If you didn’t see it, Seth Emerson ($$) wrote a smart piece (pun intended) about Josh Brooks taking the reins as Georgia’s new athletic director. First, the background, and the context for my natural cynicism about the hire:
It’s easy to see how this looks: Georgia, a school that has almost always hired one of its own for big jobs, first promotes Josh Brooks to interim athletic director, says there will be a national search, and then gives Brooks the full-time job a mere six days into that interim tenure.
Brooks thus succeeds Greg McGarity, a Georgia graduate and Athens native, who had succeeded Damon Evans, who played football at Georgia, who succeeded Vince Dooley, the school’s legendary football coach.
The last time Georgia hired an athletic director with no connection to the school: 1963, when Joel Eaves was hired away from Auburn. So by merely promoting Brooks, who has worked at Georgia for the better part of the last 12 years, school president Jere Morehead — another UGA graduate who himself was promoted into his job eight years ago — has settled for more of the same.
That’s how it looks, at least.
With good reason. A half-century legacy of never hiring outside the program? How many other schools can claim a track record like that?
Like it or not, Georgia’s gonna Georgia. Morehead is quoted as saying he chose Brooks after an extensive search inside and outside the program, but seeing as Morehead’s preference all along was for McGarity to stay in the job, I’m not exactly impressed with his representations.
That being said, it’s a fair comparison to make, as Seth does, to the Smart hire. In other words, the process may be open to question, but there’s no reason Brooks can’t make his mark in the way that Kirby has.
Well, maybe. Brooks faces booster pressure and also the financial pressure of keeping the books looking good in ways Smart never has. And, of course, in some ways it’s easier to measure a football coach’s success than it is an athletic director’s, especially in the case of a school like Georgia, where poor hiring/firing decisions in sports other than football, one of Greg McGarity’s faults, are often ignored.
That being said, if Brooks can do a few things, such as up that hiring/firing track record, do more than give lip service to improving the game day fan experience and, generally speaking, keeping his foot out of his mouth, he’ll be a success, or, at least, a significant improvement. He’s got my good wishes for that. The best thing he’s got going for him is that in so many areas, a low bar has been set by his predecessor.