On Monday, Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops cited their Week 6 opponent — the Georgia Bulldogs, who beat them 51-13 — as a team that's used NIL (name/image/likeness) deals to attract players, and he encouraged their fan base to donate more so they can compete.
"Fans have that right," Stoops stated. "I give it to them. I just encourage them to donate more, because that's what those dudes are doing. I can promise you Georgia, they bought some pretty good players. You're allowed to these days. We could use some help."
He wasn't done there, though.
"That's what they look like, you know what I mean, when you have 85 of them," Stoops said. "I encourage anybody that's disgruntled to pony up some more."
UGA HC Kirby Smart was asked about Mark Stoops? comment on his program buying players.
?I think Mark is trying to garner interest in money from his fan base for his collective and we're all trying to do the same in terms of trying to get money for our collective.?
Full quote: pic.twitter.com/J0y80SlJGO
— Tres Terrell (@TerrellTres) October 11, 2023
Following Tuesday's practice, Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart was asked about the comments, and he was pretty neutral in his response.
"No reaction. It's much to do about nothing," Smart said. "I think Mark is trying to garner interest for money from his fan base for his collective and we're all trying to do the same in terms of trying to get money for the collective. Mark and I talked about NIL pregame and we talked about it in our meeting. I'm not biting on that."
It might be low-hanging fruit or the elephant in the room, but Stoops is 0-11 all-time against Georgia. Besides, Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary and running back Ray Davis came via the transfer portal.
Of course, though, Georgia succeeded in the portal, bringing in guys such as Rara Thomas, Dominic Lovett, Smoke Bouie and Len'Neth Whitehead. Against Kentucky, Thomas had a touchdown while catching five balls for 63 yards.
That said, Georgia did lose players in the portal, too, headlined by A.D. Mitchell, who's performing well for the Texas Longhorns this season.
"You know, you have to be smart and evaluate your players, talk to your players, explain where they are," Smart said Monday. "I think it's really important to have communication back home. You have to do all those things. But I don't know how different that is from everybody else because I don't know what everybody else does."
Coach Smart on Mark Stoops' comment where he said "I can promise you Georgia, they bought some pretty good players, too." Per Smart: "It's much to do about nothing really. Mark's trying to garner interest, money, from his collective and we're trying to do the same:"...said he?
— Anthony Dasher (@AnthonyDasher1) October 10, 2023
While the transfer portal and NIL are a big deal, Smart is already an excellent recruiter, signing a top 4 class yearly since 2017.
The Bulldogs will battle Vanderbilt this weekend while Kentucky takes on Missouri.
The Wildcats are No. 24 in the AP Top 25, while Georgia is the top dog at No. 1.
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