While Doug Gillett was putting on his pessimist’s hat in West Georgia, MaconDawg was breaking out the pessimist’s accessories in Middle Georgia, and I was stirring up trouble in metro Atlanta, good news for the Red and Black was breaking out all over the Sunshine State.
In Jacksonville, a new contract favorable to Georgia is on its way to the city council, which will keep the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in its traditional home and keep the Bulldog fans in South Georgia happy. In Gainesville, Jeremy Foley appears to be on the verge of losing his right-hand man, as Greg McGarity evidently is homeward bound. Since David Pollack asked what we thought, I don’t mind telling you that both of these are hugely positive developments for the ‘Dawgs.
How good has the day’s news been? I’m not only on the same page with Michael Adams, I’m on the same page with Mark Bradley! Between one sunset and the next, Georgia has preserved one of its longstanding traditions, secured its critical recruiting beachhead in North Florida, hired the best possible candidate to head its athletics program, and swiped a top-flight administrator from our biggest division rival.
Assuming that all goes according to plan (and sometimes all does not), what is on the docket for our new athletic director? Here are a few matters which will require McGarity’s attention:
Making coaching changes. No, I’m not talking about Mark Richt, wiseacre. As Paul Westerdawg has noted, McGarity’s tenure is apt to include the retirements of Jack Bauerle and Andy Landers. He also will be charged with keeping Mark Fox in the fold or finding his replacement if his success in Athens leads him on to greener pastures. Finally, there is the very real possibility that McGarity may be called upon to make some tough decisions regarding Jay Clark and David Perno. Eighteen years of working for Jeremy Foley did not train Greg McGarity to tolerate mediocrity, so Coach Clark could be another couple of regional-round exits away from Zooking himself. We could learn quickly how much patience our new athletic director possesses.
Upgrading facilities. Damon Evans left Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall awash in cash---heck, he even saved the athletic administration a boatload of money by committing career suicide in a way that minimized the expense of his own severance package---and Greg McGarity has seen firsthand the importance of being at the forefront in the SEC arms race. I strongly suspect McGarity will not be inclined to fund an indoor football practice facility---he knows from working with Urban Meyer that first-class operations don’t need the draw of an ornamental luxury largely lacking in practical utility---but he may opt for refurbishing Foley Field (not named for his old boss, by the way), particularly if he needs to lure a big-name baseball coach to Athens.
Getting the football program back on top. Not that anyone’s counting, but, while Greg McGarity was in Gainesville, the Florida Gators attended ten SEC Championship Games, captured seven conference crowns, and won a trio of national titles. The Sunshine State Saurians did this despite having to replace the man who up until that point had been the most successful coach in their history, and they did it without so much as a serious whiff of an NCAA scandal after having spent the 1980s running a program so dirty it made Pat Dye go, "Damn!" Given McGarity’s experience at Florida, it will be particularly interesting to see how committed he is to keeping the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, as well as whether he will continue his predecessor’s dedication to stout scheduling or soften up the Bulldogs’ non-conference slate so it more closely resembles the Gators’.
Recording a new "don’t drink and drive" public service announcement before the season opener. I mean, obviously.
I still regret the sad and sordid circumstances that put us in a position to need a new athletic director in the first place, but this is a home run hire that puts us light years ahead of where we were when we were all wondering who the heck Courtney Furhmann was. If this works out---and there is every reason to believe it will---Greg McGarity could replace Theron Sapp in the hearts and minds of Bulldog Nation as "The Man Who Broke The Drought."
Welcome home, Greg.