The State of the Bulldog Nation
It was a frustrating weekend for the supporters of the UGA basketball program. After the Hoop Dawgs suffered an incredibly frustrating, but completely predictable, first round NIT loss to Belmont on Wednesday night, Athletic Director Greg McGarity went on 680 The Fan on Thursday to attempt to smooth over the
second eighth consecutive disappointing season from the Bulldogs embattled head coach, Mark Fox. Needless to say, this was yet another in a long line of PR blunders by McGarity.
“Mark would be the first to tell you it’s (the program) not what he wants it to be and everyone wants it to be, but it (this season) is a winning record and that’s something that’s become commonplace in our program, and we just need to take that next step forward in getting to the big dance.”
To be clear, not only did McGarity admit that after eight years the program is not where Fox would want it to be, but he openly admitted that the program is not where anyone would want it to be. I must admit, I am impressed by how accurate that statement from McGarity was, while also being astonished that an Athletic Director at a SEC university would actually admit something so damning about a program and follow that up by effectively telling its supporters, “And oh yeah! Did I mention that we are bringing Mark back for year number 9?”
With his very next sentence, McGarity touted the fact that Georgia had a winning record this season, something that has “become commonplace” at UGA under Fox- and literally every other major conference program that doesn’t finish dead last in their conference every year. It appears that this non-existent accomplishment is something that the University of Georgia Athletic Association is proud of. Never mind the fact that Fox has missed the NCAA Tournament 5 out of the past 6 years, or that he couldn’t make a field of 68 teams this season while having 2 consensus First Team All-SEC performers. Forget that Fox couldn’t make the Tournament last season with those same two all-time UGA greats, J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten, along with two other 3+ year starting guards in Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann (ironically, both Mann and Gaines were pre-season First Team All-SEC last Season) .
Never mind the fact that McGarity had just admitted on air that Mark Fox is falling short of literally EVERYONE’s expectations. Forget all of that, and don’t ask questions. None of these facts matter. By the end of the interview, Greg McGarity had made it clear that Mark Fox would be back, despite any and all of the above.
Things got even worse over the weekend. By Sunday, South Carolina had knocked off Duke to reach its first ever Sweet 16, further lowering Georgia down the SEC Basketball pecking order and further emphasizing Fox’s complete and total lack of NCAA Tournament success at UGA. By today, realistic head coaching targets such as Kevin Keatts (North Carolina State), Will Wade (LSU),
Pat Kelsey (UMass) and Mike Rhoades (VCU) had all been taken off the market.
I know that we typically stick to just UGA Hoops around here, but it is hard to talk about the AD-approved failure of the basketball program without discussing the state of the UGA Athletic Department as a whole. In case you missed it over the weekend, the Georgia baseball team opened SEC play with a shocking, but not-so-shocking 22-9 loss to LSU, en route to being swept over the weekend. The Bulldogs are 9-13, have dropped series’ to College of Charleston, Mercer, and Rider. Scott Stricklin‘s team seems to be destined for yet another cellar-dwelling performance that might fail to even net an SEC Tournament appearance. I mean, the Diamond Dawgs allowed 35+ base runners to reach base via walk or HBP last weekend, and also committed eight errors in a game earlier this season. Truly incredible numbers there, and if things continue down this path and the team does indeed miss the SEC Tournament again, it would be the third time that has happened in Stricklin’s four seasons.
Between basketball and baseball, the situations in two of the big three men’s sports at UGA are worse than bad, they are catastrophic. Fox will apparently return for a third consecutive Make-Or-Break Year. With seemingly no basketball-related reason to bring Fox back, then what is the reason?
McGarity the boosters who really call the shots are completely fine with being mediocre if they do not have to pay Fox’s $1.7 million buyout if he were to be terminated this season. As long as the money continues to flow into the University of Georgia Athletic Association, wins and losses mean nothing in any sport not named football. It is for this same reason that I am not convinced that Stricklin will be fired. Decisions in all sports other than football are made on a cost-basis rather than revenue growth or success in the particular competitive sport.
If it is not obvious enough, I think that McGarity and his cronies are robbing the fans by not even attempting to strive for excellence in athletics. At this point, I think it is beyond fair to question if President Jere Morehead was really the huge improvement over Michael Adams that we all envisioned. I would say that the fact that McGarity is still in place as the J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics is pretty strong evidence that Morehead is not. In my opinion, just like under Adams, the sole objective of the University of Georgia Athletic Association is to make as much money as possible.
Thankfully, we are in the beginning of a Great Awakening, but it is apparent that there is still a long way to go, so don’t get too excited. In this article last week, McGarity defended his decision to keep millions upon millions of dollars in reserve for a “potential rainy day”. These millions have been donated by boosters under the impression that they would be spent on improvements to facilities, but those improvements have not come.
Check out the reaction from former UGA and current PGA Tour golfer Kevin Kisner to this McGarity quote:
“Compare it to someone else, everyone compares it to Alabama. Compare it to Tennessee, compare it to LSU. So I think what happens is so many people refer to one place. There are 12 other schools in the league. Let’s compare to others. Some better. Some don’t have what we have.”
Keep in mind, this is a quote about FOOTBALL. This is the only sport that is taken seriously by everyone from those within Butts-Mehre to the ordinary fan wearing a Georgia cap in Waycross. After reading that quote, I can’t help but wonder why McGarity didn’t just come out and say, “Why don’t we shoot for 7th best? That would be in the top half of the SEC, after all.” It should also be noted that Harman has been rumored to have made a sizable donation for improvements to the golf facilities years ago and the improvements have still not come to fruition. (This would be an interesting investigation.) McGarity continues to delay the facility improvements.
This quote is seriously laughable, appalling in my opinion! pic.twitter.com/yJbTl6lrnh
— Kevin Kisner (@K_Kisner) March 7, 2017
Money in reserves for what? Why would anyone donate if they are just going to sit on it? https://t.co/iA8vJdghRJ
— Brian Harman (@harmanbrian) March 8, 2017
It is possible that the only way that anything is going to change on this matter is if famous and successful alumni that excelled as student-athletes at UGA like Kisner and Harman continue to speak out and tell the truth. Jon Stinchcomb did his job in this article regarding the reserve funds here.
On that note, here is your chance to speak out. We want to hear from you. We are curious to see how many of our readers agree with this view, and we’d like to see how the Dawg Nation feels as a whole.
There are 4 questions below, 1 specifically about UGA Basketball, and 3 about the State of the UGA Athletic Association. The basketball question is particularly interesting because at this point, if Fox is returning, he almost has to be extended just for the purpose of recruiting. I can’t wait to see McGarity try to positively spin an extension after these past two years!
The first question concerns Mark Fox and Georgia Basketball…
After 8 seasons of the Mark Fox era of Georgia Basketball, what is the best approach going forward with Mark Fox?
- Firing Mark Fox immediately. (60%, 98 Votes)
- Let Fox coach one "hot seat" season. (29%, 47 Votes)
- Encouraging Fox to get another position anywhere else and paying him $2 million to leave. (7%, 12 Votes)
- Extend Fox's contract for two years. (2%, 4 Votes)
- Extend Fox's contract for four or more years with a raise. (2%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 164
Now, How is the University of Georgia Athletic Association doing as a whole?
Does the University of Georgia Athletic Association value all competitive sports?
- No (94%, 145 Votes)
- Yes (6%, 10 Votes)
Total Voters: 155
How would you assess the level of corruption in the University of Georgia Athletic Association?
- Mild Level of Corruption (26%, 38 Votes)
- Moderate Level of Corruption (26%, 37 Votes)
- Not Corrupt (24%, 35 Votes)
- High Level of Corruption (24%, 34 Votes)
Total Voters: 144
Do you approve or disapprove of the leadership of the University of Georgia Athletic Association?
- Disapprove (93%, 140 Votes)
- Approve (7%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 151
Outside of the University of Georgia Athletic Association taking action in some form or another (if even viewed as necessary), what can we (as in all of us not in a decision-making role) do to improve the state of University of Georgia Athletics and University of Georgia as a whole?
Give GBB your suggestions in the comments below. If you feel there is nothing that needs to be improved or worked on, let us know as well! I am very interested to see the percentages on these poll results.
Hunker Down Bulldog Nation, we have a fight ahead of us.