Alabama has granted defensive back Maurice Smith a full release from his scholarship, allowing him to transfer, according to TideSports.com's Cecil Hurt. Smith would have to receive a waiver from the SEC if he wants to transfer within the conference, which is key considering his top choice is reportedly Georgia.
News broke about Smith deciding to transfer back in June, which was surprising considering Smith was a candidate for significant playing time in 2016 with Alabama. The early favorite to land Smith was Miami, but the focus quickly turned to Georgia, which is now coached by former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Smith's request for a waiver to transfer to Georgia was initially denied by Alabama, but now the responsibility has shifted to the conference to stand in Smith's way if they want to keep him from playing at Georgia.
Not that Nick Saban is ever particularly eager to talk about anything, but he didn't say much about Smith when speaking to the media on Wednesday:
"We have done everything that we can do institutionally to allow the conference to make the decision about whatever they decide is in the best interest of the conference and the SEC rules relative to Maurice Smith. So that is past us now. It is beyond us. We don't really need to talk about that anymore and I don't have any other comments to make about it. We're trying to focus on the guys we have here and what we need to do to help those guys have a chance to be successful."
Whatever the cause of the rift between Saban and Smith, the story turned into a surprisingly big deal. It culminated with a meeting between Saban and Smith and his parents, which ended with Saban and Smith's mother reportedly getting into a heated exchange and Saban walking out, according to AL.com.
The SEC is expected to act quickly on Smith's waiver request, but declined to comment other than a statement released to AL.com:
"As part of the SEC waiver process, a due diligence procedure ensures that pertinent information from the involved parties is gathered," said the statement released to AL.com. "This information is gathered for the purpose of a thoughtful and appropriate consideration of the particular facts associated with each case. The intent is for the waiver process to be handled in an efficient but deliberate manner, so the timeline for resolution of a waiver request varies with each unique situation. The SEC does not provide waivers of SEC rules absent circumstances that demonstrate a clear reason for granting an exception to those rules. Each waiver request is reviewed on a case by case basis."
Since Smith graduated from Alabama this summer, he would be eligible to play immediately if he's granted the waiver from the conference. The Georgia secondary returns plenty of experience across the board, but Smith could still slot in at nickel corner.