MACON — Jim Harbaugh has a right to seek “a competitive advantage” by holding practices in the South, grants Kirby Smart. That doesn’t mean the NCAA shouldn’t do something about it, and Smart thinks it will.
Smart, making an appearance at the Macon Touchdown Club, opened it up for questions, and the first one he got was about Harbaugh, the Michigan head coach, planning to hold a spring break practice in Florida.
“They’re obviously trying to gain a competitive advantage and that’s their right. But I think the NCAA in due time will have to step in,” Smart said, adding later: “I don’t know how it’s going to go down. It’s going to be interesting to see, though.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. (GETTY IMAGES)
Harbaugh’s plan was decried quickly by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who is seeking an NCAA remedy. Sankey and others have pointed to time constraints on players, but Smart brought up some other misgivings.
“There’s a lot of factors that people don’t think about in that deal,” Smart said. “You’ve gotta think about recruiting rules, how are they going to handle those, is it an advantage, disadvantage? Are they gonna let other coaches come to it, are they gonna hold open practices? Do we all come in there and watch them and scout them? If they’re all open practices why don’t we go and watch them. It’s a Pandora’s Box of what it’s going to get into, obviously.”
Florida may be part of Georgia’s recruiting territory. But there are no plans for Smart to follow Harbaugh’s lead.
“I don’t want to get into doing it, because I’d like to practice right there at my facility, and I’d also like to have the prospects that are in the state (of Georgia) come to our practices and us not have to go to them,” Smart said. “It’s important for them to get on campus because ultimately that’s where they’re going to spend their next four to five years, on that campus, not wherever they’re at practice.