While the Georgia football program has had success on the field in 2011, it's been a tumultuous year for the man at the top, Greg McGarity. At the beginning of the season, he dealt with the rumblings of a fan base displeased with on-field performance in 2010, and although the signing of the Dream Team helped some, an 0-2 start compounded that frustration.
Yes, the team won 10 games after losing its first two, and that's quite the accomplishment. However, the same pundits that picked UGA as the preseason favorite in the SEC East turned around and maligned the program for the "soft" schedule that got them there. Apparently, Florida wasn't allowed to have a down year and dodging LSU, Bama and Arkansas in the regular season is just downright unfair.
So while a 10-2 regular season and an appearance in the SEC Championship is something we all hoped for after an 0-2 start, it seems that McGarity still can't get the fan base on the same page. Why is that?
I'd like to point you to this post over at The Victory Formation. I personally think it's excellent because although I don't like calling our fans out, what he says is right, for the most part. It is not our birthright to win every game. It's not given to us in stone that Georgia should be winning SEC Championships every year. Yes, we have tradition, money, facilities and talent. So does the top 50% of the SEC. You're not playing with a stacked deck, when every other guy has a stacked deck as well.
So the rumors begin (and may have actually been floated by Richt's staff), that Texas A&M's going after Mark Richt. Correct me if I'm wrong, but when no one wants your head coach, then most of the time it means that your head coach isn't doing his job to the best of his abilities. No offense intended, but how many programs are lining up to speak with Derek Dooley? He was widely considered to be a coach on the rise, but even with the turmoil he stepped into at Tennessee, no one thought he'd be that bad. You want a better example? Paul Johnson. He's won everywhere he's went, but no one's thinking he's the guy to turn your program around. No seriously, Tech fans, NO ONE IS THINKING THAT.
The Georgia fan base is very "plugged in." From Facebook, to blogs, to Twitter, and beyond, you'll be hard pressed to find a fan base that is as active in Social Media as UGA's. That's why the A&M stuff took off like a shot, and became a hot topic in coaching rumor mill circles everywhere.
So, McGarity comes out, shoots down those rumors, and says that Richt and he will begin work on a contract extension. Yet, in a lot of media circles, this was seen as a bad thing. "Why would the AD feel the need to comment publicly on this?" was the question that most of them posed. To some, it showed weakness on McGarity's part.
I say "Kudos to you, sir."
McGarity is active in his leadership. He's personally responded to emails that I have sent him and I know for a fact that I'm one of MANY in that regard. On top of that, those responses have come at all hours of the day. He is a hands-on AD. Personally, I'd rather have an AD with his hands on the athletic department's goings on than his hands on a woman that isn't his wife.
More so, why does Richt need to shoot down the A&M rumors? He came out and said a few things to the media today about Georgia being the place that he wants to be, but that's not his job. His job right now is to find football players for our team. He did his job on Tuesday with the addition of Keith Marshall. Besides, if he shoots down those rumors himself (which he's always done since his name has been linked with ANY job in 10 years), does it really carry more weight than what McGarity would say?
I say it doesn't and it shouldn't. Mike Sherman, the former A&M coach would've loved to have had the backing of his AD and his President. Instead, he said publicly that he anticipated being the head coach of the Aggies in 2012 and found out about his departure at a recruit's home. As it turns out, the head coach really doesn't have a say in whether or not he keeps his job. Who knew?
If McGarity and Richt want to hash this new contract out behind closed doors, I'm all for that. But if McGarity wants to throw out a bone publicly now and then to let fans know where they stand with a head coach who might have rediscovered his mojo, I'm OK with that, too.
So, I'm of the mindset that McGarity is doing the right thing by UGA, its fans, and its coach by updating us on the status of these contract extension talks. Besides, with as much as our fan base has flip-flopped on Richt over the past season, shouldn't we have some appreciation for the job HE is undertaking at the moment?
Until next time kids.