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

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Georgia coach Kirby Smart on Tuesday raised concerns about the "reverse system" of name, image and likeness deals and his frustrations 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 whether he's tired of answering questions about NIL yet.

"Hell yeah, and y'all are tired of hearing about that s--- too," Smart said, to laughs across the room.

But he discussed his concern about players getting too much, too fast.

"It's unfortunate that it slid the way it did because I was one of the biggest advocates that the name, image and likeness [rule] needed to be in place," Smart said. "Look, it is not for everybody. Everybody's not gonna make the same amount of money off of it. ... You're gonna have different pay scales for different guys. I can accept that.

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

Smart said he believed that he had to fight, scratch and claw for opportunities, whether it was not having money to get out of an ATM or not playing much in football. He said that if he had been handed that much money -- adding that $10K was just a random figure -- he might not have had to work as hard.

"You could say, 'Well, he deserves that,'" Smart said. "Well, he might deserve that if he earns it. If he goes out there and plays, I'm all for taking care of guys that have been part of the program and start and play. It's a reverse system right now, where the bottom coming in is getting rewarded more than the top going out. And that's tough."

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

"Our quarterback has already approached ungodly numbers and he hasn't even played yet," Saban told the attendees in 2021. "If I told you what it is, it's almost seven figures."

Smart said he believes it's better for these things to be out in the open and to 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 demand. That's the market value they demand. So once you start educating players on that, they understand why Bryce Young gets multimillion dollars in endorsements but yet the next guy might not."

And, he said, there's no better way to get an NIL deal than for the team to have success.

"That's also a cancer; a disease that can destroy our team," Smart said. "The quickest way to get no NIL deal is to lose. We had a great example of that last year. We had 85 players that had some form of an NIL deal. They're not all equal. They'll never be equal. But they had some form of NIL opportunity."

Smart said the onslaught of recruiting visits at this time last year -- after COVID-19 restrictions ended -- was a test.

"I was ready to step down," Smart said. "I was done. We had kids every day from June 1 to June 28. We had caravans showing up from the Atlanta airport at midnight and they wanted to go in our indoor and work out at midnight because they had to go to another school at 7 in the morning, they had to go to another school at 10 in the evening and they were trying to make the stops.

"If we weren't there at midnight, we weren't going to see them. What do you do? Say no? Those kids are flying from Washington, from California. We were there with them, and it drove our staff crazy."

He said this year has been similar, with four weekends in a row with 10 to 12 official visits.

"I'm talking about sunup to sundown," Smart said. "Well, what else are you gonna do?"