Winning with the “conscience of the SEC”

This is quintessential Georgia Way stuff right here:

Tucker, the Board of Regents member, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his freshman year at UGA. He spoke to USA Today before the 2015 Alabama game about Georgia football trying to do things the right way.

Two years later, Tucker said nothing has changed from his perspective. He’s supportive of Smart but also still supportive of what UGA says its athletics mission should be: Recruit high-character athletes who “have the academic wherewithal to succeed” at UGA. From what he can tell, Smart is doing a good job with that.

“I don’t think anybody that I know of, who’s been in any leadership position in the university system or the University of Georgia, is saying, ‘Let’s water down anything,’ ” Tucker said. “Let’s get the best people we can to fit our student-athlete role at Georgia. It appears we’re doing that. Now whether we’re successful remains to be seen.”

Tucker also supported the upgrade in facilities.

“We were sort of lagging behind our other conference competitors, relative to the indoor facility, which has been planned and talked about for a long time. It’s finally a reality,” Tucker said. “And this west end zone project is needed. The athletic association is doing a great job of raising money and spending money to spend for its student-athletes. …

“Our facilities haven’t always maintained pace with our aspirations. And now they have.”

NeSmith, the former Board of Regents chairman, said two years ago that he didn’t want UGA to “sell its soul” to win championships. He hasn’t changed his tune, either, but seems glad the spending has increased.

“Like it or not, big-time college football is an all-out arms race. The over-the-top spending is just part of the game,” NeSmith wrote in an email. “I have been a Kirby Smart fan before he was named the Bulldogs head coach. As a Georgia alum, I want two things: 1) Win more championships. 2) UGA to be a leader by setting an example of how to win the right way, with honor. Go, Dawgs!”

They know they want everything.  They just don’t have the first clue about how to get it done, bless their hearts.  And these aren’t the guys sitting in the stands behind you on game day, bitching about Mike Bobo.  They’re Regents!  These are supposedly the people who give Morehead and McGarity their marching orders about the football program.

So where were they back when this was happening?

As Jeremy Pruitt prepared for the moment that would shake up UGA athletics, he knew what he was about to do. Georgia’s football team had just conducted a half-hearted practice in its half-baked indoor facility, dodging windows and walls in the process, and Pruitt was exasperated.

It was the week of Georgia’s game against Georgia Tech, three seasons ago. Pruitt, the defensive coordinator at the time, normally was reluctant to speak to the media. But this time he walked out with a purpose.

“This is gonna be the last team [that Georgia doesn’t have a real indoor facility] because those guys upstairs, they’re serious,” Pruitt said. “They’re trying to figure out the fastest way they can get us one. And as soon as they can figure out how it can be done, they’re gonna be doing it. And I want the recruits to know that they’re not gonna suffer because of it.”

The only problem was it wasn’t quite true. A design study had been approved a few months earlier to “explore” building a real, full-length facility, and an architect had been hired. But things were not going to move as fast as Pruitt said.

Three years later, Georgia officials bristle at the idea that Pruitt was the one who got the $30.2 million indoor facility built. Indeed, the long-sought building would have arrived eventually either way, they say.

Yeah, sure.

Georgia broke ground for the indoor facility shortly after Smart was hired, becoming the last in the SEC to get one. So in that way, the thinking already had begun to change at UGA. As recently as December 2013, athletics director Greg McGarity had expressed ambivalence about building an indoor facility.

McGarity declined comment for this story. In an interview in December 2013, he said:

“You can count on your hands how many times we would have needed it this year. You can probably count it on one hand. Two days against Tech. Probably the first day of bowl practice. So that’s a significant investment for something that is used infrequently.”

That contrasted with a coaching staff that believed it would use one a lot more. Then-assistant coach Mike Ekeler said in late 2014: “I mean, it’s crazy. It’s amazing we don’t have one. It’s absolutely crazy. It’s absurd.”

Nah.  It’s just the Georgia Way.

Which brings us to a couple of Frank Ros quotes…

Frank Ros, a member of the 1980 national championship team, is a successful businessman and donor to UGA athletics. Ros said UGA has the basics in place – a great alumni base, recruiting base, the right athletes and a “strong” administration – to succeed.

“You’ve got to be who you are,” Ros said. “But, at the end of the day, there’s no reason why the University of Georgia can’t compete for the national championship in all sports every year.”

Ros, whose son was a football recruit, said he once met with Saban. From that conversation, his takeaway was this: Saban knew what he wanted and was going to make sure he got it.

“I think Kirby learned that and understands that you have to advocate on behalf of what you want, in a way that is convincing to the administration,” Ros said. “And I think you’re seeing some of that happening now.”

“I’m one of those who, yeah, you look at your competition, but you don’t let them determine what you do,” Ros said. “You better have a strategic plan, and you better have goals and aspirations, and you work toward those. … You set your own road map. And, you know, Georgia has been very successful. Now what’s happened is Alabama has been extraordinarily successful. …

“Mark did a great job. Now Kirby is pushing the envelope, making sure that we continue to evolve as an athletic department and football program. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this year.”

The Regents’ “strategic plan” amounts to win big and win clean, with a dash of Alabama-envy tossed in for flavor.  The administration’s plan is to write checks for whatever they can convince the boosters to pay for.  Combine them both, and you get Fran Tarkenton.

Tarkenton was asked if he thought the administration was supportive enough.

“I think it is, but if the alumni base doesn’t get off our collective asses and give money to this program and support this program, then we won’t compete against Alabama,” Tarkenton said. “To compete against Alabama, we’ve got to give Kirby the resources. And we’re starting to do that. But we’ve got a long way to go there. We really do.”

Where was this attitude ten or twelve years ago?  Oh, right — the big shots didn’t think it was needed.

I’ve said this before, but right now Kirby Smart may have more dumped on him than any coach in Georgia history.  He’s not only expected to win big and win clean, but he’s also expected to lead a clueless, spineless bunch to the way to run a big-time football program in the era of Saban.  If he doesn’t pull all of it off, they’ll just shrug their shoulders, throw all the blame Smart’s way (“we gave you that money…”) and proceed to the next clueless, spineless hire/fire move. Because that’s how folks with no accountability operate.  It’s what they’ve always done.

It’s the Georgia Way, peeps.



Filed under Georgia Football

60 responses to “Winning with the “conscience of the SEC”

  1. Dolly Llama

    Ah, Dink NeSmith. What a fraud.


  2. Greg

    One thing is for sure, it is being talked about more now than I have ever seen (support)….this should help imo. But we will still never be Alabama imo, lived in that state…..those people are all in, it is just crazy over there, most are obsessed.


    • Mayor

      A large part of the reason is there are no pro sports teams in Alabama.


      • PTC DAWG

        IS there anything in Alabama but roads leading OUT?


      • Greg

        Just a different breed over there. They are either buying their kids Alabama or Auburn attire at birth….mostly Bama shat. Name their kids Crimson, Bear and etc. Will fight you in a heartbeat over football, the women are just as bad as the men.

        Remember reading a couple of years ago two women arguing over football and one killed the other (stabbing or shooting). Seen plenty of bar fights over football…been to Auburn/Bama games maybe 4 or 5 different times….it can get crazy there too. Thinks it is more deep-rooted than no pro teams, seems like there is nothing more important than football. Have lived in a lot of different states in the south, Bama blows them all away as far as crazy football fans go.


    • Bulldog Joe

      A larger part of the reason is the University of Alabama Board of Trustees only represent three schools and they have no problem with penalizing one of them (UAB) if they present an enrollment or fund-raising threat to the flagship.

      Corrupt politics help explain why the state’s economic growth lags behind others in the region.


  3. AusDawg85

    Yes Fran. I should give more to the guys that have been f*ing things up because now they’ve got it right.


  4. Will Trane

    Pruitt knew. Impatient? He saw what many of us saw. Your flagship university not moving in athletics and academics. Senator you are brillant here and in the past to show with these comments the failed, stale leadership by BORs, AD, and president.
    High schools have indoor practice facilities… Lee County, Colquitt County, and others. Many high schools in this state have better facilities and perhaps coaches than UGA.
    Pruitt on the recruiting trail saw it happening.
    So where in hell were these guys and gals. Out of touch with the times.
    Same old drool from them.
    Wears you out with their prescience and work habits,


    • “High schools have indoor practice facilities”

      I guess every graduate of Lee County and Colquitt County high schools made 1600 on the SAT last year and were accepted into Ivy League caliber schools, and every elementary and middle school child is in the top quartile of reading and math.


  5. Bulldog Joe

    Finally, some of them publicly acknowledge they allowed the athletic department to fall behind competitively.

    They just don’t realize how far behind it is in all sports.

    Before spouting off about competing with Alabama, perhaps they should focus first on competing with Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 69Dawg

    Gee and everybody thought it was our coach that was too nice and made us abide by the stupid rules. The only problem with Coach Richt was he was a man of his word and he said he would never leave Georgia until they ran him off. Most other coach’s would have told the AD and Board to stick the crazy rules up their butts, because the rules were making it hard to compete with the UF’s, Auburn’s and Alabama’s. He lasted 15 years because he accepted his fate at the hands of the Georgia Way. He could have had the Miami job twice during that time. Once the old guard dies maybe UGA will enter the 21st century of college football.


    • There’s another of generation of folks in Athens who will more than happy to keep the status quo behind those currently at the helm. The head football coach at Georgia will always win in spite of the support given … not because.


    • Bulldog Joe

      No doubt for 15 years, they took financial advantage of his willingness to work for less, with less, and with less staff turnover.


  7. JCDAWG83

    I love the idea that the fans should pour more money into an athletic program that seems to take great pride in being no more than above average. It’s obvious these people live in the semi-socialist world or academia and non profits and have very little understanding of the concept of needing to produce a quality product in order to attract customers. This attitude is akin to the American auto industry responding to loss of market share to Japanese car makers by raising prices.

    I’m sure somewhere in BM, there is a sign that says “The beatings will continue until morale improves”.


    • 83Dawg

      With apologies to Garrison Keillor (but not to Garrison Hearst):

      “the little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve … where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average”


    • ASEF

      No, they are Regents, which means successful in real-world metrics. The problem is simple: they have a laughably romantic and simplistic view of the goals they want to achieve, combined with “rich man’s disease”: the belief that their success in their primary occupation makes them infallible in other areas of endeavor. Sort of like a lot of pro team owners.


      • JCDAWG83

        Not always, there was a Regent from here who was appointed solely because of the money he donated to politicians. He did not have a college degree nor did he even attend college. He sold a company for many millions and went around making donations to have his name put on buildings and to be appointed to boards. His ego is beyond anything anyone has ever seen. Ultimately, he blew through most of his money and is now living a comfortable but not extravagant life and is not on any more boards.

        The athletic assoc. board is made up of a majority of academic types. They are primarily concerned with Georgia not being a “football” school. They want athletics to be good but not too good. The whole “Georgia Way” thing has been a great marketing ploy to convince alumni and ticket buyers to continue to send money in spite of lackluster results. As long as the fans can feel holy and pure and superior about how we do things “the right way”, they have been willing to send in the checks. The recent struggles of the football team in particular and the mediocrity of UGA athletics in general seems to have opened some eyes. Another lackluster, disappointing football season and I think you will see a fair number of fans vote with their wallets and head for the doors.


  8. Will Trane

    Look at Washington Post article about decline in high school participation in New Jersey. Decline in teams in Michigan [reason their D1 programs look to the south]. Same in Missouri and northeast states. Increase in teams in south and southwest.
    Some people think there is a correlation between high school teams indoor facilities and SAT. Man, that is more of the narrow minded thinking going on in America today. Defies logic.
    Will not win a championship every year even with great facilities. But the quality of your student and play is better. Think of it this way.
    Would be like going to a movie with no roof. But then again even Hollywood is shedding viewers like ESPN.
    Hollywood nights and Friday nights…sitting firm and high


    • Dolly Llama

      I read a number of blogs, both political and non-political, and you are the craziest bastard I’ve ever read anywhere, any time. Absolutely the most fascinating commenter I know of. You go, Will.


    • I was actually saying that those Boards of Education must have solved every educational problem in their school system to give their high school football coaches an IPF with taxpayer money.


  9. Uglydawg

    Hope all those Texas schools ..Houston, Baylor, A&M, UTx, TCU, etc. have IPFs.


  10. Cojones

    You have moved into position to take on our ongoing problem with our program when you get after the GOBs behind the scene. The core asswipes in that group have taken over like Bannon did at the WH, but now there seems to be room for a Gen Kelly in the remainder of the group that can move them forward. Before that happens, you need to ambush the a-wipes at the pass and before their (money) receivers (Wide receivers would be inappropriate body shaming in that wide-ass group) fumble or lead us out-of-bounds.

    Follow your NCAA pathway by striking fast and hard, Senator, before the sobs do it to our program again. My hope is to see us competitive with Miami at the end of the year such that we face each other on good sportsmanship terms and before anyone inserts themselves between Kirby’s and Mark’s leadership that got us here (no thanks to the GOBs) . That matchup game would be cathartic to us all.


  11. Bright Idea

    It appears those of us in the great unwashed are getting a lot of help from the AJC in finally exposing the truth about The Georgia Way. About once a month one of these pieces comes out. Maybe that will help keep the pressure on the insiders and we will start to win something of significance. Maybe I said.


  12. MLB2

    Great post, Bluto. Absolutely perfect.


  13. Aladawg

    Amen. Tell it all preacher. Tell it all!!!!


  14. Hogbody Spradlin

    I get the point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear the same promises of dedication to academics in the public utterances of Alabama and Ohio State regents/trustees.


    • ASEF

      Alabama has significantly raised both the quality and quantity of undergrads on campus, a large portion of them paying over $40,000 a year in out of state tuition. 18,000 kids paying $40,000 a year.

      Alabama is using the Saban era to do a lot of heavy lifting on that campus, especially in academic infrastructure. Say what you want about their fans’ obsession with football, they are leveraging it in a pretty smart way.


    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Bama has been offering nice incentives to out of state students for a while. Last 3 years we’ve had 5-6 go to Bama from the local 3A school here in Pawleys Island.

      My original comment was more directed at the lofty bullshit the Georgia’s regents have been defacating about athletes. My point was: everybody’s regents pay tributes to educating their athletes. I know and accept that we’ve been stingier than others.


  15. MDDawg

    Regarding the IPF, it was never clear to me just how much of it was a case of Richt lobbying for it and being shot down vs. a case of Richt not asking for it. And a question for the rest of the commenters here: is it the coach’s job to tell the AD what he needs in order to be successful or is it the AD’s job to ask the coach what he needs? Or a bit of both?


    • It’s both. He lobbied for it with both athletic directors selected by Il Duce. Once, he apparently was told, “Don’t ask again.”


      • JCDAWG83

        If that’s true, then Richt really was stealing his paychecks. After the ’05 season, Richt could have been elected governor of Georgia, pretty much the same situation after the ’07 season. If he had let it leak to the public that the AD was not giving him what he wanted, the AD would have been gone. I think it was more a case of nobody, including Richt, really caring that much about having an IPF. The money was pouring in, everyone was getting rich, the fans were happy with being almost good, why rock the boat?

        It wasn’t until the patience started wearing thin with season after season of disappointment that the IPF became a convenient excuse for why we were not catching up to all the programs neighboring us who were winning championships.


        • JC, I think I remember he talked about busing over to the Falcons’ complex many times in good times and not so good times. I never heard him use it as an excuse. Whether it was due to rain, oppressive heat, cold or preparing to play a game in a domed stadium, they would bus to Flowery Branch or to the Dome to get a practice in. Evans and McGarity were marching to Adams’ orders, and the Regents weren’t going to run him out of Athens.


    • JG Shellnutt

      MDDawg, is the M.D. for Maryland, or are you a physician? Or is your name Mack Duvall, for example?


  16. Would be a very amusing article if it was not about our own program.

    Kudos to the AJC for writing it instead of yet another article about some angle related to the Notre Dame game.


  17. jhorne2000

    I love coming to this blog, even when I have to read some Georgia Way tripe…. only one more week until we have a game to discuss.

    Do you, believers of the Georgia Way, think the administators at Alabama sell their soul for wins – or do they just have a better football program/coach/AD?

    Did every school not named Alabama refuse to sell their souls – or are they still just trying to figure it out ?

    I love my Georgia , but I just can’t believe these sentiments are at all unique – Would any coach or administrator ever publicly admit that , yes , we are willing to sell our souls for football and we don’t care about doing it the right way – and that honor is for losers???

    Obviously not. There is no Georgia Way. We’re just one of about 100 schools who haven’t figured out how to win it all in football for the last 30 plus years. We try one thing for a while, if that doesn’t work we try something else.

    This is the year , though. I know it is !


    • 69Dawg

      I have some nice beach front property in Nashville GA, I’d like to sell you.


    • Greg

      Albert Means…..


      • jhorne2000

        Trying to figure out your point with that – I guess that 17 years ago Alabama massively outbid Georgia and a few other schools for his services.

        I don’t mind it being pointed out that mistakes were made as some of them are not so obvious (I didn’t know when we began to fall behind in facilities) – Senator does a nice job keeping us apprised of that stuff But his constant beating of the Georgia Way drum is puzzling in that it’s not consistent with any complete set of facts over a period of time- the most recent set of facts especially!


    • If you don’t want to read it, don’t. If you don’t believe it, then you have to have been in hibernation since Adams became president.


  18. illini84

    I don’t suppose that the Board of Regents of an organization that is responsible for 28 colleges and universities with more that 300,000 students has better things to do than worry about football at one school?


  19. Southernlawyer11

    I think this whole thing is an age / generational disconnect more than anything. A bunch of wealthy, white male early Boomers or Pre-boomers who think their shit doesn’t stink and, truthfully, never really had to deal with anything truly challenging. Their careers were in place before females and minorities truly came into the competitive job market…….they rode the stock market boom during their peak earning years of the 80s and 90s and they were completely financially secure and could choose their retirement point by the time the economic downturn changed everything.

    I was mentored and raised by these same types of people. I love them to death, but they are the same guys that think my wife has a hot dinner and starched shirts waiting on me when I get home (not also herself returning from an 8-5). The younger generation can differentiated between UGA the great school and UGA the great football program. Nobody under 50 thinks their degree is tarnished if we go for broke trying to get really good in Athletics. Nor do we believe that Academia is completely innocent and not deserving of its own scorn. I don’t feel compromised by letting in a student athlete simply because he is great at football when the English department is sending people into the world with 80k of debt and no job. Sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Jt (the other one)

    Fran “I hate Mark Richt” Tarkenton…didn’t he claim that Richt brought in Eason? He only needs to check to see who flew out to keep him coming to Georgia once he took over as HC…and would realize that it was Kirby who pulled him and Big Ben in at the end.
    He and the other crony in bred a-holes are the reason I refuse to take a position in the AA. I can’t stand the drama and BS that goes on there.
    All these “noble” a-holes need an enema in the worst way.
    They need to clean that place out.

    Read “Behind the Hedges” for a very telling but sordid view of UGA.


  21. saildawg

    Great post Senator, I think we can all agree that UGA has been the most underperforming athletic department in the country when you look at alumni base, donations, in state talent etc. That is due to leadership at the level of the BOR, and Butss-Mehre. It seems like Kirby is going to try and win with #1 more talent and depth of talent. I think that strategy is sound but requires resources that will challenge the Georgia way. If we look at the past national champions outside Alabama (Clemson, Florida St, Auburn, Fla) they all have a common theme a transcendent player at quarterback. Ohio State is the other champion who won with a transcendent head coach. It is going to be tough sledding to outperform Alabama with Saban still there. That being said recruiting your brains out is a good start, on filed coaching ability of the staff remains to be seen.