Mark Richt won 10 straight games last season, brought Georgia to the SEC championship for the first time in six years and generally allayed fears that the football program was starting to circle the drain.
But he is not going to get a raise, and that pretty much indicates where the bar has been set in Athens.
Richt’s contract extension is still not finalized. It unofficially has been stuck on “almost finished” longer than any document in American history.
The most intriguing part of the new deal won’t be contract length but the amount of Richt’s buyout, which is the best indicator of somebody’s job security. (It’s much easier to fire a coach with a $2 million buyout than a $10 million buyout.) But athletic director Greg McGarity confirmed Thursday that Richt won’t be receiving a raise in the new deal.
Speaking to the UGA’s athletic board at annual meetings in Greensboro, McGarity said Richt’s contract will include increased bonuses for SEC and BCS championships and simliar accomplishments. But the coach’s salary will remain at about $2.8 million.
“We want to reward excellence,” McGarity said, and if you have been paying attention, those words won’t surprise you.
McGarity recently fired gymnastics coach Jay Clark after only three years. Last football season, when many fans were going gaga over the Bulldogs’ 10-game winning streak, McGarity pointed out that the team was benefiting in part from a soft schedule. He was correct. But it nonetheless was surprising and refreshing to hear an administrator be so candid.
A recent story on McGarity by Chip Towers examined how he studied under Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who dismissed at least 15 coaches while McGarity was in Gainesville.
Foley was quoted in the piece, saying: “All I know is when Greg and I worked together, one thing that he and I talked about — and I’ve got to think it’s part of his management philosophy — is you don’t necessarily judge a program on where it is today. I think you judge it on where it’s going to be or if it’s as good as it can be. Sometimes you evaluate programs and they may be OK. But there are certain places in the country — and Florida’s one and I think Georgia is one — where being OK isn’t satisfactory to people in leadership roles.”
Georgia has a chance to be pretty good this season and again will benefit from a schedule that will avoid Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. But high expectations means a higher bar for success. The fact Richt won’t be given a raise indicates McGarity believes he still has something to prove.
By Jeff Schultz