I thought I was done with discussing the Gurley suspension, but after Greg McGarity opened up to the media about what took place, I got a few emails asking/challenging me about why I hadn’t posted a response. Honestly, I don’t think what he had to say has done much to change my perceptions, but since you asked…
First, I recommend you read this post from Bernie which breaks down the timeline of how things unfolded. From there, a few observations:
- The investigation. I never had a problem with how Georgia conducted the investigation. As I said before, once Bryan Allen came knocking on Georgia’s door, the school had little choice but to check things out. Unlike FSU, plausible deniability wasn’t an option. Georgia deserves credit for steering Todd to legal counsel early on, and even more credit for not asking Gurley a direct question it didn’t want to hear the answer to.
- The P.R. An absolute, unmitigated flop. Which is puzzling, because McGarity got off to such a terrific start. But giving the backhand to a fan base understandably upset by the news about Georgia’s star player and then closing up until the NCAA delivered the bad news led to a lot of unnecessary anxiety and anger towards the school. And let’s face it – McGarity didn’t open up now because he thought we needed to know, he did so because he was stung by the criticism. The thing is, it’s not like a lot more needed to be said, as most of the fan base grasped the “rules are rules” aspect of what came down. It wouldn’t have taken much to settle us down, but we never got that. And the most troubling aspect of all of this is that McGarity insists he “…didn’t understand the criticism that UGA had mismanaged the situation, or had a ‘P.R. nightmare.'”
- Misreading the NCAA. Why Georgia thought it would be able to convince the NCAA to go easy in this situation escapes me. There’s an established track record out there that clearly indicates the more a school cooperates in an investigation, the easier it makes it for the NCAA to drop the hammer. What really gets me here is that you’re dealing with a corrupt organization enforcing a corrupt rule with little public support, if not outright contempt in the media, and an enforcement division in shambles, so why would you worry about the possibility that the NCAA would take the extreme measure of effectively ending Gurley’s collegiate career? There’s no way that was a shitstorm Mark Emmert would be willing to face. Aside from being honest with itself about the P.R. debacle, the next thing the athletic department needs to do is take a page from Auburn’s book and hire somebody intimately familiar with the inner workings of NCAA enforcement. (And, yes, I get that the AD was probably nervous about the Bauerle situation, but that’s all the more reason to make sure the gun you’re defending yourself with is fully loaded.)
- The Georgia Way, in a nutshell. I hate this quote: “I don’t think we should apologize to anyone for seeking the truth, for doing what is right, and just for operating your business the right way.” As is always the case with Georgia athletics, virtue is its own reward. At least he’s got something to keep him warm at night during the offseason.
That’s all I got. Really.