ATHENS — Fall semester classes began at UGA on Thursday, and Maurice Smith was still waiting too find out whether he would be enrolling in any of them.
The SEC has a waiver request on its desk that would allow Smith, who graduated from Alabama last Saturday, to transfer to Georgia for his final year of football eligibility. The request came Wednesday after Alabama finally relented and released Smith to sign with any SEC school. At the time Smith’s family was told a decision could come in around 24 hours or less, but the conference office is being deliberate.
SEC bylaws require that transfers within the conference – even of graduate players – include “circumstances that demonstrate a clear reason for granting an exception to those rules.” That’s according to a statement the conference released on Wednesday.
“As part of the SEC waiver process, a due diligence procedure ensures that pertinent information from the involved parties is gathered,” the SEC said on Wednesday. “This information is gathered for the purpose of a thoughtful and appropriate consideration of the particular facts associated with each case. The intent is for the waiver process to be handled in an efficient but deliberate manner, so the timeline for resolution of a waiver request varies with each unique situation.”
Alabama head coach Nick Saban had said Wednesday night that “we have done everything that we can do institutionally to allow the conference to make the decision about whatever they decide is in the best interest of the conference and the SEC rules relative to Maurice Smith. So that is past us now. It is beyond us.”
Georgia officials have been quiet on the process. If the waiver is granted, Smith is poised to join the team as soon as possible, and considering his background with head coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinatoor/secondary coach Mel Tucker (they each coached him last year at Alabama) the adjustment period shouldn’t be long. He’s seen as a potential starter at any of the five positions in the secondary.
If the SEC denies the waiver request, it’s unclear what Smith and Georgia’s next move would be.