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Monday, September 27, 2010

McGarity: 'Everybody's concerned' about football team

Greg McGarity hasn’t been on the job a month at Georgia, and he’s already being asked the biggest question an SEC athletics director will probably face: Could there be a change in the football coach?

That may be premature, given that it’s only four games into the season. But with Georgia 1-3, and with yet another player arrest, head coach Mark Richt’s status is being pondered and debated.

Sitting in his office Monday afternoon, McGarity preferred to talk about he and his staff are remaining upbeat, and doing whatever it could to help Richt. But he knows from emails that fans are “frustrated” and that “everybody’s concerned.”

When it came to the hot-seat question, McGarity said that all staffs, all programs, are evaluated throughout the year. But he wanted to be careful with choosing his words.

Richt's deal at Georgia runs through the 2013 season, and his contract includes a longevity bonus in excess of $3 million, which would be owed if he were fired without cause. Richt is 91-30 in his 10 seasons as the Bulldogs coach.

“This will not play itself out in the media. It gets back to the question of do you have confidence,” McGarity said. “I’m not going down that road. We have confidence in everyone. I’ve just seen it twisted and turned to where the words of various A.D.s throughout the country gets turned around. So whatever you say can be twisted by whatever angle the writer chooses to take, or whatever to make it fit. So really all personnel decisions and everything that is done, are confidential and dealt with in a person-to-person manner.”

McGarity said he’s spoken to Richt almost every day, trying to be “uplifting,” and asking what he can do to help. He has also gone to about a practice a week, studying the program and how it works.

“There’s so many things that go into the games on Saturday. You’ve got so many moving pieces to this,” McGarity said. “I don’t know how many people touch the football program. But you’ve got strength and conditioning, you’ve got recruiting, you’ve got player development, you’ve got the philosophical approach. There’s so many moving parts to having a successful football program.”

One factor in Georgia’s poor start may have been the absence of star receiver A.J. Green. The junior was suspended by the NCAA for selling his jersey, and is eligible to return Saturday at Colorado.

McGarity was asked if it was fair to judge the Bulldogs given the absence of Green.

“Oh yeah, I think so. You know, as Mark has said, one person can make a difference, but at the end of the day one person can’t really dictate your season,” McGarity said. “You’ve seen other programs that have injuries or have unfortunate things that develop, and someone else steps up. So I think what this has done has maybe let some other receivers develop, I think Kris Durham certainly has been one of the highlighted receivers. I think it gives others a chance to pick up and play. …

“It’s all how you look at it. A.J. doesn’t play defense, he doesn’t block, he’s not an interior lineman. I’m sure it hurts the team. But I think there are so many other moving parts with it – it’s the what-if word, probably the two worst words you could use in coach-speak. You can’t play the what-if game.”

The recent spate of player arrests has not been helpful to the program. Demetre Baker, a freshman linebacker, was dismissed from the team Sunday after becoming the 10th Bulldog arrested this year, and the third since August.

McGarity said he was “stunned and disappointed” about the arrest, adding that Baker knew the consequences. Richt has said he would be harsher with alcohol-related issues.

“Mark basically did what he needed to do,” McGarity said.

A Georgia graduate himself, McGarity said it was important for fans to remain faithful, and agreed that apathy, not anger at the program, was the biggest danger.

He also knows that the current spate of bad publicity could hinder recruiting or fundraising, but they couldn’t pay attention to that right now.

“I’m sure where you’re speaking to some prospective student-athletes there are some institutions that are probably piling on right now,” he said. “But at the end of the day I think student-athletes have confidence in this institution and the leadership that we have in place. It’s a phenomenal school. These are sort of dips that we’re going through now, but it’s no indication of where we’ll always be.”


Buster said...

I like this guy!

MauiDawg said...

Very thoughtful and well put on McGarity's part.

GA football fans just need to RELAX and SUPPORT Richt. I'm not saying we should tolerate what's going on, but just realize this is not how it's going to continue. Anyone paying attention must realize that Richt is in the process of evolving this program. Some may say in a bad direction, but I disagree. He's trying. He canned Willie, he's conizant of Bobo, he's punished severely this offseason, they've stepped up in state recruiting..etc

I had a feeling before this season started..all things considered.. with the defense, QB, the AJ situation...that this may happen and we go 7-5 or 8-4. We're in a down year and most of the mediocre teams are up this year. That's all there is too it. But I must add that this year's team has not played or responded as well as they should have, but right now there's a player leadership gap in the program, but even that will change with Murray and others coming into their own eventually. I think all we are missing is for the players to get some confidence back and that can change with one game.

We also have a HUGE recruting class being put together. If we get Crowell, Rome, Lemay, Drew etc and the rest that's committed...I like our future. And they seem like good kids too.

If we are sitting at this point in 2011 with Richt, which I doubt..then let it fly. But stand behind him, we owe this program and what Richt has done the last decade at least that much respect!!