In case you missed it last night — and who could blame you, really? — that’s the reaction of Georgia’s men’s basketball head coach to the news that the ninth (!) player from last season’s roster elected to depart Athens via the transfer portal. That’s just a hair short of 70% of the roster turning over, if your math skills are a little weak. Or, to put it another way, if a similar percentage of football players decided to head for the hills, Kirby Smart would be down 59 guys.
Sounds pretty hairy, amirite? Well, not to Josh Brooks.
“We’ve taken some hits in our basketball program, and so have others,” Brooks said. “We’ve got a coach who has got a history of developing players who have moved on to the NBA, we know his lineage, we have to take advantage of that.”
Cool, cool, cool, Josh. Wonder why nobody thought of that before, as Georgia slugged its way in Crean’s three years to an overall 41–49 (.456) record and an even more scintillating 14–40 (.259) conference mark.
My point here isn’t to rag on Brooks, who’s stuck in the unfortunate position of having to make do with a crappy situation he inherited. In fact, I’m not sure I’d do anything different at this point. There isn’t a coach in America who could step in tomorrow if Crean were gone and fashion a winning team out of the roster wreckage. If that’s the case, one might as well sit back, wait a year or so for Crean’s buyout to decrease significantly, can him then and hire someone new for a lot less money who, if we’re honest, probably couldn’t do a lot worse. That’s a pretty good savings, all told.
My point isn’t even to whine about the state of the basketball program (although feel free to do so in the comments, if you’re inclined). What I would like you to think about is the comparison between where Butts-Mehre currently finds itself with Crean and where it was in the last two years of Mark Richt’s time in Athens. In 2014-5, Richt went a combined 19-6 overall and 11-5 in the SEC, played in the postseason and had his 2014 team ranked in the top ten at season’s end. If Crean had shown similar success, they’d be throwing ticker tape parades for him; for his work, Richt was unceremoniously shown the door. And paid a $4 million buyout.
Therein lies the rub, my friends. The boosters love only one sport in Athens, and by “love”, I mean “willing to open the checkbook”. If anyone flush gave a rat’s ass about basketball the way they do about football, I doubt Josh Brooks would sound so sanguine about Crean’s future prospects for the red and black. (Crean would probably sound less arrogant, too, for that matter.) But that’s where we are, which is pretty much where we’ve always been.
So, just remember the next time you hear a Georgia athletic director say something like this…
“Before you can truly evaluate any coach, you have to evaluate yourself internally as an administration, and make sure we’re doing everything in our power to help them be successful,” Brooks said. “A lot of times we want to point the fingers at others, but I want to tell everyone that it all starts here in the administration.
“I’ve talked about wanting to win a championship in every sport that we sponsor, 21 sports, so it all starts with, are we doing everything we can to give them a chance to be successful with their conference peers and national peers.”
… that we get the athletic directors the boosters think we deserve. That works as long as you share the same priorities.