07/18 14:28 CDT SEC coaches don't want transfer rules to lead to free agency
SEC coaches don't want transfer rules to lead to free agency
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) --- For all their talk about wanting what is best for players, SEC
coaches draw the line at new rules pushing college football closer to free
For those coaches, free agency for players ended on high school signing day.
The Southeastern Conference recently passed new rules making it easier for
players to transfer within the league and be immediately eligible without a
waiver, either as graduates or when leaving a team hit with NCAA sanctions.
Before the new rule, graduate transfers had to sit out a year when moving to a
new SEC school.
Such coaches as Georgia's Kirby Smart and Florida's Dan Mullen worry the new
rules could move the league closer to free agency if more freedoms to players
are granted. They cringe at the idea players could be eventually empowered to
seek transfers as soon as they drop on the depth chart or are asked to run
"I've expressed my belief in a guy who graduates from college being able to go
where he wants to go," Smart said Tuesday at SEC Media Days. "I feel very
strongly about that, but when you start talking about every year ... I've got
to be honest with you, it's hard."
Smart said it would be especially tempting for freshmen, struggling to adjust
to college life, to look elsewhere if it were easier for them to transfer.
"It's not easy your first year in college," Smart said. "It's one of the
biggest adjustments you go through in life. So to be able to make it easy to
leave, I think that's tough. I think it's a fine line. I want the players to be
able to have the freedom and rights, but it's tough. Put yourself in that
situation when you come in there and you've been told how good you are your
whole life and it's difficult to make that transition."
Smart's support for graduate transfers having immediate eligibility became well
known when he successfully lobbied for defensive back Maurice Smith's move from
Alabama to the Bulldogs in 2016. The league's decision on Smith helped pave the
way for this year's rules change on graduate transfers.
Mullen says he's waiting to see if the new rules make a positive impact on the
"As it's implemented and we get to see how it works, it's hard to say whether
it's going to be good or bad," Mullen said Tuesday.
"I don't think anybody wants to get into having free agency in college
football. But I think we also want to make sure we're doing the best we can for
student-athletes and the best we can for universities."
Mullen said he wouldn't want his two children to have an opportunity to quit
instead of working through adversity.
"One of the things I don't want is to ever have them put in a situation where
as soon as something gets hard, I want to transfer, quit or do something else,"
he said. "I don't think that's good parenting. I don't think that's educating
Some see greater freedoms for players leading to a second recruiting season
where coaches look to attract transfers from other schools.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said he won't recruit from other schools "at this
"Obviously there's players who may reach out to us and look at the
opportunities, but ... we don't dive into that recruiting as a full process at
this point, no," he said. "Obviously it's illegal, but you don't want to turn
it into another form of free agency. None of us want that. We are college
coaches. We like developing these players and building your teams, and that's
the way I like to do it."
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