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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during a press conference at the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

Georgia coach Kirby Smart identifies one part of his job that has become ‘a nightmare’

ATHENS — Kirby Smart said there’s one aspect of his coaching life that has turned into a “nightmare,” and he knows it won’t be going away any time soon.

College football has a much different look to it than it did just two years ago, before the NCAA approved one-time transfers and NIL legislation last summer.

Smart and the Bulldogs don’t appear to be taking too big of a hit on recruiting — yet — though it was publicly noted by Alabama coach Nick Sabam there were suspicions surrounding an 8-4 Texas A&M program landing the No. 1 recruiting class.

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Smart has not commented directly on Texas A&M, but he and UGA president Jere Morehead have both said they don’t want NIL to turn into players choosing schools based on where they can make the most money.

Still, Smart indicated he has been able to manage that aspect of the new world of college football.

“The biggest change has been the portal,” Smart said last week during a Sirius XM radio interview. “Those are the major changes that have changed coaches’ lives, in terms of timing of things.

“Like, what are we going to do now? This guy left, this guy came, and how are managing this, that’s been the nightmare.”

UGA lost 13 players in the transfer portal since the start of the year, including four former starters, and 10 defensive backs have transferred out over the past three years.

Smart is typically not one to complain, but he was transparent enough to acknowledge how the transfer rule change plays an effect.

Georgia safety Dan Jackson, who started four games for the national championship team and played in all 15, has been waiting to receive a scholarship.

But with players coming and going from the transfer portal, and team needs constantly changing, Jackson has been on hold.

Other than dealing with portal issues, Smart said, his coaching rhythm hasn’t been too different.

“It’s been pretty similar for me,” Smart said, “as far as the routine of what you do in May, what you do in June and what you do year-around.”

Outside of recruiting, Smart’s focus has been on keeping his returning players razor sharp to avoid the sort of complacency that can creep into a program.

“The pats on the back, the kids get them,” Smart said. “We communicated to them everywhere you go in your local communities, every time you do that, you’re a sponge,” Smart said. “You absorb that (pat on the back) and use that for energy to cast toward this year, because those 15 guys are no longer part of our team.”

Mike Griffith has covered the SEC for 25 years, follow him on twitter @MikeGriffith32

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