Tennessee football: SEC must clear Cade Mays to prove no Georgia bias

Greg Sankey’s inaction for the Tennessee football Volunteers favors the Georgia Bulldogs.

In August, the SEC gave the Georgia Bulldogs the easiest schedule in the East when revising the slate due to the pandemic. Now, the league hasn’t yet moved on clearing Tennessee football offensive lineman Cade Mays and Ole Miss Rebels defensive back Otis Reese, two UGA transfers.

When pressed on those two transfers, Sankey implied bleak news for both of them on Birmingham JOX 94.5’s The Roundtable Wednesday morning. He simply deferred to the current rule, which says any player who transfers within the SEC and has not yet graduated must sit out a year, regardless of what the NCAA says.

So if you’re keeping score at home, the league has gone from adding the two projected easiest teams possible from the West to the Dawgs’ schedule, the Arkansas Razorbacks and Mississippi State Bulldogs, to not moving on clearing two transfers from UGA to play. At this point, that suggests lots of favoritism from the league.

The favoritism looks worse with Mays. He was cleared by the NCAA already, so the SEC is the only entity standing in his way. Meanwhile, Tennessee football visits Georgia on Oct. 10, so benching Mays fulfills a UGA wish and gives them an advantage when the two square off.

Reese, meanwhile, was still waiting on clearance from the NCAA as of Wednesday morning. In a tweet Tuesday night, he revealed explosive allegations of racism while at UGA and also implied Kirby Smart lied to him about supporting his transfer.

However, since Mays already has been cleared by the NCAA and is on a team that will face Georgia, we’ll stick with the hypocrisy regarding him for now. Mays transferred to Rocky Top to play with his brother, Cooper Mays, as his father, Kevin Mays, is locked in a lawsuit with UGA. Simply put, he has the best case.

If Sankey relies on a precedent ruling to not allow Mays to play, it will the height of hypocrisy. Combining that with the schedule the league gave Georgia, and it’s hard to see him not favoring them. So what brings on the hypocrisy?

For starters, precedent shouldn’t matter in these times anyway. There’s a pandemic. The SEC ignored precedence by adding two more teams to everybody’s schedule and scrapping non-conference games in the first place.

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If times are that unprecedented, shouldn’t such an arbitrary rule be irrelevant, especially when the departure from precedence gave Georgia such an easy slate? How could the league ignore precedence when it’s coddling UGA but not when it’s something that defies what UGA wants.

Meanwhile, there is already leeway in the transfer rule. If a player is transferring from a school that is hit with a postseason ban, he can play immediately. Obviously, the reasoning behind that involves extenuating circumstances for the particular athlete. Shouldn’t a player’s father being locked in a lawsuit with the school he’s transferring out of also count as such a circumstance?

Taking these two circumstances together, though, there becomes a clear case. If the pandemic is enough of an extenuating circumstance to avoid precedent and arbitrarily give Georgia the easiest possible schedule of any team in the SEC East, shouldn’t it be enough of an extenuating circumstance to ignore the transfer rule for this year?

If Mays is not cleared to play for Tennessee football, it will look like Sankey is simply making up the rules as he goes, all of which just happen to benefit UGA. Obviously, Mays playing is a threat to Smart and the Dawgs.

There’s only one way the SEC can avoid the perception that it’s favoring the Dawgs in this scenario. It must clear Mays. The league has an out with Reese until the NCAA issues its ruling, but it would be a bad look for the SEC, which is constantly praised for how it handles athletes, to buck the NCAA after the NCAA did the opposite of what it’s usually panned for doing.

Think about this. Everybody is quick to hit the NCAA’s blatant hypocrisy and oppression when it doesn’t clear athletes to play. Meanwhile, leagues like the SEC position themselves as conferences fighting the NCAA in its mistreatment of athletes.

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Well, if Mays doesn’t get the stamp from Sankey to play for Tennessee football this year, in unprecedented times, all of that goes out the window. It also suggests the league is working behind the scenes to give Georgia the easiest road possible.