I can’t help but cringe every time I see Georgia’s athletic director has taken the time to speak with the AJ-C.
This interview with Seth Emerson isn’t nearly as bad as McGarity’s now infamous Q&A with Mark Bradley last year about the football program, but it’s not exactly revelatory, either. He discusses with Seth his hope that the athletic programs at Georgia will strive to do better in the Director’s Cup rankings, where Georgia has been on a steady slide for years. He doesn’t offer much of a game plan for that, though.
On the other hand – and I know some of you who don’t want to hear it will accuse me of beating on a certain deceased animal again – McGarity does say something that illustrates one issue I have with the management of the athletic department.
For all the angst that some Georgia fans over their most high-profile teams, they haven’t been the problem: The football team’s No. 9 ranking was worth 69 points towards the Director’s Cup standings, and the men’s basketball team’s NCAA tournament appearance earned 25 points.
Elsewhere, the strength of Georgia’s athletics now rests with swimming and diving, men’s tennis, men’s golf and track and field. What do they have in common? Coaching longevity: Men’s tennis’ Manny Diaz (28 years), swimming and diving’s Jack Bauerle (36 years for the women and 32 for the men), men’s golf’s Chris Haack (19 years) and track and field’s Wayne Norton (15 years).
Meanwhile, much of the rest of the program has seen tinkering in an effort to improve. There have been six coaching changes out of 15 varsity sports head coaches since McGarity took over. The jury is still out on each of the new hires, including baseball (Scott Stricklin has had two losing seasons), gymnastics (Danna Durante has made the final six twice but not claimed a national title yet) and women’s basketball (Joni Crenshaw replaced the retired Andy Landers this year).
“You look at the sports that have been consistently successful here, those coaches have been here a long time,” McGarity said. “They have a tradition that has been established over a number of years.”
Or to put it another way, none of the coaches McGarity has hired are pulling their weight. But I’m sure he’ll do a righteous job finding Mark Richt’s replacement one day. That’s the Georgia Way, innit?