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Kirby Smart is getting help Saban-izing his program from Georgia lawmakers

Kirby Smart

Kirby Smart was hired away from Alabama to help turn Georgia into Alabama East, and the Saban-ization of Bulldogs football is well underway.

Smart has already restricted Mark Richt's liberal transfer policy -- namely, by preventing Richt's former players from joining him at Miami -- and now he's amended the Georgia's constitution with the help from some state legislators.

Let's back up a bit.

Last week, as Tuesday night bled into Wednesday morning, Georgia's House of Representatives approved by a 31-22 vote an amendment to a bill that will allow state-funded athletics programs to delay their response to Freedom of Information Act requests from three to 90 days.

What does that mean?

Essentially, media covering Georgia athletics (and Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, and so on) will have a much more difficult time providing timely oversight to the public. Georgia will now have three months' cover after signing contract extensions, sponsorship agreements, facility improvements and the like. Want something to pass unnoticed? Time it to where nothing is approved until summer and the documents won't see light of day until fall -- and the public is much more interested in next Saturday's opponent.

How did this law come about? Depends on who you ask.

Smart said he had nothing to do with it, though he admitted speaking about it with lawmakers.

“First of all, I shouldn’t get any credit for that,” Smart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When I went over to the capitol I was asked what’s the difference in our program and some programs I’ve been at in the past. One of the things I brought up, there’s a difference. And that was the extent of my conversation with those guys about that."

A few state politicos filled in the gaps.

Tom Krause, chief of staff for state Sen. Bill Cowert, a Republican who hails from Athens and presented the bill to the Senate, had this to say to the Macon Telegraph: "It's a similar subject that, from what I understand, came to light through Kirby Smart at UGA. It had to do with football teams or athletic departments that are recruiting people in state of Georgia. They had a (shorter) window where the documents were not yet public, but other states had 90 days."

Here's state Rep. Earl Ehrhart: "It just allows us to play on the same field as Alabama and everybody else."

And Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle: "I hope it brings us a national championship. That's what I hope."

For what it's worth, Alabama's law does not allow state athletics departments to wait 90 days to fill FOIA requests, instead requiring a "reasonable" amount of time. Laws vary from state to state, but the vast majority require requests to be filled within 10 days or less.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Arizona associate professor and FOIA expert David Cuillier told the AJC. “This is crazy. My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw that.”

A tip for Georgia lawmakers: Alabama wins national titles not because it has a greater lag time in filling public information requests, but because it has better players and coaches than everyone else.