At Butts-Mehre, better times are always just around the corner.

I had more than a few comments and questions sent my way yesterday after the Kupets-Carter hire was announced.

My thought?  This is the most remarkable hiring/firing decision of Greg McGarity’s career.  For one thing, there’s Kupets-Carter’s resume.

Courtney Kupets-Carter has, quite possibly, the most impressive competition resume of any collegiate gymnast ever, but until she was named the head coach of the most accomplished college program in history, she had not been a full-time coach anywhere at the college level. She has coached at the club level for Oconee Gymnastics and Cheer for one year, and she was a student assistant under Jay Clark in 2010. That’s it. That’s the resume. The rest of Kupets-Carter’s work history consists of broadcasting for the SEC Network and USA Gymnastics, and a stop as a performer at the La Reve show at the Wynn in Las Vegas. (Seriously.)

If you were at least somewhat taken aback by McGarity’s decision to hire a career assistant coach to replace Mark Richt, Kirby Smart’s resume reads like a college Hall of Famer’s compared to that.  Those aren’t the qualifications — at least I hope they’re not — of an athletic director’s first choice in finding someone to right the ship of a historically prominent gymnastics program, which is something that Suzanne Yoculan acknowledged at yesterday’s presser.

“I don’t know that anyone that’s at another school who’s a really great head coach wants to come to Georgia, where there’s a dynasty here. They want to create their own,” Yoculan said.

Speaking of Yoculan, there’s the second notable feature of yesterday’s announcement.  She’s the first hire of Kupets-Carter’s staff… as a “volunteer” coach.  (Insert your McGarity has to appreciate the cost savings crack here.  I already did.)  Again, Yoculan herself acknowledges how different that is.

… Yoculan believes she is the only former head coach in the country who will be working for no pay as an volunteer assistant. But it’s not a small role she’ll assume. And as anybody who knows anything about Yoculan will tell you, no role she fills is a small.

As a volunteer assistant, the 63-year-old Yoculan will be able to coach in the gym, which is something she’s relishing doing again. She will also be able to call recruits on the phone and she’ll be able to meet with recruits and their parents when they come to campus. Her only limitation is she won’t be able to go on the road recruiting.

“It was all her idea,” Yoculan insisted. “Honestly, I live here, I have plenty of days where I sit around and not do a lot. My primary focus is my family, but we’re going to work it out and work on the schedule together. It will be an unusual arrangement.”

Everyone should have a hobby.  But as a way to manage what is perceived as a major college sports program, that seems a bit, well, amateurish.  It also begs an obvious question about McGarity’s plan for a replacement after canning his second gymnastics coach in less than a decade.

… The only bigger splash he could have made would have been to hire Yoculan herself as the head coach. He did admit Tuesday that Yoculan was the first call he made when he turned his attention to this coaching search, but he insists it was for nothing more than advice.

“I asked her to help me,” McGarity said. “I asked her to provide me some advice. I ask her for advice a lot. But I wasn’t going to asked that question.”

Yoculan sort of hems and haws around that discussion. She finally admitted that “there was conversation of that,” but it’s not something she seriously considered.

What, no search firm?  That is the course of action of a man who is sadly out of options.

Hey, maybe this will all turn out fine.  Both Kupets-Carter and Yoculan sound confident about the future, and, as McGarity pointed out yesterday, Yoculan’s background when she was hired by Dooley was that of a local club gymnastics coach.  But there’s so much flakiness and out of the box thinking from a man who’s known for an almost complete absence of such an approach that it seems irrational to assume this is all sunshine and roses.

All of which brings me to what makes this decision so remarkable for me.  Look who was at yesterday’s presser.

Kupets was introduced at a press conference on Tuesday, also attended by Yoculan, UGA president Jere Morehead, board of regents member Don Leeburn…

Don Effing Leeburn?

With Leeburn’s public blessing, McGarity has all but proclaimed himself to be in formal ass-covering mode.  If hiring a 30-year old with no previous collegiate coaching experience works out, fine.  If it doesn’t, he’s made sure that he’s got all the right people buying in to his call.  He wouldn’t go down alone; in fact, the reality is that he’s insulated himself from going down at all.

It’s a smart way to keep your job.  As far as the athletic department goes, though, and excuse me if you’ve heard this before, it’s a helluva way to run a railroad.  At least you have to give these people credit for their consistency.

Kirby Smart sure better win big.  And soon.

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87 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

87 responses to “At Butts-Mehre, better times are always just around the corner.

  1. Jack Burton

    Why wouldn’t Leeburn be there? Yoculan is his lady.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aladawg

    And we laughed at Auburn and Bobby Lowder! Effing joke that Boss Hogg and Roscoe would be proud of.

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    • I want to believe Leeburn isn’t as powerful as Lowder was at Auburn, but I’m no so sure anymore. I think he just did a better job for a long time of keeping a low profile…aside from living with Suzanne while still married.

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      • Paul

        From the Red and Black in 2012 “Leebern has had an ongoing romantic relationship with former University head gymnastics coach, Suzanne Yoculan, despite the fact that he is legally married to another woman.” And, “Leebern used his iron-fist influence as a regent to help get Michael Adams the University president’s job when Adams was the least qualified of those considered for the position. And Leebern has helped Adams retain his job when he should have long ago been fired for any of a long list of reasons. Leebern also played a part in the forced retirement of University football coaching legend Vince Dooley as the school’s athletics director after Dooley reportedly refused to promote Yoculan to a high athletics administration post.” Need more? “Another conflict of interest involving Leebern that should not have happened is his son, Don Leebern III, being appointed to the University Athletics Association’s Board of Directors, and remaining such while his father has been a regent.” I’d say he’s every bit our Bobby Lowder. Maybe worse. We had to endure Michael Adams thanks to him. Here’s a link to that article in the Red and Black if you’re interested http://www.redandblack.com/opinion/leebern-jr-should-not-still-be-a-university-system-regent/article_e9ccca27-1122-5181-b8dd-c1668d4198b3.html

        Liked by 2 people

        • Otto

          Lowder at least has SEC titles and undefeated seasons to his credit. He made changes as he saw fit. I firmly believe Lowder wanted Borges gone and Auburn to move to the spread not Tubbs. The Franklin train wreck that followed was the result as well as the rise from the ashes with Malzahn/Chizik.

          Further in the article linked above:
          Leebern used his iron-fist influence as a regent to help get Michael Adams the University president’s job when Adams was the least qualified of those considered for the position. And Leebern has helped Adams retain his job when he should have long ago been fired for any of a long list of reasons. Leebern also played a part in the forced retirement of University football coaching legend Vince Dooley as the school’s athletics director after Dooley reportedly refused to promote Yoculan to a high athletics administration post.

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          • Macallanlover

            You are envious of Auburn? Seriously? I don’t care for Leeburn or Lowder, but I wouldn’t trade what Auburn has done with UGA…..not even close.

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        • Uglydawg

          Or just do a Wikipedia search on Suzanne. The whole schemuzal with the Don is right there for the world to read.. No mention of the firing of Damon Evans for getting fired for embarrassing the University with unacceptable sexual escapades, (not that I support Evans, but the hypocrisy is apparent. Wealthy folks with money and influence get a pass as usual..even when the whole world knows about it. I’ve got to wonder if Don was vocal or on-board about firing DE).

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          • Otto

            It also gets to follow the $$$ Leebern donates it, Evans was paid and easily replaced, especially when you can do it without a buyout (not that has stopped B-M from paying the buy out)

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        • 79DawgatWork

          Didn’t Don exchange fisticuffs with someone (another Athens BMOC if I remember correctly) in his driveway or close to his house a decade or so as well, about the time his “interest” in Yoculan was becoming publicly known?

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      • Dawgflan

        Don Leebern, a millionaire member of the state’s Board of Regents and an Adams’ ally, asked Dooley to make gymnastics coach Suzanne Yoculan an associate athletics director because the gymnastics coach at Alabama, a Yoculan rival, had a similar title. Dooley refused, and Barbara Dooley said in the book her husband’s decision to buck Leebern helped get Dooley pushed out as athletics director.

        http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/college/2009-03-31-georgia-adams-book_N.htm

        Liked by 2 people

      • I've Stopped Caring

        He’s as powerful and as detrimental as Lowder ever was and he gets there at a fraction of the cost!

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  3. Bright Idea

    Very unusual hire but you can bet this was all Yoculan and Leeberns call. With her shadow always looming over the program it was about all McGarity could do in reality. No established coach was coming to Georgia under the circumstances and this just might work. Nothing else was going to.

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    • This is why I chuckle every time someone insists the Georgia Way is a myth. It ain’t.

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      • gastr1

        Perhaps we should be happy that Leebern’s influence only extends to gymnastics these days? Or is he going to strong-arm McG on the inevitable basketball and baseball searches in the near future?

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      • Mayor

        Who said the Georgia Way is a myth? Best I can tell every person in the world who understands college athletics knows about the Georgia Way and that it is as real as global warming….wait….there are some who say global warming isn’t real. I guess they wouldn’t acknowledge the existence of the Georgia Way either.

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      • The Georgia Way

        Got this wrapped up in time to kick-off our private fundraising tour, where the real winning takes place.

        So get ready Texas, North Carolina, and Florida, we are taking this thing Nationwide.

        The Way is real and it is spectacular.

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      • Otto

        It isn’t and the UGA way isn’t just promoting from within, it is not defending players/team from the NCAA (AJ, Gurley), it is using the reserve fund as a way to justify not upgrading facilities and pursuing the best. The Georgia Way is underachieving and using the moral high ground as an excuse.

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    • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

      It’s like hiring Kirby and getting Saban as volunteer coach! 😉

      I kid, but it does sound little like Yoculan is the coach, teaching her assistant how to get it done. Durante was a ‘national search hire”, wasn’t she? How’d that work out? This hiring business is tricky, and it doesn’t matter if hire from within or make a national search. I hope she does well, but it’s too soon to condemn it or praise it.

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  4. F me. What was the snarky comment Donnan had about Leeburn? Anyone remember?

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  5. Jack Klompus

    This isn’t going to end well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Logan Booker is full of himself over this. Complaining about Georgia fans having concerns/questions/complaining. What a tool! I’ll see you 1 example of an inexperienced Yoculan with a long history of inexperienced coached NOT having a lot of success.

    This is a win/win for McG. Gets a cheap coach that brings excitement and most will ignore the inexperience because she’s a DGD! I’m not saying she can’t have success but being so indignant over people having concerns is so the Georgia Way. I bet she has a lot of fire. This whole thing reminds me people wanting to hire Hines Ward as HC. smh

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    • Logan Booker is a tool – end of story. He loves to talk sh*t about people who question the athletic department.

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      • The Dawg abides

        Who the hell is Logan Booker?

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          • HO. LEE. SH. IT.

            This might just be the greatest comment I’ve ever read. I had no idea it existed. Thank you… just, thank you.

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          • D.N. Nation

            Logan’s been a big-time Braves/SunTrust Park fluffer, makes all the sense in the world he was one of those START MASON OVER MURRAY hacks.

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            • The best part of that whole kerfuffle is that after he got called on it, he claimed he was just trolling everyone.

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              • 79DawgatWork

                I dunno, the best part is Bulldawg Illustrated trying to pretend they are some sort of “independent” news outlet. Baghdad Bob had more independence from Saddam than they have from B-M; in fact, I’m not sure why McG even bothered with “The First Word,” when he could just send everyone a copy of Bulldawg Illustrated instead…
                P.S. If anyone wants to know who got all the Notre Dame tickets, its all the people who have their pictures in the back of BI…

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                • Ricky McDurden

                  I’ll grab a Bulldawg Illustrated every now and again when I’m in Athens just to remember what life is supposed to be like (could I afford it) according to the in-crowd and the sunshine pumpers in and around BM. Always manages to temper my enthusiasm about Jeff Dantzler, too, who I think is a great baseball play by play guy.

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                  • Bulldog Joe

                    Or you meet them at the team hotel bar the night before a road game.

                    Like watching a game in a sky box, it’s not a fun crowd.

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          • Damn that was fun reading. Sorry to have missed that day. Crazy how you’ve jumped from 16 million views to 35 mil in the past few years. I think it’s obvious that you should be thanking Mr. Booker for starting the spike in readership.

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          • The Dawg abides

            Oh I remember all that. My question was more rhetorical. Like Bill Tobin asking “who the hell is Mel Kiper?”.

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          • Thanks for the link. I had no clue either.

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  7. 3rdandGrantham

    Well, if this hire doesn’t work out, I know a Cirque Du Soleil performer in Orlando who would be a perfect fit and would love a shot at the gig. Not only does she have amazing agility, but she spits fire from her mouth which surely will woo recruits.

    By the way, am I the only one bothered by hyphenated last names? IMO, either take your finance’s last name or simply keep you own, instead trying to have your cake and eat it too. It also somewhat tells me you have a hard time making tough decisions. {Assistant: “okay, Courtney, we have one scholly left to offer…are we going to offer Katie or Alexis?” Courtney: “Hmm…let’s offer both!” Assistant: Sigh.}

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    • barstool69

      Your second paragraph could be inserted into a Bleacher Report commentary word for word. Congrats.

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    • W Richard Dekle

      In re: 2nd para., what do the children do if they marry another hyphenated person? 4 last names? Their children?!?

      Like

    • Bulldog Joe

      Hey, Kupets is a cool name. It rhymes with puppets.

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      • Dawgy45

        Except that it is pronounced koo-PETS.
        Of course, you may know that and just found a clever way to comment on the role of puppets in the Georgia Way. In that case…kudos to you and carry on.

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        • Bulldog Joe

          Thanks Dawgy.

          No denying that puppettes also play a key role in The Georgia Way, but in today’s universities, the use of gender-specific nouns is strongly discouraged. 😉

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        • AusDawg85

          Wait…it’s not pronounced poo-PETS??! Sacre Bleu! Vive la France!!

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    • CB

      Pretty sure Courtney’s sister, Ashley (also a former gym dog) was in Circ du Soleil.

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  8. Given that you’d be hard pressed to find a more successful coach at UGA, in any sport, than Yoculan, why wouldn’t we take her counsel and trust that her recommendation is at least as good as any other by any other process or means?

    In 1988 Dooley made one recommendation for his replacement. The powers that be thought they knew better. Worked out great. Was that also the Georgia way?

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    • I hope you’re not comparing Russell’s or Sheridan’s resumes with Kupets-Carter’s and suggesting that they’re in any way similar.

      As far as your powers that be observation goes, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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      • The comparison was to Vince’s and Suzanne’s resumes. Both may know more about what it takes to be a successful coach in that position that a search committee or a search firm.

        The other point was that disregarding a prior successful coach’s recommendation can’t be the same as blindly accepting one or can it? It seems to me to be the polar opposite.

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      • Ricky McDurden

        You might also say “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”

        Sad how close to reality this song seems to be getting to my UGA fandom:

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  9. Athens Dog

    It would be easier if Leeburn or Bill Young just did all the press conferences.

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  10. The Georgia Way

    You are getting TWO head coaches for the price of one assistant with no money or effort expended on a search.

    What’s not to love here?

    #COMMITTOTHEG

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  11. The hire is as the Georgia Way as it gets. It was smart, though because she was a DGD so any concerns are totally unfounded. Any questions make you a bad fan.

    A multi-time NC program hiring a former S-A with zero HC experience and zero to very little coaching experience, period, seems destined for glory.

    Last night, I read a comment by some father who. said his gymnast 11 year old daughter now wants to go to UGA. I sometimes feel like I’m the only person who doesn’t make decisions based on emotion. I feel everyone around UGAA now hire and fire based on whether or not they have fire and whether or not they were DGDs. Maybe it’s just me but that doesn’t seem like a good way to run a business.

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  12. Scorpio Jones, III

    To me it is not that a new gymnastics coach was announced or that Yoculan was involved in the decision and will be involved in coaching the program, it was that, considering all the gnashing of teeth about Yoculan’s involvement with Don Leeburn over at least two decades, it was ok for Leeburn to be there, at the announcement, publicly supporting Yoculan.

    Who says we have not become more socially liberalized?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Listen, Senator, this is good for the Athens economy. If there’s anything I know about this hire, if you’ve been looking to invest in a downtown Athens establishment, it is time to invest in Buddha Bar.

    But, seriously, can it get more McGarity than this “arrangement?”

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    • Will (The Other One)

      I do cynically wonder if Leeburn likes how the Georgia Way stuff and disappointing football seasons have been driving us to drink, given his line of work and all…

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      • Servicestaff

        It would be better for business in if Don would come up with a decent home schedule to draw out of towners. Athenians drink our fill happy or sad.

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  14. None of this surprises me. The Georgia power couple picks most decorated athlete under wife’s coaching. Husband likely starts writing big checks to support the program. The Georgia Way wins again. I hope she is wildly successful and puts the Gym Dawgs back to our rightful place as the UCLA/Alabama of the gymnastics world.

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  15. 69Dawg

    Am I the only one that sees this as an old coach coming into mentor her most famous athlete in a new coaching job. What if Coach Dooley had GAS about Ray Goff and tried to help him not make the mistakes he made. Love her or hate her Yoculan was the most successful UGA coach of all time Swimming and Diving included. If she can guide Kupets-Carter to be a successful coach then we should be happy. Remember the Gym Dawgs used to fill the Coliseum when the basketball team couldn’t.

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    • Am I the only one that sees this as an old coach coming into mentor her most famous athlete in a new coaching job.

      Why are we settling for OJT for major athletic programs? Shouldn’t Georgia aspire for expecting something more than that from its hires?

      Liked by 3 people

    • Bulldog Joe

      True.

      It’s not like we let Kentucky’s basketball coach pick our next head coach.

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      • 81Dog

        I thought it was some 12 year old who wrote a plea for VD to hire Jirsa that sealed the deal. Kinda like middle school Amy Carter advising her dad the President on nuclear arms (per his comment during a debate in 1980), ended up about as well, too.

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  16. W Cobb Dawg

    After an exhaustive search of about 15 minutes, it’s my understanding McG settled on hiring former S&C coordinator Joe Tereshinski – who was the only other candidate interviewed. We should all be thankful Yoculan intervened.

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    • The Dawg abides

      Lol. I just pictured Joe T standing in the meeting room with his polyester coaches shorts jacked-up mid torso, red and black striped tube socks up to his knees, whistle around his neck, and showing the team a ’60s era feminine hygiene film on a 40 year old projector just before he puts the girls through tumbling drills.

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  17. Cojones

    My, my. And you didn’t even mention the problem Yoculan had with some of her athletes that was along religious lines.

    Besides her sterling career as gymnast for UGA, Kupets is also known nationally for the Best Female Athlete in the U.S. award, so there’s that for being known. I know – that isn’t a coaching credentials.

    The fact that Yoculan has taken center stage already in this hire is testament to why she has been gone from the UGA scene. I sincerely hope she can help right the ship working for Kupets and then turn loose, but mostly all our hopes go for the return to Gymnastics glory that was obtained in the past. That would be sweeter with Kupets in full charge if it happens, but that doesn’t mean we should turn down Yoculan’s offer. The question should be why she didn’t volunteer to help Clark earlier and especially when the program got into trouble.

    My biggest problem is trying not to think of Tenn’s problems after they fired the Big Pumpkin and how our problems are gathering speed downhill to emulate the scramble that became the direction of their Athletic Department. Politics on top of politics is not a recipe for our Athletics Dept and our University going forward. Public shaming of individual’s moral habits doesn’t touch my dipstick used for measuring how anyone may fare as a volunteer coach, but nepotism and a blind eye turned toward favoritism does.

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    • And you didn’t even mention the problem Yoculan had with some of her athletes that was along religious lines.

      Wasn’t that the cheerleading coach?

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      • 81Dog

        yes, I think that was Marylou Braswell, former UGA cheerleading coach (and former UGA cheerleader) who had the religion run in.

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  18. Dawgflan

    Did McGarity mention that any future initiatives related to coaching salaries would have to be donor-driven?

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  19. Chico Dawg

    My opinion of this hire seems rather elementary. I take nothing at face value from that place anymore…the hire serves both items that the AD holds close to his bosom when it comes to the non-revenue sports…1)stay complaint and 2) don’t let it spend any money that can’t be raised by donors Kupets-Carter-Blutarsky is a cheap hire with no need for significant investment into the program and if there needs to be investment, it will come from a donation and protect the reserve fund…seems like it checks the boxes that matter most.

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    • Bulldog Joe

      Saves money over the previous coach and sets the stage for another untouchable privately-funded employee at Butts-Mehre.

      A double-header win for the Georgia Way.

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  20. stoopnagle

    Name another state flagship with a president who doesn’t have a Ph.D. and/or a career beyond the campus s/he currently serves.

    Nothing surprises me anymore.

    We’re all just circling the drain anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Captain Obvious

    So the obvious choice to replace Kirby is with Herschel, using the Greg M model on this one.

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