Mark Fox had Nine Seasons at Georgia and will get a $1.1 Million Buyout.
This is an opportunity for re-birth and change. It will be healthy for both Mark Fox and the UGA Men’s Basketball Program to go in different directions. Mark Fox’s firing is not going to be a kiss of death for his career, he’s going to likely coach at a mid-major and schools like Colorado State, Missouri State, San Diego and Washington State are natural landing spots for him. College sports is a tough industry and former University of Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton actually put it in the best way describing what it is like and to paraphrase his commentary from 2004…
“You do not know how long you have at any particular school. You have to be ready to move at any time because opportunities and demands can be so fickle. Your family has to be prepared to leave and not become attached to any one location. I can be in Boise next Fall, I’m not joking – that’s how unpredictable this industry is and you have to embrace it or not be in it.”
The end of the Mark Fox era is going to be toughest on the Assistant Coaches who now have some tough decisions to make themselves. Philip Pearson is going to try to get a Head Coaching job and he deserves one. Jonas Hayes is in limbo as to whether he would be retained by the next staff or if he makes a big leap to become a Head Coach. David Carter may become a Head Coach again, but it is likely that he would come in tow with Mark Fox. Carter left Saint Mary’s to join the Georgia staff and now he has to bounce to another location after being in Athens for only 9 months. Director of Basketball Operations Kent Davison and Operations Coordinator Matt Bucklin have futures to consider as well. Bucklin could certainly join a mid-major staff as an Assistant Coach much like the way current Wofford Assistant Jay McAuley did.
Nobody Celebrates a Divorce, It’s More of a Relief
The process of getting a divorce is not often a rash decision, it is something can builds over a period of time. That is unless a spouse cheats, then usually the divorce happens, but the cheating means that there is an underlying problem with the relationship and the divorce should have happened before or the marriage was a mistake in the first place.
There’s a sense of relief that everyone can move on and find success in a different way. The hope is that everyone takes away from this process some important lessons and not try to repeat the failures of yesterday with the hope of making it work tomorrow. There needs to be a postmortem by everyone involved so that improvement is made in the next stages.
Too often the mistakes of the previous regime carry over.
UGA is Single and Ready to Mingle
Rushing to rebound to a Head Coach and going after a hot name is not necessarily the solution. The solution is a coach who brings a style of play and engagement with the students, yes, the students – not you. They are the future, they are untainted by the past and their loyalty is in the balance. Get them on board and you can have them forever.
Everyone will come on board as well once there is a level of excitement that is there. We have a culture to create and this is not a decision to take lightly. This is an opportunity for the University of Georgia Athletic Association to prove us wrong and that they are capable of changing. This is an opportunity for Greg McGarity to leave a positive legacy after making mistake after mistake. He’s a lame duck Athletic Director and he can afford to be bold.
Georgia Basketball needs to be fun. We have the roster to do it, we have taken the steps to change coaches and now we need a commitment to building a culture. Game Nights become a party, alumni come in from all over to attend games, the hotels are packed, the bars are full, the students are dressed up, Stegeman Coliseum is deafening and there is a fast paced brand of Basketball that complements the talent that we recruit. It can be done, but this requires the ability to admit that the old ways were wrong and that this new approach will turn around the reputation.
Getting Out of Our Own Way
There was a collective failure to foster a Basketball Culture at UGA and it has existed since the beginning. History must be celebrated, but not repeated. The mistakes were numerous, but the lessons and directives are obvious.
- Promote the Men’s Basketball Program without making it look small. Don’t talk about Football.
- Interact even more with the Greek community at UGA.
- Recruit players that fit your system, have a vision and stick to the vision.
- Have a style of play that is exciting and allows your talent to shine through rather than coach around your talent.
- Encourage Game Days and Game Nights to be on-campus parties just like Football.
- Schedule aggressively to win over diaspora alumni.
- Schedule events and engage alumni not just from Atlanta, but from Savannah, Jacksonville, Augusta, Macon, Chattanooga and Columbus.
- Create new traditions.
- Engage the lettermen. Retire Yante Maten’s #1 immediately.
- Make friends with local AAU coaches and try to encourage the media to stop denigrating them.
There’s a lot of opportunity at UGA. This is either the first step in the process of extending the party or extending the same old, same old. There’s more money to be had by changing everything, the question is whether those in power really want to do this.
New boss same as the old boss is very common. Too often people make the mistake of getting into relationships with the same sort of toxic individuals on a repeated basis. Can Georgia break the cycle? Are we capable of truly changing?
Firing Mark Fox is not the solution, it’s a part of the process of getting to a solution.