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Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are two of the top coaches in the country.

How Kirby Smart, UGA can use Nick Saban’s latest ‘rant’ to its advantage

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Nick Saban’s anti-player statement could benefit Georgia football

Alabama coach Nick Saban had another one of his “rants”over the weekend. No, it wasn’t an a**-chewing of an assistant. It had to deal with players leaving early, and being in the position to constantly replace them.

Saban made some pointed comments about players coming out early, and the influx of that happening in recent years. The point Saban was trying to make was that it ends up hurting the players in the long-run.

But where Saban is drawing some criticism is with his comments directed at former safety Alabama Ronnie Harrison.

“If you’re a third-round draft pick, and we had one here last year — I’m not going to say any names — goes and starts for his team, so he’s making third-round money, which is not that great,” Saban said Saturday. “He’d be the first guy taken at his position this year, probably, and make $15-18 million more. So, the agent makes out, the club makes out, and now they’ve got a guy that’s going to play for that kind of money for three more years.”

Harrison was the only Alabama player taken in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He started eight games last year for Jacksonville. Last season. The former Alabama player was clearly irked by Saban’s comments, as he posted his thoughts on the subject on social media.

“Coaches get so Butt Hurt Now Days About a Kid Making a Decision to live out his dreams and Go Pro,” Harrison tweeted. “Makes me think do you really care about the success of the kid or how well your program performs?”

For reference, the only draftees who signed contracts worth more than $20 million last year were all taken in the top seven picks of the draft. No defensive back is expected to be taken that high in this year’s class. Former Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrcik was the first safety taken last year, and he was selected with he No. 12 pick by the Miami Dolphins.

Now you might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with Georgia football? Directly, not much. But indirectly, this could end up benefitting the Bulldogs.

Despite Saban’s intentions, his comments come off as pretty anti-player. He wants players to stay with the Alabama program longer so that he can have the Crimson Tide stay on top of the college football world. But his comments — specifically directed at Harrison  — come off as a serious misstep.

Related: How Bill Belichick became the latest piece in the Kirby Smart-Nick Saban rivalry

College football powers, not just Georgia, will use this as a negative recruiting tactic. This is a rare public misstep in the eyes of recruits. There’s a difference between these comments, and say Saban going after a media member.

Georgia’s had no problem beating Alabama for recruits in the Kirby Smart era. In just this last cycle alone, Georgia signed the top two players from the state of Alabama.

Georgia, like Alabama, had a small exodus of junior talent. Three of the four players who left early had poor performances at the NFL combine. But did Smart comeback and question the decisions of his former players?

No. He’s well aware of the trend of more and more juniors leaving early. And he knows the problem won’t be solved by harping on a player who can no longer contribute to the program. It’ll be done by bringing in great young prospects to replace them.

Related: Georgia football coach Kirby Smart sends message with action, not words

“I think more and more teams, especially upper echelon programs, will have rosters full of freshman or sophomores and a few juniors, because your (would-be) seniors are coming out early, or they’re transferring, they’re going in the (transfer) portal if they’re not playing,” Smart said.

“So your teams will always be loaded with youth, and probably whoever manages that best, is who’s going to remain at the top of college football.”

As of this writing, Alabama still has the No. 1 recruiting class, though that’s due more to class size than overall quality of recruits. Georgia, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma all have a higher average recruit ranking than the Crimson Tide’s current ranking.

You can still sell being a place where top players want to come and play early, develop and then leave for the NFL draft. That’s what Smart can tell players they can do at Georgia. And he can now add that he won’t call them out in the media after the fact.

No, this likely won’t be the incident we look back on as the fall of Alabama’s reign over college football. But it’s another small slide for the Crimson Tide. And it offers Georgia a chance to get a little closer to surpassing the Crimson Tide as the SEC’s top team.

Georgia baseball picks up another big series win, beats Vanderbilt

The No. 4 Georgia baseball team had a top-5 matchup this weekend with Vanderbilt. And the Bulldogs came out on top once again over one of the SEC’s top teams, as they took two out of three from the visiting No. 5 Commodores.

Georgia dropped the first game of the series, 3-2 in 11 innings. But the Bulldogs came away with an 8-3 victory on Saturday, and followed that up with a 3-1 victory on Sunday. In the Sunday game, Georgia’s pitching staff held the potent Vanderbilt offense to just one hit.

This was the first time that Georgia has won a series against Vanderbilt since the 2008 season.

“We talk about being resilient all the time. If you’re going to be a good, tough team you have to overcome some things,” Georgia baseball coach Scott Stricklin said. “We’ve lost a couple Friday night games when Emerson Hancock has just been lights out. It’s heartbreaking but you have to bounce back and we’ve done it both times against top ten teams, LSU and now Vanderbilt.”

The Bulldogs have won all four of their SEC series now, and have the best record in the conference at 9-3. Georgia is one-game ahead of LSU, Ole Miss and Arkansas at 8-4. The Bulldogs are likely to move up once Monday’s polls are released. Georgia went 4-1 this past week with additional wins over Clemson and Kennesaw State.

“We’ve been doing it in front of sold out crowds and that is just such a big deal to play well in front of the fans. I’m excited for our team and for our fans. We still have a long way to go, we’ve got six more SEC series.”

Georgia’s action this coming week includes a Tuesday game against Georgia Tech and a weekend series at Tennessee. The Bulldogs lost to Georgia Tech earlier in the season in Atlanta. First pitch between the in-state rivals is set for 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.

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