Will Leitch watches yesterday’s presser and nails the underlying message:
The move to fire Richt was, in this way, the precise reactionary one that Georgia has always claimed it wasn’t about. At a bizarre press conference on Monday morning, McGarity attempted to keep up the façade that Georgia remained the classy place you thought it was, heaping praise on the man he had just fired right as he sat next to him. He was able to bathe himself in the Christian good nature of Richt, who answered questions honestly but with no malice or anger toward the executioner a few feet away; Richt, by taking the high ground at every opportunity, allowed McGarity to believe he was somehow still doing things the Right Way, even as he evaded every question and refused to even give a reason for Richt’s dismissal.
Richt said he told his players that the way you feel and the way you act should be two different things, and he couldn’t have exemplified that any better in his press conference. McGarity tried to pretend he was somehow doing the right thing by Richt by standing beside him, that it meant Georgia football Stood For Something. But the only reason you felt that way was because of Richt.
With Richt gone, Georgia can no longer claim that it is any better, or different, than any other school that believes it should win a championship every year, that it will do anything in its power to get one as soon as possible, that cares more about expedience and emotion than prudence and patience. Now, it’s very possible, even likely, that Georgia shouldn’t have felt it was any different in the first place, that it was smug and self-aggrandizing to believe it wasn’t playing by the same rules everyone else was. Georgia is a big-time football program like the rest of them, and now it’s acting like one. “About time,” many will say. The illusion had to evaporate at some point.
I understand this. But then you can’t pretend, as McGarity tried to in the press conference, that things are the same as they ever were. They’re not. The central organizing principle of Georgia football, of this community, was that it was different here, that Richt was different, that this was all different. Now, no one can claim that, ever again.
The end result may be good. It may not be good. But it’s definitely going to be different, regardless of who they bring in. Because he won’t be Mark Richt.
And the guy who has the most at stake in the new world is Greg McGarity. Holding a joint press conference won’t change that.