That’s my NCAA!
Monthly Archives: March 2016
Maybe Kirby Smart can chime in with a “We’ll handle it. And it’s going to be a big deal.” about this.
If that doesn’t work, they can always try going back to the General Assembly again. Gotta keep that playing field level, boys.
I thought I was done posting about the Open Records law change, but then Tony Barnhart (“Are you $%^&* kidding me?” No, really!) pulled me back in.
June 20, 2017 – 8:30 AM EDT
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — In a stunning turn of events, the University of Georgia ended Stanford University’s 22-year stranglehold on the NACDA Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup by storming into a first-place finish, fueled by national championships in eight different sports over the past year.
Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity credits the origin of the unprecedented surge to a change in the state’s Open Records law passed at the end of the 2016 legislative session.
“When it came to hiring and firing coaches, plenty of folks thought I couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag with one end open,” McGarity said with a chuckle. “The reality was that having to acknowledge an open records request in three days was crippling our ability to compete. Now that the shackles have been removed, there’s really no ceiling on what Georgia athletics can accomplish.”
The facts appear to bear McGarity out on that. Georgia’s baseball team, which had been mired in mediocrity for several years, never lost another game in 2016 after Governor Nathan Deal, wearing a Georgia cap and woofing, signed the bill into law. Several other sports at the school took off in similar fashion, being capped by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams crashing their respective Final Fours and winning 2017 national titles.
Ironically, given that he was the only person at the school willing to acknowledge any contact with Georgia lawmakers about the bill, head football coach Kirby Smart was one of the rare coaches who did not bring a national championship trophy back to Athens, as Georgia was upset by Houston in the semi-finals of the college football playoff.
However, Georgia fans aren’t holding that against Smart, as the Dawgs have signed what is widely acknowledged to be the nation’s best recruiting class this season, capped by inking all but one of the top ten high school players in the country. (That one player, Eureka, California’s Tony Brown, had a mother who wasn’t impressed with Georgia’s sales pitch: “Kirby kept talking about this Open Records law thing like it was some big deal. I kept telling him I didn’t see how that would help me get to see my boy play football every weekend.”)
Naturally, Georgia’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed. Asked about the rash of changes to other Southern states’ Open Records laws passed in response – most notably Alabama’s, where the standard of within a reasonable amount of time has been replaced by “whenever Coach Saban feels like it” – McGarity acknowledged a concern. “For us, it’s about a level playing field. It’s something we’ll ask Commissioner Sankey to address at next year’s spring meeting. If that doesn’t work, then we may have to look at other options.”
Are there any other future legislative changes in store to help keep the Bulldogs on top? “I could tell you about those, but then I’d have to have Jimmy Williamson arrest you,” he answered. “No, seriously,” he continued when he saw this reporter smile.
There are certain deep philosophical questions I realize I’ll never get the answers to… like why does Greg McGarity continue to speak with the press?
Here’s the entirety of yesterday’s Q & A session about the change to Georgia’s Open Records law. Keep in mind as you read it, that McGarity’s had a week to prepare his answers.
Kirby (Smart) didn’t want to answer the question last night, but how does the Open Records amendment benefit the football program?
McGarity: “Oh, I’d let Kirby address that, I mean I thought he did that yesterday. My only comment on the FOI is that it gives us a chance administratively – I like it because it gives us a chance to respond in a timely manner. We’ve had close to 100 FOI requests since Dec. 1. And it’s not just you guys in the room that are making these requests, I mean they come from everywhere. And it’s not just, ‘I need this bit of information.’ They’re very lengthy and it takes a lot of time just to estimate the time and effort it takes for those people who are doing their regular job, not necessarily to stop everything to provide this information. And some of that stuff has to be done after hours. Because it’s not like we have staff that are sitting idly by just to deal with this.”
Couldn’t you, with the budget you have and the money coming in, afford to have an Open Records manager to handle that kind of stuff full time?
McGarity: “Sure, there are so many ideas that people have out there. I just know that right now with the way we operate, it’s taxing to a lot of people.”
But there is no other state in the SEC footprint that has it less than 15 days.
McGarity: Oh I don’t know, you would have to do the research.
Why would you all need 90 when no one else needs more than 15?
McGarity: “That’s what is in the legislation, or as I understand it, that’s what’s before in the legislative process right now.
Is that the number (UGA) suggested?
McGarity: “There’s no suggestion on our part.”
It just appears to be a lack of transparency if this is passed.
McGarity: “Kirby -”
Something could be percolating for three months and not see the public light of day.
McGarity: “I have expressed myself to you all on numerous times on how it affects how you have to operate. Even things from facility development to drafts of contracts, I’m very process-orientated person as far as notification, approval. We have to operate in that world now. But as I’ve told y’all several times, if it’s draft of contracts, it has to operate in another stratosphere because otherwise it would have to be another open record for you. It just makes our job difficult just to handle just our normal business. To where we can’t work as effectively as we could dealing with everything from facility development to drafts of contracts. It makes our job that much more difficult. That’s why I think it’s helpful administratively for all the institutions that are involved in this.”
How aware (of the bill) were you and the administration before the fact?
McGarity: “I’ve made my statement on that. That’s all I need to do on that.”
Well it obviously came out of Georgia. That’s what –
McGarity: “Kirby addressed that yesterday.”
Well he really didn’t when it got down to it.
McGarity: “He addressed it yesterday and his comments will certainly stand on its own.”
Do you worry that today it’s athletic associations, and later on this policy might spread to other areas of government?
McGarity: “I don’t know. I’m just focused on our world right now.”
Oh, brother. Not a word in there about recruiting. No acknowledgement that anyone at the school other than Kirby Smart had a hand in lobbying for a bill that benefits Greg McGarity more than any other public employee in the state (other than his peers at other state schools’ athletic departments). And even his whining about contracts doesn’t make any sense, since that’s the one area exempted from the expansion of the new time frame.
Now let’s get one thing straight here. McGarity and Smart wanted something and asked for it. There’s certainly no great crime in that. You can’t blame them for Georgia’s General Assembly being brain dead. But, man, if I were a legislator reading that exchange, I’d surely be ticked off that the AD didn’t even care enough to bother to keep everyone’s story straight.
Maybe next year Kirby can go back to them and suggest a bill that would prohibit state public school athletic directors from speaking with the media. It couldn’t hurt recruiting, could it?
I’ll be the first to say that anything has to be an improvement over the mess that was Georgia’ offense over the second half of last season, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see this quote and react with a certain amount of trepidation.
The first few weeks of spring practice are the most critical for offense installation, which Smart said is now finished. While sophomore tailback Sony Michel said that there were aspects of previous offenses that he can bring to Chaney’s offense, he added that it’s the most complex of the three offenses he has dealt with in his three-year career.[Emphasis added.]
“It’s almost like classwork,” Michel said. “You’ve got to actually sit down and study (the playbook). Some of the past playbooks, it was kind of easier that you could kind of put things together, but this playbook, you’ve got to actually study it and dissect it a little bit.”
Oh, Gawd. I hope we’re not continuing to look back fondly on Mike Bobo’s box of crayons a year from now.
Remember, there are people out there who will argue with a straight face that the current NCAA transfer policies are for the benefit of the kids.
Kirby Smart acknowledged Tuesday that he was indeed asked about Georgia’s Open Records laws when he visited the state capitol recently. But Georgia’s new head football coach said he “doesn’t deserve credit” for a controversial measure that slows the public’s access to athletics information.
The bill, brought up and agreed to late on the night of March 22, would allow athletics programs in the state of Georgia to wait 90 days to respond to inquiries under the Open Records Law. That has been decried by First Amendment advocates.
The chief of staff to one of the bill’s co-sponsors, State Sen. Bill Cowsert, told the Macon Telegraph that it “came to light through Kirby Smart at UGA.”
Smart was asked about that after Tuesday’s practice.
“First of all, I shouldn’t get any credit for that,” Smart said. “When I went over to the capitol I was asked what’s the difference in our program and some programs I’ve been at in the past. One of the things I brought up, there’s a difference. And that was the extent of my conversation with those guys about that.
“So for me to get the credit for that is a little bit misleading.”
“Credit”? I’d say that word doesn’t mean what Kirby Smart thinks it means, except I think he does know. Exactly. Which is why he declined to elaborate further when asked.
Smart declined a follow-up question on whether he felt changing the response time from three days to 90 was something the football program needs.
“I’ll be honest with you. I want to talk about our football program, and football practice,” Smart said. “That has nothing to do with as far as our practice today. I would rather answer questions regarding that. Appreciate it.”
Kirby is far from alone in wishing to avoid taking credit.
Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity, who has declined comment on the legislation, attended Smart’s press conference on Tuesday but left as soon as it ended. It’s rare for McGarity to attend such post-practice press conferences.
UGA president Jere Morehead “did not have a role in the legislation,” according to a spokesman in the University System Office in Atlanta.
I’m having trouble adjusting to McGarity as the strong, silent type. Maybe Mark Bradley can get him to open up.
Anyway, here’s another story.
A House amendment to Senate Bill 323 was agreed upon and passed with the underlying bill last week, a little past midnight on March 23, which will allow for state athletics departments to delay open records requests for 90 days as opposed to three, which is what the law currently states.
Smart was asked what he told legislators on his involvement on getting this amendment through the General Assembly. Smart deferred credit but did say he spoke to lawmakers as to what could be done to help improve the Georgia football program…
With his response, Smart admitted he had a private conversation on the subject with the Georgia legislature. Prior to Smart being questioned about his role with the potential new law, which has been sent to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk for a signature, Tom Krause, the Chief of Staff of state Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, said Smart was the key influence to members of the General Assembly deciding to act.
“It’s a similar subject that, from what I understand, came to light through Kirby Smart at UGA,” Krause said. “It had to do with football teams or athletic departments that are recruiting people in state of Georgia. They had a (shorter) window where the documents were not yet public, but other states had 90 days.”
So, ultimately, here’s what you’re being asked to swallow here:
- In the midst of recruiting, organizing the program and his very first spring practice preparation, Kirby Smart somehow found the time to show up for a friendly chat with the folks in the Georgia General Assembly.
- In the midst of a typically contentious session, members of the Georgia General Assembly found the time to ask what could be done to help the Georgia football program.
- Kirby Smart casually mentioned that Nick Saban has an easier time of responding to open records requests but didn’t make a big deal of it, even though he’s described as “the key influence to members of the General Assembly deciding to act”.
- Just as casually, Georgia legislators tacked an amendment on to an existing bill that gives Butts-Mehre unprecedented scope in responding to open records requests in the future.
- Even though the bill’s scope clearly exceeds the stated nonsensical goal of protecting recruiting secrets, neither Georgia’s athletic director nor its president had anything to do with it.
I’ll buy number two on that list, but the rest requires a leap of faith I’m not capable of taking. Before Kirby Smart ever showed up to glad hand, or whatever you want to call it, somebody laid the groundwork and found a representative or two willing to carry the athletic department’s water. Somebody told Kirby Smart what he could expect on his visit. And whoever that somebody is was shrewd enough to hide the proposal behind Kirby Smart’s honeymoon and the annoying fanboy concern about Georgia’s recruiting against Smart’s old boss.
That’s some effective lobbying there. So why not step up and take credit for it, especially since Kirby sounds like he’s more than willing to share? You don’t have to be so modest, mystery man. If it’s all about recruiting, what citizen of this great state could possibly object, right?
Well, this is right neighborly.
Of course, all that may have done was give ol’ Jimmy the chance to do a little proactive sizing up of potential arrest targets.
I wonder if, while he was there, anyone gave him a player roster with everyone’s middle names on it. Might save some time in the future.
UPDATE: Never let it be said I don’t pay attention to my readers.
Feel free to jump in, peeps.
It’s the makings of a banner year for the SEC.
For first time since 2011 when arrestnation.com began tracking the arrests of pro and college coaches and athletes, the number of SEC football arrests is in single digits through the first three months of a calendar year.
If the 14 SEC schools can keep their players busy through Thursday, which is the end of the month, the league will have just seven football arrests through January, February and March.
My first thought after reading that was “there’s an arrestnation.com?”. Yes, Virginia, there is!
My second was that’s the kind of trend that’ll put a damper on Second Chance U’s recruiting.
But it’s the historical stuff that’s the real fun.
Florida, which has won or tied for the annual SEC arrests title three times in the last five years including last season, remains the arrestnation.com SEC all-time leader with 28.
Eighteen of those arrests are came under the watch of former coach Will Muschamp, now at South Carolina, where former Gamecocks’ coach Steve Spurrier ran the second least arrested program in the league (nine arrests).
To be fair to Muschamp, he inherited a hot mess since previous coach Urban Meyer had 25 players arrested in six years.
Since arrestnation.com was not in operation yet during Meyer’s tenure as the Gators’ warden, the official all-time individual SEC coaching arrests leader is former Georgia coach Mark Richt. The Bulldogs, second in the all-time standings at 23 thanks to the first player arrested under new coach Kirby Smart, had 22 players arrested under Richt. He has since taken his disciplinarian talents to South Beach as Miami’s new coach.
Well, we always knew those lost control memes don’t grow themselves.
Ole Miss, with 11 arrests the last two seasons, has moved into third at 22, just ahead of Texas A&M with 21, Tennessee 20, Alabama 19 and Missouri and Kentucky each with 18. LSU is next, followed by Arkansas 15, Mississippi State 14, Auburn 13, South Carolina 9 and Vanderbilt 3.
The active SEC coaching arrests leader is Alabama’s Nick Saban at 19, including a league-high 17 in the last three seasons.
Hmmm… in the SEC, maybe arrests have something in common with penalties. Neither seems to have much correlation with wins and losses.