Kirby Smart has a nuanced take when it comes to NIL and the transfer portal. He’s said repeatedly that they’re a net good for college athletes.

But neither setup is perfect. And Smart, seen as one of the top coaches in the sport, is tired of being asked about it.

“I’m so tired of the talk about the NIL and the talk about the portal and all the complaining,” Smart said in a recent interview with Paul Finebaum. “Let’s go play football. Let’s get our team against their team and see where we stand. Let’s go play.”

Smart will have to wait a few more months for his team to do so. Georgia opens the 2024 season against Clemson on Aug. 31.

Clemson has not taken a single player out of the transfer portal in this cycle. Georgia, by comparison, has taken eight. That’s still fewer than other top programs such as Texas and Alabama.

Smart makes it clear that the transfer portal and NIL are a good thing. Players should get a piece of the pie and should potentially be able to look elsewhere.

“I don’t want to sit up here and belittle NIL. I think NIL in and of itself is a long time coming,” Smart said. ”The players deserve a piece of this, and we want that. But we also want them, and everybody, to understand, it’s okay to grind it out where you are, to fight through tough times. We have example after example at our place of people who didn’t start, they were frustrated, their third year they started and their fourth year they were a top three-round draft pick.

“That’s a pretty good career. I think that’s good. Players can make money while they do that off of their name, image and likeness, that’s a good thing.”

Georgia saw 21 scholarship players transfer out of the program this offseason. Many had spent multiple years in the program, contributing on Georgia’s recent championship-winning teams.

But four members left after just one season at Georgia.

And those players all have the opportunity to transfer again if they so desire to do so.

Smart believes reform will eventually come to the sport. There will be guardrails against reckless NIL spending and hopefully better structure when it comes to the transfer portal.

But the current set-up clearly frustrates the Georgia coach. Smart knows he’s not alone.

“I think we’re going to look back on that 10 years from now and say, the people that had multiple transfers are probably not going to be successful academically,” Smart said. “I think that’s going to be looked back on, and people are going to say, ‘Was it a good thing I left twice?’ Most of the kids we check in with that leave our place, they say they regretted it. Well, if you leave a place twice, what did you actually accomplish? That’s probably the toughest thing for me.”

Soon, Smart will get his wish. Georgia will be back on the field, competing against all the other college football programs.

The games, the team and the players still mean the most to Smart. And if he has to put up with chatter about the transfer portal and NIL, he’ll do so.

Smart knows the current model isn’t sustainable. And for the time being, he trusts the sport’s leadership. Which will theoretically allow Smart to focus on his team, first and foremost.

“When we win games, we get excited about it. We find joy in it. We’ve enjoyed that. I’ve enjoyed that ride,” Smart said. “I think it’s different every year. You have a different team. I’m trying to figure out exactly what this team needs. This team has been a little bit hungrier in spring ball because they didn’t win it. They weren’t in the playoffs. So there is a little bit of more motivation.