ATHENS – The Maurice Smith saga continues with neither side showing outward sides of blinking. Georgia and Alabama continue to practice, while Smith is not, but he and his family appear to be digging in for the long haul.
Smith, a defensive back, graduated from Alabama on Saturday and would like to finish his career at Georgia, where he would be immediately eligible – but Alabama head coach Nick Saban has declined to release Smith to do so.
Even as Saban shows no signs of relenting, Smith is not backing down either.
Smith’s mother, Samyra, provided a statement from Maurice’s younger brother Ainias, a sophomore at Dulles High School in Sugar Land, Tex. Ainias Smith was listed among “freshman to watch” in a 247Sports recruiting story last December, and is being recruited by schools.
But Alabama can clearly be stricken from his potential list. And Ainias Smith’s statement said he has heard similar feelings from others in the Houston area since word of his brother’s situation came out.
“I respected coach Saban, but it’s hard to have respect for what he’s done to my brother and has never apologized for how he was treated,” Ainias Smith’s statement said. “He didn’t even care if he had food or money to eat during those weeks or if he was working out to stay in shape to possibly return to the team. This entire situation has made me have trust issues with coaches because the way coach Saban talked to us while he was at my house, and it made me think that everything was going to be all good. But now he has showed me another side that I didn’t think I would see out of him.”
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart reiterated that he “firmly believed” a player who graduates “should be given the opportunity to go to where he wants to go.” But otherwise, Smart said, there’s not much he can do.
“It’s a situation that’s kind of fluid and ever-changing so we’re kind of going with the flow,” Smart said to XM/Sirius radio, in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.
Smart was Saban’s defensive coordinator from 2007 until taking over at Georgia in January. Smart was asked in the XM/Sirius radio interview how the Smith situation has affected his relationship with his former boss.
“To be honest with you, since I’ve been here leading this program, I’ve been concerned with this program,” Smart said. “I know he’s been concerned with his program. He’s doing what he’s gotta do to make the University of Alabama the best. And I gotta do what I’ve gotta do to make the University of Georgia the best. That’s ultimately two separate entities. So there’s not a lot of conversation back and forth.”
And that’s how Smart left it.