Before you get cranked up, this isn’t a post about Mark Fox. It’s a post about the decision-making process behind Fox’ future.
Say what you will about the mediocrity of this season’s SEC basketball, Fox has coached a historical season at Georgia. And as Towers notes, he’s done that in the wake of the departure of the most talented player he’s coached in Athens. Even so, realistically speaking, the best this team can likely hope for is a middling seed in the NIT.
If you’re Greg McGarity, you pretty much know what you’ve got with Fox’ five years in Athens. The only question left to answer is whether this season represents a floor from which Fox will inspire recruits to come to his program and lead Georgia basketball to bigger and better things, or a ceiling that shows the limit on how much Fox can wring out of the talent he’s able to coax to come play for him. That’s a conclusion you should have already reached by now. We shouldn’t be reading tweets like the above and nodding our heads in agreement.
There are three possibilities about Fox’ fate. One, McGarity is waiting to deal with an extension until after the season is over. (That begs the question why, but roll with me here.) Two, maybe Fox is gone, but McGarity doesn’t want that news to affect the rest of this season. And three, McGarity is reluctant to make a decision, and is waiting to see if a decision can be forced upon him by a turn of events, like, say, Georgia shocking the world by winning the SEC Tournament and landing as a high seed in the NCAAs, or the opposite in a two-game flame-out in the SEC and NIT.
I have no idea which is the case. If it’s the third scenario, what he’s likely to get is something in between, and what he’s likely to do as a result of that is uncertain. It seems to me that passivity in the form of letting Fox stay without a contract extension likely dooms Fox and the program to more seasons of mediocrity. But it’s an option that wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if taken.
The reason I’m playing the pessimist here is because I hear the faint echoes of a decision made by one of McGarity’s predecessors – Vince Dooley’s infamous one-year ultimatum to Ray Goff. It was a call that served no interests well, other than letting Dooley put off an unpleasant task for a year while hoping for a miracle to let him off the hook. That’s not good management. But sitting in limbo is too often the Georgia way.
When it comes to folks behaving badly, this athletic department has no problem cutting them off with alacrity, condemning and decisive all the way. But when it comes to judging how to deal with performance, that’s a whole ‘nother matter. Routinely operating in no man’s land is a sign of lacking confidence in decision-making on an organizational level. It’s why I marvel at those of you who are so certain that finding a successor to Mark Richt is such a slam dunk. I don’t say that because I think Richt is the man, come hell or high water. I just don’t get why some of you fail to see what I see – that the hire of Richt, in the context of how the athletic department has often screwed around with hirings and firings since Joel Eaves’ departure, was a lucky break as much as anything else. There’s no guarantee they’ll have the same luck the next time.