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Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart worried about college football players getting too much, too fast from NIL

Georgia coach Kirby Smart on Tuesday expressed concerns about the “reverse system” of name, picture and likeness deals and his frustration with the recruiting calendar.

In a question-and-answer session with coaches at the Texas High School Coaches Association Convention in San Antonio, Smart was asked if he was tired of answering questions about NIL.

“Damn yes, and you’re tired of hearing about it, too,” Smart said to laughter from around the room.

But he spoke about his concerns about players getting too much too quickly.

“It’s unfortunate that it slipped the way it did because I was one of the biggest supporters of the name, the image and the likeness [rule] had to be there,” Smart said. “See, it’s not for everyone. Not everyone will make the same amount of money with it. … They will have different salary scales for different types. I can accept that.

“What I can’t accept is a young man getting $10,000 a month for four or three years of college? That’s $120,000 a year. What do you think he’s doing with it? Will that actually make him more successful in life? Because I promise you, if you gave me $10,000 a month my freshman year, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. I believe that.”

Smart said he believes he needs to fight, scrape and look for opportunities, whether it’s not having money to get out of an ATM or not playing much football. He said that if he had been paid that much money – adding that $10,000 was just a random number – he might not have had to work so hard.

“You could say, ‘Well, he deserved that,'” Smart said. “Well, he might deserve this if he deserves it. If he goes out and plays, I’m all for taking care of guys who were part of the program and start and play. It’s an inverted system right now, where coming in from the bottom is rewarded more than going out from the top. And that’s tough.

With some players receiving more high-profile or lucrative offers than others, Smart was asked by a manager how he prevents this from causing jealousy or disharmony in the dressing room. Last year, at the same keynote session in San Antonio, Alabama’s Nick Saban told high school coaches that his quarterback Bryce Young had already landed $1 million in NIL deals.

“Our quarterback has already approached ungodly numbers and he hasn’t even played yet,” Saban told contestants in 2021. “If I tell you what it is, it’s almost seven digit numbers.”

Smart said he believes it’s better for those things to be open and just be honest with the players.

“I think education is the key to NIL,” Smart said. “You start with an NFL model. Why does Lamar Jackson or Deshaun Watson make more than the left guard? Well, that’s the price they charge. That’s the market value they charge. So when you start educating players about this, they’ll understand why Bryce Young gets multimillion-dollar endorsements, but the next guy might not.”

And, he said, there’s no better way to get a NIL deal than when the team succeeds.

“It’s also a cancer, a disease that can destroy our team,” Smart said. “The quickest way not to get a NIL deal is to lose. We had a great example of this last year. We had 85 players that had some kind of NIL deal. They are Not all the same. They will never be the same. But they had some form of ZERO opportunity.”

Smart said the rush of recruitment visits around this time last year – after COVID-19 restrictions ended – was a test.

“I was ready to resign,” Smart said. “I was ready. We had children every day from June 1st to June 28th. At midnight caravans came from Atlanta airport and they wanted to go to our hall and train at midnight because they had to go to another school. At 7am they had to go to another school at 10pm and tried to do the stopovers.

“If we weren’t there at midnight, we wouldn’t see them. What do you do? Say no? These kids are flying out of Washington, out of California. We were there with them and it drove our staff crazy. “

He said this year was similar, with four consecutive weekends of 10 to 12 official visits.

“I’m talking sunrise to sunset,” Smart said. “Well, what else are you going to do?”

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/34267988/georgia-bulldogs-coach-kirby-smart-worried-college-football-players-getting-too-much-too-fast-nil Georgia Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart worried about college football players getting too much, too fast from NIL

Emma Bowman

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