – Public Health – or he would not be eligible to play in the postseason. Long-term, Smith must receive his graduate degree within two years – the 2018-19 academic year – or Georgia cannot request similar waivers for three years, or until Smith graduates.“Maurice has clearly and passionately stated his desire for a graduate degree in Public Health,” SEC commissiooner Greg Sankey said in a statement, also saying: “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.”"
What will Smith bring to UGA?
With Smith on the field, what do Georgia Bulldogs fans have to look forward to? He is already familiar with head coach Kirby Smart, who was his defensive coordinator for the last three years. According to reports, Smith is a very physical and versatile player who is well liked by his teammates.
Smith played in each of his three years at Alabama, appearing in 11 games as a freshman. That season, he totaled 13 tackles. He continued to improve his sophomore year, playing both cornerback and nickel back. Smith had one start that season and appeared in every game.
Last season, Smith didn’t have any starts, but he did finish the season with 15 tackles and one sack. When the Crimson Tide came to Sanford Stadium last season, Smith did play on special teams. However, he didn’t record any stats in that game.