McGarity steps into dream, as Georgia moves past nightmare

Greg McGarity and Michael Adams both knew McGarity probably wasn't ready for the Georgia job in 2004. (AP photo)

Greg McGarity (with Michael Adams) realizes he probably wasn't ready for the Georgia job in 2004.

(UPDATED: 7 p.m.)

ATHENS – Greg McGarity didn’t walk into an old house Friday and declare, “These couches need to go, rip up the carpeting, knock down that wall, and why does the garage door open every time I turn on the blender?”

Greg McGarity walked into a mansion. Shangri La. Eden. Bang on the walls and gold coins will fall out of the ceiling. Georgia’s athletic department is a stuffed ATM. It accrues wealth from its football program, the SEC and its very own $93 million marketing rights deal. Major expansion and renovation projects are either recently completed or well underway. Hey, it turns out they even have a basketball team.

Welcome back to Athens, Greg McGarity. Your dream job awaits.

“I’m six or seven years older now,” said McGarity, referencing his failed candidacy to become Georgia’s athletic director in 2004. “I’m more mature. This time, for whatever reason, I felt better prepared. The timing felt right.”

For everybody. The Athens-born McGarity  is in Wonderland. Things weren’t so idyllic in 2004 before Damon Evans’ hiring.

Remember? It was a mess. Evans was a terrific choice as athletic director, at least until his personal life derailed one night in Buckhead. Evans brought new levels of wealth, dynamic leadership and Mark Fox. But when Evans was hired over several candidates, including McGarity, nobody could be sure. University president Michael Adams was a borderline pariah on his own campus. He burned bridges by forcing Vince Dooley’s exit. Some faculty members famously took a “no confidence” vote.

It follows that many didn’t trust his choice for athletic director (even if Evans was supported by Dooley).

Some were bothered by Evans’ age (he was only 34).

Some, from the unfortunate segment of the populace, were bothered by his skin color.

Many, given the backdrop of Adams’ tenure, thought he would be a puppet.

But Evans turned out to be the right choice then, just as McGarity is the right choice now.

Adams curiously referred to a “postpartum depression” after Evans’ downfall, as if the episode gave birth to a Bulldogs’ nightmare, which I suppose it did.  But while the stain left by Evans’ demons will remain on his resume forever, it will quickly vanish at Georgia. The program is too strong to expect otherwise.

McGarity is the new yet familiar face the Dogs needed after Evans, yet he inherits a program that doesn’t really need fixing (strangely, also thanks to Evans).

Georgia was a tougher job six years ago. McGarity wasn’t ready. Adams knew it then and McGarity realizes it now, even if being turned down in 2004 “felt like a shot to the gut.”

So he read leadership books. He learned patience. “I’m more mature now,” he said.

Adams had a convincing three-hour lunch interview with McGarity recently. Maybe more importantly, he had “multiple” discussions with Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who runs possibly the strongest athletic department in the country (something even the most devout Bulldogs’ fan must admit).

For the last 18 years, when Foley walked out of his office, he could turn left and be at McGarity’s door in five feet. McGarity has been Foley’s numbers guy. That’s not to say he can’t be the creative, think outside-the-box kind of guy. He’s just never been given that chance before.

Asked if Foley pressed for McGarity’s hiring, Adams smiled and said: “Our relationship is such that I wouldn’t say he ‘pressed me.’ But he gave him a very, very strong endorsement. He felt that he owed it to Greg, but he also thought Greg deserved everything coming to him.”

Adams, ever since those early missteps at Georgia, has gotten the reputation of being a guy who would do things his way, regardless of what people think. But the fact is, he’s much more likely to stick his finger in the air now and check for wind direction before making a call. He showed that two years ago when he proposed a college football playoff, and again recently when he moved quickly to force Evans’ exit after an avalanche of negative publicity.

McGarity may have been the popular choice from day one, but he also was the obvious choice. Adams handled this entire process flawlessly, even joking Friday, “Anybody who spent 18 years at Florida has suffered enough.”

He talked about “a healing process.” But the fact is, this thing has pretty much scabbed over for Georgia. For Evans, the wound will linger.

211 comments Add your comment

clickdawg

August 13th, 2010
3:50 pm

dawgsfan1990

August 13th, 2010
3:51 pm

Well said Jeff. Missed ya. GO DAWGS!

Smitty

August 13th, 2010
3:51 pm

First?

August 13th, 2010
3:52 pm

Welcome home, Greg!

Bruce Mac

August 13th, 2010
3:52 pm

Bubba Big Lips

August 13th, 2010
3:53 pm

Bubba Big Lips

August 13th, 2010
3:53 pm

AARRRRGHGHHGHHH!!!!!

tc

August 13th, 2010
3:56 pm

It is a great choice. Hopefully more UGA fans will show more support for Adams. The guy has done a great job for uga and I support him 100%.

Fed Up With Wren (Again)

August 13th, 2010
3:58 pm

I don’t give a flip about the new AD, but I’m so pleased that you are still alive, Jeff.

Pepe

August 13th, 2010
3:59 pm

Sounds good to me…, what a night this is shaping up to be: AD issue resolved, Falcons preseason, Georgia Little League WS, and the Braves holding on to the division lead.

Good thing I got a covered patio…because I feel like firing up the grill for tonight’s games.

Usmc Dawg

August 13th, 2010
4:02 pm

Jeff,

Damon did a fine job, but you are going “soft” on him and praising him because he is black and you are a “Left Coast” Liberal who treats black people as inferior and holds them to a lower standard.
just saying…

Shug

August 13th, 2010
4:02 pm

It’s good to hear a nice word about Damon Evans.

uga_b

August 13th, 2010
4:05 pm

Jeff, just a quick suggestion: add Xanadu. I just always liked the word. I will also accept Elysium. No, on Utopia or Arcadia. Those words sound like regurgitation.

Flowery Branch Dawg

August 13th, 2010
4:06 pm

Your are right on Jeff. Damon was an excellent Athletic Director!!! We will always appreciate him and he was very popular in his job. We — The Dawgnation pray that Damon gets his life back together, salvages his marriage and once again excels greatly in his career. He will always be one of us! Everyone makes a few mistakes in their life. Most of us though don’t make national headlines because most of us don’t become as prominent and successful as Damon Evans had. I believe Damon will be a better person because of his.

McGarity is an excellent choice for our new AD. I feel that he will be as successful as Damon Evans was and our athletic program at UGA has a very bright future.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vic Webb, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Evans a big reason Georgia AD job is dream-like for McGarity http://bit.ly/bCnK3n [...]

not bubba

August 13th, 2010
4:10 pm

not even close bubba

saban

August 13th, 2010
4:10 pm

What happened to the red panties?

Did the new AD get them as a bonus?

bass stringerfish

August 13th, 2010
4:11 pm

Recruit, Hire and Retain quality people. The Braves have done it for years, The Falcons are finally seeing the benefits and now UGA perpetuates its reputation. Well done.

DawginLex

August 13th, 2010
4:12 pm

Adams just went up a few notches for me.

If the guy is honest, ethical and upright and has solid character, the rest will take care of itself.

clickdawg

August 13th, 2010
4:13 pm

classy post flowery branch dawg, thanks.

Still@theBAR

August 13th, 2010
4:16 pm

I rank as good as UGA this year I an #20

KSU OWL

August 13th, 2010
4:18 pm

“Evans was black, which bothered that unfortunate segment of the populace.”

Those are the folks on this blog like ’saban’ who now have cover to pull their hoods out of the closet and bash on a black man. Sad, but I guess it makes life in the trailer park more bearable.

SuperB

August 13th, 2010
4:19 pm

Known Greg since ‘74, great choice. Now Greg: Let’s get the Hell out of Jacksonville!!!!

Beast from the East

August 13th, 2010
4:23 pm

Jeff,
Welcome back!

I think Adams made the right choice and I would think that McGarity is the man to lead the Dawg Nation for the next 15-20 years. Seems like a very talented and well-rounded individual that will be going home to a place he loves. What more could you ask for?

Spurrier

August 13th, 2010
4:24 pm

Hey Saban are you jealous cause other folks besides you wear red panties

Bo in North Carolina

August 13th, 2010
4:24 pm

Flowery Branch Dawg. Amen! or as ole Furman Bisher would have said, Selah!

Uncle Rico

August 13th, 2010
4:24 pm

“Evans was black, which bothered that unfortunate segment of the populace”

Jeff, you may be correct in that statement — actually, you almost certainly are correct. However, given that you are a journalist, I am curious as to what is your factual basis of such a statement? Not meant to be a flame, but I just don’t recall seeing, reading or hearing about any blow back regarding Damon’s race…but perhaps I missed those stories.

My point is this, we have enough real racial issues still present without gratiuitously introducing them or just assuming that there must of have been a racial issue somewhere. That said, if you have facts on this, I am genuinely interested in what events I missed.

Dawgtards ruin this state

August 13th, 2010
4:25 pm

That dream will soon change to nightmare we he realizes what a drunken mess was left for him to clean up. Hello NCAA, Hello probation!

Bubba Big Lips

August 13th, 2010
4:27 pm

im always first in my world

Uncle Rico

August 13th, 2010
4:27 pm

Also, please don’t reference the idiocy on display by the mouth breathers who post on the AJC blogs….most of which are rival fans who attempt to race bait or make ridiculous postings to stir the pot….looking for real facts in which there was a segment of the fan base, faculty, boosters, coaches, peers, etc., who made Damon’s tenure a racial issue.

Dawgtards ruin this state

August 13th, 2010
4:28 pm

“Evans was black, which bothered that unfortunate segment of the populace”

That means thUGA fans are racist.

Tim

August 13th, 2010
4:28 pm

And Damon Evans wasn’t a puppet for Adams and Leebern, Jeff? And I wouldn’t exactly call Evans a terrific AD. I’d sure like to show my backside the way he did and walk out with nearly $238,000. He shouldn’t have been paid a penny. Also, Mark Fox has only coached one season. He had a losing record and finished in last place. His first UGA team also lost to Wofford. While he may become an excellent coach for UGA, he’s isn’t Bobby Knight or Dean Smith just yet. McGarity may not even be Adams choice. Adams was under much pressure to hire him. Dooley would have been the no-brain choice, but McGarity should do very well.

Beast from the East

August 13th, 2010
4:29 pm

Uncle Rico,
I don’t have any comments saved anywhere, but I do recall seeing numerous “off color” remarks in regards to Damon. Unfortunate, but it is a reality.

Uncle Rico

August 13th, 2010
4:31 pm

Jeff — The only racial issues that I have seen anywhere regarding Damon’s race is in the moronic postings to AJC blogs, as evidenced by mouth breathers such as ‘Dawgtards’ and other race baiting rival fans/haters.

Uncle Rico's pimp

August 13th, 2010
4:33 pm

Iraq Dawg

August 13th, 2010
4:33 pm

Learn to spell, Saban. Use the “humpback, humpback, crooked letter, crooked letter” approach if you need to.

LA Dawg

August 13th, 2010
4:34 pm

Uncle Rico – Jeff is not a journalist…he’s a columnist meaning he gets paid to write his opinion. So perhaps it’s you who needs to check factual basis.

Uncle Rico

August 13th, 2010
4:34 pm

Beast, surely you are not referencing the idiocy on display by anonymous blog posters, many of which are made by trolls from rival schools who are obviously trying to stir the pot or make UGA look like racist….these are as credible as me creating a UF-based screen name and making racist comments or asking for Urban to be fired…hardly credible….I am looking for real issues with his race from alumni, boosters, faculty, coaches, peers, etc., not faceless, nameless blog posters who can stir up and say anything.

Uncle Rico

August 13th, 2010
4:37 pm

LA Dawg — Of course he is an opinion writer, but he is still a journalist and not a novel/fiction writer. Presumably, he should have facts shaping his opinion or his references to news, which is what he reported. Him saying he did not like Damon because of race would be an opinion. His saying people did not like Damon because of race would be reporting. There is a difference and he has some standards by which he does his job — or at least we could hope.

Pago Pago Dawg

August 13th, 2010
4:38 pm

Can we just beat UF/UT and UK all in one year?!

Beast from the East

August 13th, 2010
4:43 pm

Uncle Rico,
You are more tham likely correct in that much of that came from rivals trying to stir the pot. I just stated that I do remember seeing it numerous times in the past. As fas as making racist or anti-Urban comments from a UF-based screen name, I say do your worst. You certainly wouldn’t be the first nor the last.

Paddy

August 13th, 2010
4:46 pm

To those of you who said Damon Evans will always be one of us, good call. You are right, always a Dawg. To those of you that said Damon Evans made a mistake, bad call. You are wrong. DAMON EVANS DID NOT MAKE A MISTAKE! We all have and we all will continue to make mistakes. You don’t lose your job and possible marriage because you made a MISTAKE! Damon Evans made a DECISION, there is a big difference. He was paid big bucks to make good decisions. A terrible waste, he was a great rising star on campus.

St. Richt

August 13th, 2010
4:47 pm

Where is the column about the 2 ex-Yellow Jackets atop the leaderboard at the PGA Championship?? Its great Georgia found a replacement for their disgraced AD and all, but you would think Kuchar and Moulder would get some love here locally.

Fall is in the air

August 13th, 2010
4:49 pm

G Mc will be a phenomenal hire. Damon was a great hire, also. He had a horrible lapse in judgment, who knows if it was the first time or not?
At any rate, the best part about August is that the world famous Friday Predictions column is right around the corner. This is the year that the Chihuahua’s eat Gator meat.
Go Dawgs

BG

August 13th, 2010
4:54 pm

Welcome home Greg. I know you have missed the beautiful city of Athens and the historic University of Georgia.

Still@theBAR

August 13th, 2010
4:59 pm

It is Friday the 13th! Where is a pic of THE COUNT and 1 Hot Chick?

G8TR

August 13th, 2010
5:00 pm

Put this in the file under keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. Score another one for the Gators.

dawgfan

August 13th, 2010
5:01 pm

I could be wrong but I don’t remember hardly anyone saying anything about Evans’ race. I really don’t, not publicly at least. That was a pretty unnecessary comment Schultz. It certainly makes it seem that you are attempting to stir the pot and portray UGA fans in a bad light.

What support do you have for such a comment Schultz?

Real dawg

August 13th, 2010
5:07 pm

Hopefully, he brought some inside secrets on how to beat florida. I’m tired of these blowout losses every year. Richt better win this year with all that talent, or he can hit the road with damon evans.

Athens, Georgia

August 13th, 2010
5:10 pm

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Nesbitt for Heisman
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