An Open Discussion in Bulldog Nation

Last evening, I called your attention to Tommy Perkins's essay on the profitability of the Georgia athletic department.  Since then, the Georgia Sports Blog's Paul Westerdawg has offered a reasonable retort.  

Paul makes the point that "it doesn't appear that we're hoarding cash.  It more appears that Damon [Evans] didn't do as good a job as he should have in explaining the numbers."  As Paul puts it:  

First off, I would argue that Damon is working to travel more.  With games booked on the road against Colorado, Arizona State, Louisville and Clemson, Damon is working to remove the stigma that UGA won't play road non-conference games.  Secondly, with the Stegeman Annex, he's working to eliminate the problem of under investment in men's hoops.

Because Paul states (fairly) that I agree with Tommy that Georgia should "invest the money in basketball or traveling more broadly in football," I believe a clarification is in order.  

Damon Evans was always my first choice to succeed Vince Dooley as Georgia's athletic director.  I was pleased at his appointment to that post and I have supported enthusiastically his performance since his elevation to that position.  I quite agree with Paul Westerdawg that Damon Evans has upgraded the Bulldogs' football schedule and I do not believe I have been stingy with offering deserved praise for that accomplishment.  

Furthermore, I believe Evans receives too little credit for the work that he has done in marketing the Georgia "brand."  He has done a great deal of work to promote national awareness of and respect for Bulldog athletics.  This contributes mightily to the financial health and overall prestige of Georgia's sports teams and Evans is given too little praise for his work in this regard.  

Although I support Georgia athletics across the board, I do not follow Bulldog basketball as closely or as fervently as either Paul Westerdawg or Tommy Perkins.  Where men's hoops is concerned, I have tended to prefer not causing embarrassment or detracting from football to winning consistently.  That is why I strongly opposed the hiring of Jim Harrick and I continue to have my doubts whether Georgia will ever be able to become a powerhouse in roundball.  

As I tried to indicate but may not have stated clearly enough, what interested me primarily about Tommy's posting was its implications for The Movement.  Since economic arguments most often are invoked as a reason for scheduling Division I-AA opponents or Sun Belt squads rather than adding other elite teams to the schedule, I found it noteworthy that the two most profitable athletic departments in the country were the ones at the schools I wanted to see meet on the gridiron.  

This fact undermines many of the claims that more aggressive scheduling is financially untenable and I believe Damon Evans's quite proper decision to improve the Bulldogs' non-conference football slate essentially acknowledges as much.  My advocacy of The Movement, which would have been revolutionary during the Vince Dooley era, amounts to little more under Damon Evans's leadership than the logical application of the old adage, "In for a penny, in for a pound."  

Paul Westerdawg is right that the existence of resources that have not yet been allocated is not synonymous with the miserly refusal to part with a dime that we associate with tightwads like Ebenezer Scrooge or Clark Howard.  Perhaps Tommy Perkins and I overstated the case if we seemed to suggest otherwise.  

I read Tommy's posting a little differently, however.  When he invoked the example of Texas, I understood him to be saying that, since (a) the University of Texas athletic department had many financial resources at its disposal, (b) the University of Texas athletic department made use of those financial resources by scheduling home and home football series with Ohio State and by upgrading its basketball program to national contender status, and (c) the University of Georgia athletic department also has many financial resources at its disposal, then, therefore, (d) the University of Georgia would do well to emulate Texas, both in its intersectional out-of-conference football scheduling and in its facilities upgrades.  

Paul cites facts to demonstrate that Damon Evans is, in fact, doing the very thing that Tommy and I argue that Georgia should be doing.  I am pleased that this is the case and I trust Damon Evans's judgment.  Nevertheless, our athletic director's preference for the term "unallocated resources" suggests that there are substantial financial resources at the institution's disposal and decisions will have to be made as to the manner in which those resources are best spent.  

I believe Paul, Tommy, and I are all in agreement that our alma mater is moving in the right direction and that upgrades in football scheduling and basketball facilities are wise uses of the funds available to be spent.  Even so, reasonable citizens of Bulldog Nation still may differ over whether the construction of the Stegeman Annex solves the fundamental problem of the Coliseum itself or whether the admitted and healthy progress shown by scheduling away games against Arizona State and Colorado is sufficient when schools such as Tennessee and Texas are scheduling road trips to perennial national powers.  

In sum, I do not believe Paul, Tommy, and I are as far apart on this as it might appear at first glance.  Damon Evans is doing a fine job and it is a good thing that there are resources at Georgia's disposal.  The progress that has been made and the funds available to fuel further forward movement are encouraging indicators and it is in times such as these that Bulldog Nation ought to be engaged in serious discussions regarding how best to proceed in what we all agree is the right direction.  

Go 'Dawgs!  

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