If you want to get a taste of what’s really behind Georgia’s new Open Records law (hint: it ain’t recrootin’), start by taking a look at this Jon Solomon piece about the money spent by schools on search firms when they replace head coaches.
At Georgia, after Mark Richt was fired, there was little doubt who the Bulldogs had pegged at No. 1: Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Georgia paid $42,175 to CarrSports Consulting for Bill Carr’s help in the search.
Carr didn’t act as an intermediary for Georgia and didn’t contact anyone connected with Smart, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. Instead, McGarity said Carr helped by talking with him on the phone and meeting in Atlanta for multiple days to discuss every facet of the search.
“You talk about strengths and weaknesses of a number of candidates,” McGarity said. “You look at things as simple as YouTube videos. How does an individual handle a tough situation? Are they able to be an effective communicator? Some candidates have a lot more available online than others. With the ability to search and take the time necessary to do that, you have so many more tools at your disposal that can help elevate candidates or dismiss candidates.”
McGarity said Carr helped in case Georgia had “blind spots” when discussing candidates. He also helped prepare the Bulldogs for the transition of a new staff.
“In some ways, we had been operating for 15 years in one way,” McGarity said. “So having someone assist in that transition period on what we should expect and how we should approach certain things administratively was extremely beneficial to us as a staff.”
“Ah,” you say. “Bluto, it’s been more than ninety days since Kirby Smart was hired. Wouldn’t this information be available now, even under the new law?”
It would. But look what you’re getting at this point – a fairly dry assessment of McGarity’s management decision that’s placed in the general context of how every school handles this. What’s lost now is the context of judging McGarity’s comment at the time of Richt’s presser that he intended to retain a search firm going forward.
As we know, that was a complete load of crap. McGarity spoke to Carr in mid-October. The reality was that Kirby Smart was the man he wanted from the beginning; any preference to conduct a patient search to hire Smart went out the window when word leaked that South Carolina was talking with him about that head coaching job.
Now none of this is exactly a serious threat to the American way of life, certainly, but it is an indication of how Georgia’s athletic department goes about its business. Except that ninety days out, our impression of the contradictions in McGarity’s statement loses the impact of immediacy. Which is what he wants, and, with the benefit of the new law, gets.
Maybe that doesn’t matter to you. Maybe it goes out in the wash when Georgia wins the SEC this season. But if you’re somebody like me who’s shaken his head over the years about the way Butts-Mehre operates and how that’s had an impact on the performance of Georgia athletics, it’s not exactly a cause for celebration. If it would help to see this in a more graphic way, try to imagine how Michael Adams would have operated had this new law been in place two decades ago. Yeah, me, too.