When you’re at a football school, even trolling about basketball is a tough task.

GTP isn’t a basketball blog, and this post should not be seen as an invitation to get into some sort of major debate over Mark Fox’ tenure.  What I wanted to comment about, instead, was this post over at Georgia Basketball Blog.

One would swear that the media would want to move past Basketball Season already and get back to Football, the postmortems that have come out prematurely are a sure sign of this.  The postmortems are forced reflections upon a regular season that has not ended.  The premature rush to summarize or make judgments about the 2015-16 Season and the Georgia Basketball program as a whole should be considered troubling.

The sentiments from the old media represented by Bill Shanks, Mark Bradley and Chip Towers reflect antiquated attitudes and prioritization of a major College Basketball program.  It should be noted that none of these journalists cover Georgia Basketball full time and even full time coverage is more-or-less defined as covering the sport from the start of Fall Practice through the end of the season in March.  The pre-game pressers come during SEC season when the Georgia Football season ends.  Journalists that try to cover Georgia Football and Basketball during the non-conference slate have to balance out the scheduling and try to avoid the ire of the readership.

Shanks does not cover Georgia Basketball and he admittedly does not care to cover it as he has mentioned in a segment on 960 WRFC-AM in Athens.  Mark Bradley swoops in to provide commentary on Georgia Basketball on a typically annual basis.  Chip Towers does Basketball coverage once the Georgia Football regular season and conference championship season ends, he could not pronounce Derek Ogbeide’s name after Thanksgiving when the media had already been pronouncing his name correctly.  Towers was late to the party because priorities.

The rush to the postmortems on the season reflect a laziness and desire to shake up the conversation on a season and a sport that fails to capture the imagination of the Georgia fan base.  The best way to shake things up is to sensationalize even if it is for Men’s Basketball.  Creating that element of controversy is clickbait during a time of the year that is rather dormant for Georgia Football…

I’d argue it’s not even particularly effective clickbait.

The whole thing is emblematic of something bigger than the men’s basketball program, which, when you think about it, is pretty big, even at a football school like Georgia.  The reality is that a large portion of the fan base cares little about anything at Georgia other than its football team.  If you think I exaggerate, consider some of the comment threads we’ve had here about McGarity’s hiring/firing track record.  Though it’s decidedly mediocre, many commenters in their desire to see Richt replaced were willing to dismiss it as being inconsequential.

Even though that came from a fan’s perspective, there is perhaps a certain element of truth to it from a strictly business perspective.  Football is the economic engine that drives the athletic department train.  That’s the house McGarity has to protect.  Yes, men’s basketball doesn’t operate at a loss, but some of that is because of rising television broadcast revenues that have lifted all boats.  (Just look at how much basketball head coaching salaries have started to rise over the past couple of years in the conference.  It’s not because the SEC has gone any more basketball crazy.)

As much as he gives lip service to the pursuit of Directors’ Cup excellence, McGarity knows he can get away with mediocre coaching performances from his hires – to a point.  Football doesn’t give him that luxury.  On the other hand, if Smart succeeds at the level we want, there’s no reason to expect the benign neglect given to most of Georgia’s other athletic endeavors to change.  We don’t care enough for that.

58 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

58 responses to “When you’re at a football school, even trolling about basketball is a tough task.

  1. Russ

    Well said, Senator. I am a casual BB fan, but I’ll follow UGA in Quidditch if we had a team. So I’m interested in UGA basketball and want us to do better. It is pretty shameful that the “media” doesn’t cover basketball. I just found Georgia Basketball Blog the other day and it’s hands down the best coverage of the team anywhere.

    I’ll leave my thoughts about coaching for the other blog, but I’ll just say I want us to have success in anything UGA chooses to do. However, considering all I’ll do is complain on a blog, I’m part of the problem, I guess.

    Like

  2. Gravidy

    I’m not familiar with that blog or the author, so I may be missing something. But it sounds like his main point is that people should wait until after the season to opine about whether Mark Fox should be retained or fired. Furthermore, it sounds like he thinks the reason people have dared to write such opinions during the season is because they don’t care about basketball and want to turn attention back to football.

    Well, OK, I guess that stance has some merit. But what’s his excuse for those same writers engaging in the same sort of speculation about Richt? Is that author trying to make me believe that those writers (and plenty of others) didn’t write opinions about Richt’s job security during the past several seasons?

    Like

    • Actually, I read this not as whether they should wait to decide on Mark Fox but that 3 media members have already declared UGA’s basketball season over with a couple of weeks left in the regular season plus the SEC tourney and any other post season play.

      I think that blogger sort of forgot that most people considered UGA’s football season over when it lost to Bama, and/or TN and/or UF.

      All that being said, I sort of have the same feeling about Fox that I did about Richt. UGA should be much better in basketball than it is. The state has had a deep and wide pool front-line talent for years but UGA has never recruited very well. Even coaches like Hugh Durham and Tubby Smith had trouble attracting talent.

      Fox has been acknowledged as a really good coach and teacher of the game but he doesn’t have the personality or cache. Look at the coaching talent and personality that the league has hired in the last few years. This is a team that should be much better than it is. While it is young and inexperienced up front, it is dominated by senior guard which usually is a formula for success in college.

      Like

      • Gravidy

        Fair enough. Either way, as you pointed out, I think he’s off base. Plenty of people wrote off Richt and/or the season during several regular seasons.

        FWIW, I also agree with your assessment of the potential of the basketball team. UGA could have a hell of a team if they got just some of the best recruits in the state on a regular basis.

        Like

        • If you look at the list of McDonald’s All Americans who have left the state to play basketball elsewhere, it is disheartening. Now most had aspirations to play somewhere else (including the NBA) from the beginning but maybe hiring the right coach maybe could have changed the mind of one or two.

          Tubby Smith was the right choice at the time but transitioning to Jirsa when Smith left was a mistake. Harrick was a bigger disaster and Felton/Fox were safe choices that recruit poorly in a state loaded with talent.

          Fox has put the team into the upper half of the conference consistently but the league is very weak. It also now has Frank Martin, Rick Barnes, and Ben Howland in the league. They have taken other school to the Tourney on a much more consistent basis. Pearl is a loose cannon and at the loose cannon of all Athletic Departments in the conference. UGA should be ahead of UF this year since Donovan is in OKC, instead they have lost to the Gators twice.

          If this season wasn’t make or break for Fox then next year will have to be.

          Like

      • UGA has never recruited well because of our facilities (especially the arena) demonstrate we don’t care institutionally about the program.

        Like

        • simpl_matter

          Agreed (and I only see it on TV).

          Like

          • Gaskilldawg

            Since you have never seen it, and television doesn’t televise from it, how in the world can you say if the practice facility, players’ lounge, locker rooms, trainers’ rooms and weight rooms are not on par with any other schools’?

            Since you have never seen the concourse and lobbies of Stegman, how do you know how it compares with other schools’?

            Hell, the Atlanta Hawks find the facilities nice enough to travel two hours round trip to have preseason camp at the Steg.

            Like

        • Chickamona

          I’d quibble a little bit with that. The practice facility attached to Stegman is very nice and still fairly new and that’s where players spend most of their time. I toured through there a few years ago and it was great. And they did upgrade the concourses at Stegman (which I get the counterargument that those upgrades were lipstick on a pig) but the place now looks like a less dated version of a spaceship. There are many college arenas that honestly aren’t any nicer including several of the ones in the SEC on par with Stegman. Coleman Coliseum in Bama, whatever Auburn’s arena is called, The Hump at MSU, even the O’Connell Center in Gainesville are all fairly pedestrian arenas without a ton of amenities.

          Heck, I went to UNC for one of my degrees and even the Dean Dome is, frankly, not a particularly nice facility (just really big) and is slated to eventually be replaced or vastly upgraded. I’ve seen two games at Cameron Indoor Stadium and that place is essentially an oversized high school gym which has just foam-padded bleachers in the rows closest to the court. But it’s special because the fans are amazing and they have one of greatest coaches and traditions ever (yuck.)

          TL:DR I don’t think it’s facilities that hold UGA back in basketball. Fan apathy, coaching, recruiting, image as a football only school. But not really facilities, at least not anymore.

          Like

          • charlottedawg

            Ditto on the tobacco road comments. There are some seats in the Dean Dome that straight up suck. Cameron is also the only arena for a D1 blue blood that i can think of where the baskets swing down from the ceiling.

            Like

            • gastr1

              This is only one reason, though. Fact of the matter is it only takes a couple of outstanding players to make a BB program relevant. Do we really think Butler and Gonzaga got to be relevant by having the best facilities? The lack of playing top competition is a major negative too for those schools. How does Iowa State, Kansas, or Creighton manage to stay competitive with the near-total lack of BB talent in their geographic areas?

              Point is, if you have a deficiency, it’s much easier to overcome it in basketball than in football. There really is no excuse that we’re not more competitive than we have been, because we have a lot of advantages to sell.

              Like

          • PTC DAWG

            Good comments

            Like

      • Gaskilldawg

        I read every blog post HeckWithTech has written, and no, he has not “forgotten” anything about the football season. He does not write about Georgia football. Georgia football is irrelevant to his blog.

        He does quite often write about the differences between the university’s, the fans and the media’s approach to Georgia football and Georgia basketball.

        His point was not whether UGA should wait to make a decision on Fox or not. A common theme of his has been how the Administration, media and fans have tried to apply football reasoning to a sport that is different from football on many levels.

        The comments in this thread prove his world view About UGA basketball.

        Like

      • lakedawg

        Guess Bradley and Shanks qualify for media members. Mostoftheir stuff generally negative towards Dawgs.

        Like

  3. Bill Shanks is a twit. Who cares what he thinks about anything?

    Like

  4. 3rdandGrantham

    CBB is the most overrated sport in the U.S. in terms of the attention/coverage it receives from the major networks, etc. compared to the actual ratings and widespread interest it garners. Outside of a very select few programs in the U.S., people really don’t give a rip about CBB until March Madness rolls around; and even then they only really care due to their tournament brackets and how they are faring in their office/blog/friends pool.

    ESPN CBB ratings during the regular season are minuscule. Even their Gameday for CBB on Saturday mornings barely moves the needle and is a far cry from the ratings Gameday gets for CFB. People just don’t talk much or care about CBB, thus is not like we’re some odd man out as a school/program that is apathetic overall.

    You know who the outlier is in all of this? That crazy UGA fan that can be seen frantically jumping up and down at the bottom of your TV screen at every home game going back quite a few years. God bless him for his unyielding commitment to UGA basketball, but boy he picked one hell of a program to give all his passion to.

    Like

    • Jeff Sanchez

      One-and-done has wreaked havoc on the college game. Not that I disagree with it, but that’s just the truth

      I’m in my 40’s and in the 80’s and early 90’s CFB was pretty big and pretty awesome.

      Like

      • 3rdandGrantham

        I agree. With 1 and done, fans never really get a chance to know the player or the team, given the constant change within the program. At least with cfb you have a chance to see a player play for 3-4 years.

        Some of the top CBB teams from the 80’s and 90’s you mentioned would absolutely destroy the top CBB team today. The same certainly can’t be said with CFB.

        Like

    • playmakers in space

      You hit the nail on the head here. I am not a huge basketball fan in general, but the college game is generally abysmal to watch (particularly in the SEC where the officiating is comically bad on a regular basis). The Ole Miss game we lost earlier this season at their place was a prime example.

      Like

  5. W Cobb Dawg

    I think T.V. coverage, the ncaa, our recent BB coaches, and the a.d. have combined to do a pretty effective job of making UGA BB inconsequential. Same as they’ve done with other sports. We’ve lowered expectations so much for most sports programs nobody really gives a damn.

    Like

  6. ASEF

    350+ teams playing 30+ games equals > 11,000 regular season games in order to winnow things down to a post-season featuring a 68 team championship tournament and two “bowl game” tournaments featuring an additional 64 teams.

    The worst position in this construction belongs to middle-of-the-pack P5 programs. You can’t be the big fish in your pond barring a lot of luck, making tournament selection difficult. That in turn kills recruiting. You’d much rather be Wichita State, with much better odds of winning your conference as well as fitting the cliche media profile of “Cinderella.”

    Until the sport is willing to cast off smaller conferences, the majority of your P5 programs are just playing the role of sparring partners for the Kentuckys and Dukes of the world. Who in the hell can get excited about that?

    Like

    • Normaltown Mike

      well said.

      The farce of the tournament is that it is the best 68 teams. It’s the best 25 or 30 teams and then a bunch of panty waists from worthless conferences.

      Like

    • JTP

      This tournament should be great this year. Probably about 15 teams with a legit shot of winning it.

      Like

  7. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    “Creating that element of controversy is clickbait during a time of the year that is rather dormant for Georgia Football…”

    Thought this was the most important quote in the post and but it doesn’t just apply to basketball. The Senator has long suggested that the AJC is not about the quality of the information as it is about the number of clicks. That’s as true for football as it is for basketball. It also appears to be true for all sorts of online media. I have a friend who submits stuff, more often politics but sometimes sports, to places like Yahoo and HuffPost among others. If they run something, they pay for it. He tells me he has learned that he is most likely to get paid if his article creates controversy. This seems to be the way media, and especially electronic media, has gone. Henry Grady must be rolling in his grave.

    Like

    • @Just Chuck: Consider the bonuses some of the writers receive for clicks on blogs. That explains a lot of the crap at the AJC. No pay raises just click bonuses at some papers.

      Like

      • Just Chuck (the other one)

        Bonuses like that don’t surprise me at all. More clicks = more advertising revenue. It usually comes down to money doesn’t it?

        Like

  8. Chi-town Dawg

    Senator, while I agree with your comments I think a lot of the fan “apathy” is driven by the poor results on the (non-football) fields. When I was at UGA, the Spring sports were extremely successful and very popular. I remember watching Michael Pernfors lead the men’s Tennis Team to their first National Championship, the Diamond Dawgs won their first CWS, the Lady Dawgs played in the national title game for woman’s basketball and the Gym Dawgs started their national championship streak. The football and men’s basketball teams were mediocre, but the other sports were racking up SEC and National titles, which created a tremendous amount of interest. As someone who donates money to all of the UGA sports funds, the thing I’ve been disappointed about is how BM has allowed the other sports to slide much like they did with football. While other SEC teams have been building new baseball stadiums and indoor practice facilities or have much nicer basketball arenas, we lag far behind in these areas and will continue to fall further behind in the results on the field as the other schools recruit better athletes. After being in the stands barking at the 1985 Men’s Tennis Championship, I was hooked and skipped class every year after that as a student to attend. After watching Bo Jackson hit 3 towering HR’s at Foley Field, I was hooked and went to baseball games after that. We have a hard enough time getting the students to fill up their sections at a football game and without any success to create excitement in the other sports, we continue to settle for average at best results in these sports.

    Like

    • Soccer Dawg

      Chi:

      You and I may be the same age. I was there for Pernfors win. I recall the Gym Dogs dynasty start. I was there for towering home runs that almost went in the Tennis Stadium. I enjoyed your post.

      Like

      • Chi-town Dawg

        Soccer, that hitting display by Bo Jackson at the first night game ever at Foley Field maybe the most impressive athletic performance I’ve ever seen in person. Three home runs with a double and I remember him scoring from first base on a single to the outfield. The HR that hit the centerfield light tower was right out of the movie The Natural and might still be orbiting the earth if it hadn’t ricocheted back into the outfield LOL.

        Like

        • Chi-town Dawg

          BTW, my favorite part was his last HR that he aimed at the fans in right field on Kudzu Hill because they’d been heckling him all game. Even for a UGA fan that was priceless. It was even better then the time when the Hill fans heckled Albert “Don’t Call me Joey” Belle so bad that he went on to the hill and had to be restrained.

          Like

          • Dawg Vegas

            I too was at that first night game, on the hill, watching Bo knock three HRs. You’re exactly right about the ball hitting the center-field lights, on the ascent I should add.

            You’re also right about how great the spring sports were back then. I was a freshman in spring of 1985.
            Good times celebrating at Steverinos, and Classic Subs on the deck, which was an easy stumble back to Russell Hall.

            Like

  9. UGA85

    We have a lot of room to improve in lots of areas, IMO. We should not be mediocre in basketball or baseball, based on geography. Look at SC, for instance. They have a championship caliber women’s basketball team, baseball team, and a rapidly improving men’s basketball team. The reason? Great coaches. With our resources and in state talent, we should be able to hire coaches that can recruit and develop Georgia’s talent. I don’t like an underachieving athletic department. Fan interest, I feel, would increase exponentially if level of play increased.

    Like

    • Chi-town Dawg

      +1000

      Like

    • Totally agree … our athletic program has been in decline for awhile and you can point to the administration as a reason. The are in a growth sector but seek are investing for yearly income.

      Given the proximity of our campus to the Metro Atlanta, it almost seems comically intentional to be tempering the expectations for all the sports in our athletic program. There is tremendous amount of youth talent and nationally recognized youth programs in football, basketball, baseball, soccer, softball, gymnastics, golf, tennis, track etc.

      Given the strides the school has made academically over the last 20-25 years, the media market, the population influx, our athletic program should be considered with a Texas, Michigan, Ohio State, UCLA, Florida, etc.

      Like

  10. AusDawg85

    We should fire Mark Fox after the conclusion of the SEC Tournament (even if he wins it) and hire a search committee a day before announcing we’ve hired the assistant coach at Kentucky who was about to be offered another job. #mcgaritywinningformula

    Like

  11. Skeptic Dawg

    College basketball as a whole has several major issues…The length of the season, the start of their season, the one and done rule etc. Additionally, Georgia basketball has made itself irrelevant. Mark Fox implements an offensive system that is plodding, slow, painful, and frustrating to watch to both fans and potential recruits. We have seen fellow “football” schools embrace hoops with a passion unseen in Athens, Florida and Tennessee jump to mind. Here is hoping for brighter days on the hardwood in the near future.

    Looking for a fun trip to Athens, catch the Dawgs at Foley Field for some great baseball action. The Dawgs took 2 out of 3 from Georgia Southern to open the season.

    Like

  12. Bright Idea

    The early Durham years, Tubby’s two and the Harrick years brought some excitement to bb and pretty good crowds. Donna Smith was like a hostess to everybody at home games. Of course the team had a chance in many games, now any win is kind of surprising. I totally agree with this blogger about the media and fans. I feel the same way about many of them in football. And don’t forget those who never pay attention that want to spend a gazillion on a new arena just to write a story about UGA committing to bb. The 68 team field and 1 and dones have kind of ruined college bb IMO also. If you watch on TV the announcers talk mostly about that instead of the players and the game on the court so casual viewers never identify with the team. As for Fox, same question as with Richt, who you gonna’ get?

    Like

  13. CB

    I haven’t analyzed Bradley and Towers with respect to the level of their overall coverage capabilities. A lot of these journalists tend to run together unless they stand out as particularly good (or bad for that matter).

    On that note, if any of you live in the Macon area, and have had the misfortune of tuning into 1670 in the afternoon then you would not be surprised that Shanks does a poor job covering UGA basketball because in reality he does a poor job covering all sports, especially Georgia football.

    Of course he spends plenty of airtime covering the football program, but his lack of general football knowledge is appalling. He has the logic and temperament of a 5th grader and often goes off on listeners who call in and make him sound like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This is a fairly regular occurrence from what I understand, but I never listen to the show unless it’s by mistake, or I’ve had a stressful day at work and I want to win an easy argument in a public forum. You just have to get your info out fast before he hangs up on you in a toddler’s rage.

    In summation, I can’t understand how a guy like that can actually make a decent living when he is so very bad at his job. How was he able to convince somebody to pay him to talk about sports?

    Like

    • Normaltown Mike

      oh, Bill has a greater reach than just Macon.

      During the baseball season, he makes a weekly appearance in Athens on 960 the ref morning show where he generally whines about the Braves, the Dawgs and everything else.

      He appears to think that being a malcontent is some great feat of intellectual discourse. He’s not as bad as Dan LeBatard, but is that saying much?

      Like

  14. CB

    I have two words for you with regards to a potential Mark Fox replacement.

    Jeff Capel

    I doubt he would come to Georgia, but I’d throw the house at him if I was McGarity.

    Like

    • Bright Idea

      I don’t keep up much but isn’t he waiting on K to retire?

      Like

      • CB

        He probably is. I don’t keep up much either, but it seems similar to the Kirby situation at Bama where it would take one heck on an opportunity to lure him away, and Georgia probably isn’t that.

        Like

      • Capel is not necessarily waiting on him to retire, but the prevailing wisdom is that he is current choice to replace Coach K if and when he retires. I heard on John Feinstein interview Capel last week and he essentially asked him the question of whether he would accept the job to take over for CMK. Capel deflected it but Feinstein said that his sources have told him that CMK gives most of the credit for Duke’s NC last year to the energy and coaching Capel has provided.

        I suspect Capel would be reluctant to take another job at big time football school. He was already at Oklahoma and they support basketball way more than we do. If he really is Duke’s choice he should probably stay there.

        Like

      • The Nelson Puppet

        Johnny Dawkins is the heir apparent to replace K. He went to Stanford to prove he could recruit and coach at a similar program.

        Like

  15. BulldogBen

    It’s not just McGarity. Our AD’s have NEVER truly given the basketball team the full weight of our athletic dept resources. We’ve been to TWO Sweet Sixteens in the HISTORY of the program. Hell, Florida almost has as many Sweet Sixteen appearances as we have TOURNEY appearances. It’s mind bogglingly unacceptable and the most frustrating thing is the AD’s seem to just accept it, decade after decade. Given our resources and the talent in the state, it should’ve be some fantasy that we make the tournament 3 out of 5 years and reach the Sweet 16 or better once or twice a decade. Should be an exciting time right now for UGA but after dropping 3 out of 4, we’re NIT bound (maybe). Rinse and repeat. It’s Year 7 and Fox and McGarity continue to sell the same form of Draino.

    Like

    • Normaltown Mike

      Good point. in the 15 years leading up to Fox, we had five different coaches.

      Now THAT was awesome.

      Like

    • Biggus Rickus

      This should have been a pretty good team building on last year’s tournament appearance, but it isn’t. Mann and Gaines, who should anchor the team, haven’t gotten any better than they were as sophomores. The general lack of player development in the program has been Fox’s biggest problem. If he can’t recruit top notch players, and he can’t develop the players he does get over four years, I don’t see much reason to retain him as a coach. I don’t need to see four more regular season games and a first or second round SEC tournament exit to know this year’s a bust.

      Like

  16. Semper Fi Dawg

    wow, who knew we had a bball team…maybe I should go look

    Like

  17. UGA85

    One additional frustration for me is that UGA majors in the minors. Equestrian, swimming, etc. should not be our only nationally competitive sports. Football and basketball should both be championship caliber, along maybe with women’s basketball and baseball. These high profile sports should set the bar for the others, not the other way around.

    Like

  18. Year in and year out, UF has top programs all across the board. One would think some of that would have rubbed off on the AD. Of course, trying to match Stanford is beyond tough—$$$$ and reputation.

    Like

  19. Dog in Fla

    @eethomaswfnc February 22, 2016 at 9:48 AM
    “UGA has never recruited well because of our facilities (especially the arena) demonstrate we don’t care institutionally about the program.”

    #oneflewoverthestegosaurusnestinthearena

    Like