The art of the deal

This isn’t a basketball blog and I’m not particularly concerned about Mark Fox’ fate in one form or fashion, but as a window into Greg McGarity’s soul, this Pat Forde story about where Georgia is at on who will be coaching the men’s basketball team after this season is revealing.

… However, a well-connected industry insider said flatly Monday night that the Ohio State job “is not going to open.”

There are no such assurances at Georgia, where Fox is trying to eke out a third NCAA tournament bid in eight seasons on the job. The Bulldogs are 18-13, 9-9 in the Southeastern Conference, and considered on the wrong side of the bubble heading into the SEC tournament.

Georgia has begun doing due diligence on potential replacements for Fox, with an emphasis on mid-major candidates. Among those considered likely to be on the school’s radar in event of an opening are North Carolina-Wilmington’s Kevin Keatts, East Tennessee State’s Steve Forbes, Chattanooga’s Matt McCall and Winthrop’s Pat Kelsey.

Keatts just secured a second straight NCAA bid Monday night, and Forbes’ team locked up a bid Monday as well. Kelsey’s team won the Big South tourney over the weekend. McCall took Chattanooga to the NCAA tournament last year, and as a former assistant to Billy Donovan could have an endorsement from someone who worked with Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity when McGarity was an assistant AD at Florida.

I don’t want to get all dead man walking here, but you don’t allow this kind of stuff to leak out to a national media outlet unless you want to.  It makes for a convenient way of letting a coach know he’s on extremely shaky ground without having to have one of those unpleasant face to face meetings about his status.

There are certain echoes between the fates of Fox and Richt, except that the latter, for whatever his shortcomings, enjoyed both a stronger national reputation and serious support among a large part of the fan base, which meant that McGarity had to play his cards closer to his vest to avoid any serious pushback in pulling the plug.  That’s not a concern for men’s basketball, of course.

Whether this is nothing more than a smoke screen to make the fan base think Georgia is seriously weighing the progress of the program under Fox, an attempt to flush out interest in the position in the coaching ranks or a legitimate first step in making a change, what’s interesting is two-fold:  one, that the news was allowed to leak out publicly and two, that there isn’t a Smart-like candidate who’s forcing the hiring process along.

In short, this is how Butts-Mehre rolls in normal circumstances.  Who knows?  Maybe this will be a time they get lucky.

*************************************************************************

UPDATE:  And here we go.

Oh, boy.  Greg McGarity in PR damage control mode.  This should go well.

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66 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

66 responses to “The art of the deal

  1. Aladawg

    Get lucky? Why, I’m sure he’s hiring a search firm so he can get the ” right” candidate!

    Like

  2. 81Dog

    “for whatever his shortcomings”…not to say CMR didn’t have any, or to reopen that particular wound, but the guy did win 2 SEC titles and had us in the SECC several other times, as recently as 2012. It’s not like his record and Mark Fox’s record are virtual twins.

    I have no strong feeling one way or the other about whether Coach Fox is retained, but I have zero confidence in the current AD’s ability to make a smart hire. Can anyone identify one homerun coaching hire he’s made since his arrival??? Or Damon, either, for his tenure.

    The problem may or may not be Fox, but it’s certainly a large part of the problem that UGA has been plagued with incompetents at the AD position for over 10 years now. Maybe we should fix that problem first.

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    • Gaskilldawg

      81, check out the names of the guys at the top of The J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics’s list. Dreaming big, isn’t he? You would think he wa planning to move to the Southern Conference and wanted a SoCon coaching star.

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      • 81Dog

        it’s not even that you can’t find a rising star at a smaller program. Wasn’t that theory on Coach Fox? He did well at Nevada, hardly a perennial power, surely he could do better at a place with more resources, right??? The problem is that our current AD has shown zero aptitude for identifying a rising star in a single hire he’s made to date.

        I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but Kirby Smart’s resume at this point is: Excellent recruiter, uneven game day coach. Perhaps he can pull his game day grade up to the level of his recruiting grade, perhaps not (we all WANT him to do that), but any honest analysis of this year’s team does not indicate he’s going to get there. He hasn’t proved he cant, but he hasn’t proved he can, either. At least they’re giving him things they never gave anyone else to work with.

        Could Coach Fox win more with the kind of support Roy Williams gets, or Bill Self, or Calipari gets? Beats me, but I know he isn’t anywhere close to getting anything close. Why would anyone think the next guy will do better with no other changes?

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  3. DugLite

    Bush league management.

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  4. Bulldog Joe

    My prediction:

    McCall will be the #1 target. He makes $232k a season and Greg will give him a raise to $300k (with incentives) once he finds a donor who cares enough about basketball to fund the remainder of Coach Fox’s $2M per year contract.

    Then he will cut the basketball budget to ensure those incentives are never paid out.

    Because this is how the weasel rolls.

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    • rpcpisme

      McCalls squad dissappeared the last 2-3 weeks of the season. Perhaps they caught wind of something we dont know yet. It was the type of collapse that did not help the case of a young coach hoping to move up the ladder.

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  5. Puffdawg

    Call me when they hire a search firm. Then we’ll know they are serious.

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  6. Athens Dog

    I’m a long time season ticket holder for both football and basketball. I feel for Fox. He doesn’t get a whole lot of support. That being said, I’ve never once been able to figure out his offense, especially his substitution patterns.

    After seven years with no relative success, it seems reasonable to me to try something different.

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    • Gaskilldawg

      I sort of agree and sort of disagree. It is reasonable to try to improve our coaching by hiring someone with more power conference success than Fox has had. However, recycling our current coach with a guy having the exact midmajor resume as him is the “something different ” that does not create a likelihood of being better.
      In other words, if we had an AD with a vision about how to win in at a top level, then great, make the move. We do not, and the “something different” may well be another Darrin Horn and we are worse off.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Normaltown Mike

      I recall when he was hired it was said that he ran a “triangle offense”…but to your point, I’m not sure I’ve seen anything that I could register as his signature style.

      It must be said, however, that Fox is infinitely improved on Felton. Felton’s offense seemed to focus on finding the least athletic power forward and putting him near the top of the key where the ball would work around until it came to this player and he would maneuver clumsily towards a jump shot or layup.

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  7. PTC DAWG

    Fox has had plenty of time. And as stated above, hasn’t approached the success CMR had here.

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  8. UGA85

    I realize I am in the distinct minority on this blog, but I don’t have a problem with how our AD fires and hires. Given the difficulties, I thought the CMR/CKS transition went well, with the bonus being that CMR is probably happier now than he has been in awhile. And for basketball, this approach puts pressure on CMF. If we make the tournament, this likely goes away; if not, the firing will be no surprise. So my problem is not GM’s methodology. My problem, thus far, has been his selections. CKS still is an unknown, but his other coaching hires have been questionable to me, the above list included. At some point, doesn’t UGA have to start winning at something? Why not go out and aggressively pursue a big name? Surely it’s not just my personal bias, but wouldn’t some great coaches be drooling over our recruiting base, location, campus, everything? We’ve got to get out of this chronic underachieving stuff. Our perpetual mediocrity makes absolutely no sense to me.

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  9. lakedawg

    Think Fox has won 20 games the past three seasons and a chance to again this year while using his best player last 5-6 games. He has had little support from the J Reid Parker director of Atheletics. Good luck with another cheaply hired mid- major coach.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. lakedawg

    Sorry, losing his best player.

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  11. I’m indifferent about Fox, but McCall at UTC is a stud. We could do a lot worse.

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  12. ASEF

    NCAA Basketball can be separated into Big Fish jobs and Small Fish jobs.

    Wichita State: Big Fish.
    Duke: Big Fish.
    Gonzaga: Big Fish

    Basically any job where you are likely to win your conference auto-bid or have enough brand equity to drive recruiting and get tournament committee benefit of the doubt.

    Small Fish jobs: all P5 gigs outside the blue blood programs.

    The SEC is Kentucky and a scrum of 13 programs fighting like dogs for 3-4:at large bids. 13 programs all spending millions per year on coaches and buyouts for fans who think getting an NCAA bid should happen better the 50% of the time. Just like 65 programs in other P5 conferences. All fighting each other, plus a couple of hundred non P5 programs, for 30 at large spots.

    This is why NCAA basketball is no longer s sport for most of the country.. It’s a 3 week spectacle.

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    • Chickamona

      I would note that Florida has more national titles in basketball since 2000 than Kentucky and the same number of Final Four and Elite Eight appearances over that same time period. And this with little to no basketball history prior to the 1990s and zero tournament appearances prior to 1987. It’s very hard, but another SEC stalwart can be built.

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  13. W Cobb Dawg

    If we were serious about improving any of the sports programs there would be leaks about the a.d. job opening up.

    Fox is his own worse enemy. If he could raise his game just a little he could be getting 23+ wins per year. Another example of a coach who absolutely fricken refuses to adjust or improve over time. Each new year is the same as the previous year, and the year before that.

    Perhaps we’d get lucky making a change, like the Tubby Smith hire. Seems to me their looking at guys who could be virtual clones of Fox, so what’s the sense of making a change.

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    • 81Dog

      the problem with Fox, to me, is the same problem that CMR faced. You expect someone to provide top 5 results with little or no support (compared to what top 5 programs get). The Georgia Way seems to be do it as cheaply as possible and then complain about the results. While GmcG seems to have loosened the wallet a tad for Kirby, my question would be why he didn’t loosen it (or Damon didn’t loosen it) 10 plus years ago. You cant expect Saban like results in a sport if you aren’t willing to provide Saban quality support. I’m not sure Nick could succeed at UGA the way he has elsewhere because of this. Basketball gets very little compared to schools that take hoops seriously. I’m not sure replacing Fox, especially given who they are likely to replace him with, would do anything but extend the “give him a few years to get his guys” approach, similar to what we hear now about Kirby.

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  14. AusDawg85

    When Pruitt came to coach D I seem to recall a lot of talk about top to bottom review and examination of what it took to get to the next level of play for SEC championships and CFP inclusion. He created a lot of waves, especially about the IPF, which is an understatement. I believe we won 10 games both seasons.

    I’ve not seen nor heard any such commitment for our other programs. I like Mark Fox, wish he was doing better, represents the University well (man, that all sounds like a familiar song…)…but I see no commitment of support to elevate UGA Basketball. I am not convinced the blame lays solely with the HC, but if change is going to be made, then they type of “all in” commitment needs to be made. With the Senator’s update from McG, that seems less likely to happen, although declarations like that are usually the kiss of death.

    I am really sick and tired of UGA being a bit player in SEC athletics. Can’t understand why our power brokers don’t feel the same way. Guess I’ll give it another 30 years before I really give up!

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  15. Otto

    Well that just killed Fox’s program. Way to go B-M. UGA will never be the basketball program it could be until the Stege is replaced. The basketball program needs a complete essentially rebranding. Fox has done everything I could reasonably expect a coach to do given the atmosphere of B-M.

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    • HVL Dawg

      UGA will never be the basketball program it could be until the Steg is replaced?

      I guess Duke will never never be the basketball program it could be until the Cameron is replaced.

      The Steg is infinitely nicer better the Cameron.

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      • Bob

        Duke has 50 years of great basketball TRADITION in a conference that has historically only cared about basketball. Duke has a huge neighbor with a tradition of the same magnitude. Duke could play in the Tucker High gym and still have that going for them…having one of the greatest coaches ever doesn’t hurt either.

        The Steg should have been replaced years ago. I believe it is the second oldest in the conference and has zilch for home court advantage. It is like Foley Field. This AD is penny wise and pound foolish. We have some of the sorriest facilities in the SEC, which is disgraceful given our resources. Mark Fox has had challenges recruiting in a recruiting rich state. Some of it is fault. A lot of it isn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Chickamona

          I think you made the opposite point from what you meant to make. Duke could play in a high school gym (they kind of do) and be successful. And the Dean Dome is a very dated building but UNC has still won three national titles there. So, arenas aren’t really the issue. Ole Miss, Georgia Tech and Auburn all have new arenas and have zero NCAA appearances since they built them. You are correct that it’s tradition and coaching that matters, not arenas.

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          • Otto

            If you don’t have tradition. You better show recruits you are serious about changing that.

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            • Chickamona

              Which is why we have a $30 million practice facility built in 2007 that even the Hawks use for a week a year. That’s where the team spends its time and has its day-to-day locker room. Recruits don’t inspect club seats and concession stands or sight lines from the upper deck. Most of their judgement of an arena is “how loud is this place? Do fans show up?” Having a coach who can run a coherent offense and finish close games would do more than replacing a functional arena. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s not what holds us back.

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      • Cameron is the Fenway, Wrigley or Lambeau of college basketball. I’ve been to a game there, and the place just drips in history and tradition. If the Steg drips in anything, it would be rain water from the roof after a flood on South Campus. It’s a terrible facility that speaks volumes for our support of hoops when basketball recruits come on campus for a game to see the facility with half the seats empty.

        A new facility will not solve all of the problems of Georgia basketball, but it would at least demonstrate we’re committed to winning at the highest level.

        How did Florida do it? They hired the right young coach, turned him loose on the recruiting trail, played a fun brand of 90-foot basketball, and then committed to him long-term when success followed. Does ADGM have the vision to do that unless someone is willing to step up and write the checks?

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        • Otto

          Agreed, we seem to be on close to the same page.

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        • Otto

          I will also add football recruits have been shown basketball games at the Stege.

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          • Yes, but they know the commitment of Georgia to football vs. basketball. I remember sitting in the student section at the Coliseum when Garrison Hearst and Andre Hastings went to a basketball game on their official visits. The crowd chanted their names during a couple of TV timeouts. Hearst was already committed to the G, and I think that day went a long way to convincing Hastings to sign with UGA.

            The problem is the arena makes it very clear to hoops recruits that basketball season is the time between football and spring football in Athens.

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    • The Steg isnt going anywhere. But the refurbish should have been done a whole lot better. Its like we dont know how to do a contract bid and then a punch list.

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      • Normaltown Mike

        what else should we have done?

        I think the glass on the north and south facade is excellent. It’s lipstick on a pig but pretty well obscures the pig.

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        • the glass had sealant issues the first year. Several other items werent done right. It was a poor contractor.

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          • Normaltown Mike

            gotcha. I think the ascetics is pretty good. In fact, It’d be nice if they created some western addition or ticket office to further obscure that facade.

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  16. CannonDawg

    Maybe Jere Morehead should leak a few names. My suggestion would be to take a hard look at Matt Stinchcomb. He’s smart, he has a solid background as an athlete, he knows the SEC, and he has business experience. That he doesn’t have experience in an AD shop wouldn’t bother me–what did that experience gain Evans and McG? I don’t know Matt personally, but my impression is that he would be an excellent, no-nonsense leader. He has some on-camera skills from his analyst
    role, and he’s a good communicator. I’d feel good with Matt on the bridge.

    That’s my $.02 worth.

    Like

    • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

      Both the Stinchcombs weren’t just football players, either. They have smarts, and probably more important, a work ethic and some self-discipline. I like the idea. When I hear him express opinions on TV they are well thought out, and he often admits he has a UGA bias and tries to sift through that in his analysis. I suspect he is probably being paid enough where he is now, but not so much it couldn’t be matched.

      The real problem is that I don’t get the impression that the AA board is dissatisfied with ADGM. I’m afraid it’s more of a pipe dream than reality.

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  17. DawgPhan

    Fox has been fairly success in the context of UGA basketball.

    He hasnt been as successful as he should have been, maybe. All those close games from this season hurt.

    I have no confience that our current AD is capable of making a quality hire.

    I dont think that anyone in the BM actually knows what it takes to run a successful athletic department.

    Like

  18. Normaltown Mike

    When Mark Gottfried was let go at NC State, I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d be better off getting a SEC retread that has proven to be more successful than us when he was here, instead of chasing “the next XXXX” from a mid-major as we’ve been doing for over 20 years now (with the exception of the time we got “the next Tarkanian”).

    Like

    • Bulldog Joe

      Not happening.

      Knowing Pruitt’s personality clash with The Georgia Way, Gottfried’s would be worse.

      Like

  19. Greg "Howdy Doody" McGarity

    Everything’s fine. The truth is that we’re happy with the way we do things at UGA.

    Don’t forget to send in that football ticket money this month. And it’s never too early to start thinking about your 2018 Hartman Fund donation.

    Like

  20. rpcpisme

    I dont think Fox will be let go this year. However, if he were to be let go, I think the hire would be Steve Forbes of ETSU. Former Pearl assistant, so there could be some slime to him. Uses transfers and JUCOs but has one of the best young recruiters in the game on his staff. I think Forbes could crack the Atlanta riddle that has bothered UGA for years.

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  21. Cousin Eddie

    Either swing for the fences and get the best guy available (or make them available) or keep your mouth shut and stay with what you have.

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    • Our AD doesn’t roll with that. Regardless of what you believe Kirby will do, he was not the best candidate for the job when it opened. We were consistently reminded that top tier candidates would beat the door down to coach in Athens if we would just have the vision to fire the previous guy. Clearly, the AD has no stomach for making a big name available.

      After saying that, I want Kirby to be wildly successful to the point where Alabama makes overtures when Saban retires because that means we likely have a trophy on the mantle.

      Like

  22. hooper

    At what point does it become impossible for us to hire any coach in any sport who has a large upside? Use our baseball coach as an example. Very highly though of in the college baseball world, HS coaches think he’s the real deal, and in travel ball circles you’ll hear of the lack of support he was promised when he took the job. If all this is true, then how would firing this coach, or the coach of any sports program for that matter make any difference?

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    • If Stricklin wasn’t given what he was promised, shame on the AD for selling the guy and not delivering. Also, shame on Stricklin for not being willing to leave and let everyone know the commitments that haven’t been delivered to the baseball program on his way out.

      Like

  23. Bob

    We are hanging in there with mighty Xavier this afternoon, only down 2 midway. Oh wait…this isn’t basketball?

    Like

  24. When Landers retired(?), I always thought, go after a big name women’s coach and get over that hump, that Landers was close to. Hell, I would have gone to UConn and asked their coach-what do you want?
    Nope just another regular hire.

    Like

  25. The Georgia Way

    Our ‘winning’ formula:

    Hire entry-level coaches at cut-rate.
    If they win, raise minimum contribution levels, ticket and concession prices, and cut their operating budgets until they lose.
    When they lose, find a donor upset enough to cover the separation costs and re-execute step one, clearing even more money to be used by the University.

    This is the Georgia Way.

    Like