The rehabilitation of Greg McGarity

I think Andy Staples is a good pundit, but the description he provided of McGarity a few years ago as a “sharp athletic director” struck me as either odd or coming from someone who didn’t follow the program as closely as he thought.

So, how else to explain the lede to his piece ($$) about the current state of affairs with regard to Dan Mullen?

In November 2015, Greg McGarity watched his team celebrate an overtime win against Georgia Southern as if it had just won the Super Bowl. That’s when he knew. McGarity, then Georgia’s athletic director, had been under pressure to make a coaching change for a while. But firing Mark Richt was a huge step. Georgia didn’t stink by any stretch of the imagination. That team finished the 2015 regular season at 9-3. But the Bulldogs weren’t meeting expectations.

That same week, Alabama coach Nick Saban had launched into his infamous “shit through a tin horn” rant — which, coincidentally, was about Georgia Southern in 2011 — as the Crimson Tide prepared to play Charleston Southern. Alabama beat its FCS opponent 56-6 on the same week Georgia needed overtime. The Tide didn’t need to celebrate as if they’d won a championship, because they had played to the level of their talent. McGarity and the rest of the Georgia leadership decided they wanted that mindset. They wanted to look and play like Alabama did. So out went Richt and in came Kirby Smart.

“That’s when he knew.”  That makes at least the third different time frame for that decision I’m aware of — Georgia Southern, Florida and hell, 2014, when events led up to Mark Richt addressing the rumors at his presser after the Belk Bowl victory.  For what’s supposed to be a story about a decisive guy, that’s not very decisive sounding.

And of course the take is truly ironic in this specific context because Dan Mullen was McGarity’s guy back then, as Dan Wolken related at the time.

McGarity, who has been Georgia’s athletics director since 2010, has never conducted a coaching search of this magnitude. He previously worked under Jeremy Foley at Florida, and it is expected he would lean heavily on Foley’s advice should he find himself in the middle of a coaching search.

Multiple people told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity that McGarity has a very high opinion of Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen from their time together at Florida. Though that does not necessarily line up with Foley’s opinion of Mullen — he was not considered a candidate for the Florida opening after last season — Georgia is a job that worries Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin, according to one person with knowledge.

Sometimes, Occam’s razor is your friend.  Somewhere in the middle of the 2015 season, Mark Richt burned his last bridge with influential boosters who directed McGarity to can him and hire Kirby Smart.  The insistence that McGarity pulled all the strings by his lonesome is about as convincing as his need to spend money on a search firm to help with the hire then.

That’s all there is to it.


Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

38 responses to “The rehabilitation of Greg McGarity

  1. Remember the Quincy

    My first thought as well when I read his piece, considering that McGarity would have hired Mullen had he been allowed to do so.

    But my question is, does ANY athletic director truly make hiring/firing decisions on their own (or at the very least, in tandem with the university administration) without powerful boosters directing in the background?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Corch Irvin Meyers, Former Jags Corch (2021)

    That’s not the first time Andy has made that claim about when McGarity “decided,” even though conventional wisdom (no, not you Mr. Barnhart) says it was after the Faton Bauta debacle.

    I think, given how long Andy has resided in Jortsville, and the fact that he was a walk-on at FU, it makes sense that he has sources inside the ‘turd Admin. McGarity was probably one of those sources and they probably like each other or have a mutual admiration on a personal level.

    But yeah, McGarity is the worst and left up to his own devices, we’d have suffered through Cousin Eddie here while Kirby turned Sakerlina into a recurring powerhouse.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. 79dawg

    That doesn’t line up with what McGarity himself said – that he made the decision driving home from the Tech game…
    To me, that still remains the most plausible explanation – we were told prior to the Tech game by multiple people “in the know” that, as long as he beat Tech, Richt was going to be fine for another year (Shottenheimer was already set for the chopping block)….

    Liked by 1 person

    • The decision was made before the GT game. I heard from more than one person immediately after the game that Smart was going to be the guy.

      Hell, McGarity didn’t even go into the locker room after the Tech game.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MagnusDawgus

        As I recall, he also didn’t go into the locker room after the win against Auburn a few weeks before. And Richt then boarded a plane (at his own expense) to visit Jacob Eason. Not good signs, at all.


      • timberridgedawg

        Definitely before GT, Kirby was already putting together a staff. As of Thanksgiving Day before the game, I know Muschamp was planning to accept the DC position had the SCar job not popped up.

        McGarity was told by the money guys to hire Smart and not mess it up is the story I’ve been told. Firing Richt was just a formality.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jsun7

          This is what I was told at the time too. The Kahn brothers in Charlotte more or less told McG that Smart was the answer and to not mess up on the way to getting that done.

          Also, the day he got hired Kirby took a plane owned by the Kahns to Seattle to visit the Eason family which was quite the contrast to Coach Richt flying Delta a few weeks earlier.

          Liked by 1 person

          • gastr1

            Must be quite something to be told by people not even in your field that they know more about your job than you do…and then they’re proven right.

            McGarity…sometimes I think he was the living embodiment of having Mr. Conventional Wisdom as an athletic director.

            Liked by 1 person

      • vernefundquist

        I think McGarity probably spent that drive back to Athens rehearsing a tough conversation he already knew he was going to have, but I cannot imagine that decision was made then. Had to have been made weeks earlier, no later than 4th quarter in Jacksonville.


    • akascuba

      I remember McGarity claiming after Richt was fired he made the decision on his drive back from gt. I don’t believe any of his statements that day were the truth. He didn’t make the decision and he had been told prior to the win at MR field Richt was to be fired.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 79dawg

    I remember being relieved that we beat Georgia Southern – just like I was relieved we beat Missouri 6-3 a few weeks earlier – but I don’t remember anyone acting like we’d just won the Super Bowl (although the Georgia Southern fans probably felt that way for most of the game)….


    • iusedtopostasmikecooley

      I remember thinking we were in a bad place as a program when the players celebrated after beating Georgia Southern. That just really felt upside down and backwards. That 2015 season felt off in a lot of different ways.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MagnusDawgus

        Hell, I was pretty exultant after beating Little Brother from the Pine Barrens. As I recall, we won it on the same play that won the Rose Bowl two years later — a wild dog snap to Sony Michel who took it to the house on the left side.


      • 2015 was by no means the worst season we’ve had since I’ve been a fan, but it was definitely the least fun. From the Tennessee game on, every game was just a joyless slog.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Why do people continue to try and prop McGarity up like this? It’s not as if you have to do all that much research to see how multiple UGA programs declined thanks to his cheapskate attitude.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. jdawg108

    In this case Mullen is the shit AND the tin horn. Thank god we weren’t the ones holding it.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Munsoning

    I need to knock off the armchair QBing and keep it simple, ’cause I’m stupid: McGarity sucks and Mullen blows.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Ran A

    First… Will always be grateful for CMR. But it was time for a change. We should all thank the Lord that Auburn was too stupid not to hire Smart. And then thank God that the money folks were Smart enough to insist on hiring Kirby Smart.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. These notions may well based on Staples’ private, off the record, after-the-fact conversations with McGarity, or someone close to him. No one in an AD’s offense is going to admit that kind of fealty to “influential boosters.” Staples is surely aware that, especially in the south, boosters who are nowhere in the actual chain of command play an outsized role in these decisions. But those same boosters allow the McGarity’s of the world to preserve the fiction of fully independent decision-making authority with the understanding that, either way, the AD is saddled with responsibility. If the KS experiment had been a disaster, these same pundits would still be talking about McGarity and what a moron he was, while most of the public would have no idea it wasn’t his call. Isn’t that kind of the deal? Not too different than writing about politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Some thoughts here:

    McGarity was a lifelong fail-upwards bureaucrat. His first priority at all times was Greg McGarity. Like all effective bureaucrats, he understood that shit rolls downhill, and he did a good job at showing one face to his superiors and another to his subordinates.
    Like all bad corporate leaders, he created three classes of subordinates:

    A. Principled subordinates who would voice disagreement with him (these folks never lasted long, see: Mark Richt, Seth Emerson)

    B. Submissive subordinates who just wanted to go along to get along (see: Mark Fox) and

    C. Ambitious subordinates who used what influence/leverage they may have had over him to elevate/flatter him and hope to move “uphill” where they had more people under them to ESAD. (See: Andy Staples, Chip Towers, UGAAA employees who got promotions under McGarity)

    Now that he is gone, I understand how people who would have fallen in group A (The Senator, clearly) may have some residual resentment or suspicion of the people who fell in group C. But, McGarity is now gone, so who really cares? These people will succeed or fail on their own merits now.
    Some people in Group C, like Staples, are still playing along with McG for some reason. The rest of us see through it. Let them be. No one cares. His legacy is entrenched. He learned from the Master, Mike Adams, and his legacy will be the same.

    Lets move on

    Liked by 1 person

    • vernefundquist

      This is . . . not real accurate.

      Principled subordinates who voiced concerns “never lasted long” except Richt coached 6 seasons with him as AD and I have no idea why Seth Emerson is on there, who has never worked for UGAAA but has lasted long as a reporter covering the team.
      He fired Mark Fox who is in the “submissive” bucket.

      Not a fan of him myself, but I find these categories lacking.


  11. godawgs1701

    University of Georgia head coach Dan Mullen. Woof. Now I’ve got a new nightmare.


  12. ZeroPOINTzero

    The whole intro to his article on Mullen by talking about McGarity was just odd. The fact that he has it completely wrong makes it ironic too. Truly ironic when you consider McGarity wanted to hire that idiot Mullen. I guess if he had a few other case studies thrown in it would make more sense. I wasn’t sure if it was a belated puff piece on McGarity or a hit on Scott Stricklin. Just a weird article.


  13. Castleberry

    Perhaps in the world of grading ADs there are different categories. Sure, McG was a C student in leadership and decision-making. But he was the GOAT at reserve fund management, amirite?


  14. W Cobb Dawg

    Nothing I’ve seen in Greg Mediocrity during his time in Athens leads me to believe he thought much about…anything. He was nothing but a bean counter who lucked out. And even as a bean counter he was lousy. Look no further that the condom items in the Ludacris contract.

    Staples would be more believable if he went back to calling Mullen a genius.


  15. PTC DAWG

    Water under the bridge….

    Liked by 1 person

  16. otto1980

    I don’t think we will ever know the true story of when the decision was made. If a book was written by McGarity, I’m not sure I would believe it.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the wheels started rolling after the WLOCP, and many of the Richt loyalist alums were on board after Ga Southern. I can not believe the decision was made the weekend of the GT game


  17. ZeroPOINTzero

    Worst hire ever – Shottenheimer. Holy shit bags he was awful.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. munsonlarryfkajim

    So let me get this straight

    We all hate Greg mcgarity because he was, well, Greg mcgarity

    We all hate big money boosters because, well, they are big money boosters

    So who are we supposed to be grateful to for getting rid of richt and getting Kirby in the chair?

    As with most things in life the truth is somewhere among all of these narratives, none of which are entirely correct.

    However it went down, I’m grateful that it did. As far as Staples article – since when did a search for the truth come back into journalism? Much easier to choose the narrative that fits your objective.


  19. Texas Dawg

    When I saw the headline, I thought some AD had hired him and had a fallen AD rehab unit like Saban has for fallen coaches.


  20. Harold Miller

    Based on the conversations I had at the Hilton Garden Inn after the Bama game in 2015 I would day to good ship Richt had already hit the iceberg and was taking on copious amounts of water.


  21. Seth Emerson’s book is a pretty good summary of what led up to the Smart hiring.