Confident Kirby Smart authoritative at SEC Spring Meetings, stays above fray

Georgia coach Kirby Smart meets with reporters at SEC spring meetings(Mike Griffith/DawgNation).

DESTIN, Fla. - Georgia coach Kirby Smart stayed above the fray at the SEC Spring Meetings on Tuesday, very much in character as he focused on his team and the moment at hand.

Smart, once on the same LSU staff as Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher, brushed off the well-documented feud, calling it “Mickey Mouse” in comparison to what he has heard and been a part of on headsets.

Instead, the coach of the reigning national champions presented with authority his thoughts on the proposed schedule models, NIL challenges and intraconference transfer window.

But when talked turn to the addition of Texas and Oklahoma to the league in 2025 and what he thinks about future games with the current Big 12 powers, Smart’s ever-present sense of urgency surfaced.

“I don’t think about it because I’m worried about the opponents that I’ve got to play this year,” Smart said. “It’s easy for you guys to think about those matchups, and it never crosses my mind, because I’m concerned with the schedule I’ve got.

“I’m worried about Oregon, and that’s just the truth.”

Smart, however, does not seem so worried about Georgia’s ability to maintain its place among championship contenders.

“If you’re good enough, you’re old enough,” said Smart, whose UGA team is replacing a record-15 NFL draft picks, along with four former starters who left the team via the transfer portal.

“We’ve got some talented guys, we just don’t have a lot of experience,” said Smart, who’s entering his seventh season riding a string of five straight Top 10 CFP finishes.

“They’ve bought in, they’ve done a tremendous job in our offseason, and they are ready to come back in the next couple of days to get back to the grind.”

Here’s a look at what Smart said about the hot-button topics that dominated the first day of the SEC Spring Meetings, which will run through Friday at the Sandestin Beach Hilton:

His take on the Saban-Fisher feud

“To be honest with you, my phone started blowing up right when Jimbo hit press conference. I haven’t thought about it a day since.

“In the world that we operate in, you’re worried about what’s in front of you right now, which is the 15 recruits I’m trying to get on the phone, the conversations I’m trying to have.

“I’m not really worried about a feud between two guys that used to sit in the same staff meeting and have similar conversations. At the end of the day, things like that happen.

“You guys should be on the headphones sometimes. You’d think that was a Mickey Mouse. It just so happened in front of everybody. It’s not something I prefer to comment on. I’m worried about what we do at Georgia and that’s my focus.”

Thoughts on proposal for the SEC to play a nine-game schedule

“You have to walk a fine line. I don’t think there’s a coach in his right mind who’s going to say in a perfect world I think it’s eight games, nine games, because there’s so much more involved than just what the coach wants.

“There’s a lot to do with television contracts, there’s a lot to do with making sure everybody gets to play a fair schedule. It’s hard.

“When you look at the options out there, there’s a lot of options. I’m for what gives the student-athlete the best experience in our conference.

“We’ve got two more teams on the horizon, and that changes the dynamics as well. There’s nothing wrong with a nine-game schedule, but that might not be the best thing for the conference right now. I think it’s a lot more about who you play in those other games than necessarily a nine-game schedule.

“We’ve been very aggressive in terms of scheduling and scheduling opponents out in the future that make great match-ups because we want the University of Georgia to play in big games.

“So whether that’s another SEC opponent or another Power 5 opponent, that excites our fan base and attracts our fan base, then so be it. But I don’t have a stance in terms of this is what’s best, or that’s what’s best, because it changes as our conference changes.”

On how NIL has affected his recruiting

“It is changing the narrative for the player. I make a conscious effort to ask kids when they come in to meet, what’s the most important thing to you. That certainly has transitioned in the recent years from kids would say playing time, kids would say the ability to win a championship, kids would say proximity to home, relationship with my coach. Now, a lot of times that revolves around what can I make in NIL. I don’t know.

“Some would argue that maybe what it should be. I don’t think that should be the basis of your decision on where you go to school based solely based on what you make.

“You have to decide what kind of kid you want to recruit, what do you want in your organization and what are their priorities.”

On the proposal to move back intraconference deadline from Feb. 1 to May 1:

“I prefer the way things currently are, where there two windows as they are. I think it’s tremendously difficult to go through three or four months of work in spring practice and then have your roster change within the conference.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘OK, it’s May 1, a guy can go wherever he wants to go. That happens a lot of times that’s for the good of the player. We’ve had some kids who go through spring and realize they won’t get the opportunity they so desired and they want to go look at other schools. There are hundreds of schools they can look at.

“To say they can’t go to the SEC, I think it’s a good thing to have a date set earlier. They make a decision coming out of the season if they want to explore their options in the SEC.”

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