A pretty good day in Athens, to say the least.
Word leaked Thursday that Michael Adams will indeed call Greg McGarity home from Gatorland to run the University of Georgia’s athletics program, Mark Richt announced that two-way player Branden Smith is “academically in good standing” for the season, and UGA was named the 19th best public college by Forbes magazine, 10 spots above where it ranked last year.
Only downer Thursday was word that senior safety Quintin Banks’ gimpy knees are forcing him to hang it up as a player, but at least he’ll still be contributing to the team as a student coach.
Frankly, I was a bit surprised by the speed with which the decision on Georgia’s new athletic director was made, though as a fellow native Athenian I was also delighted with the choice of McGarity, whom I started touting for the job as soon as it became clear Damon Evans needed to go. Back in 1988 when Greg was first named an assistant AD at Georgia by Vince Dooley, I remember saying to a friend, “Greg’s going to be athletic director one day.” He was my first choice when Dooley was forced into retirement, though I admittedly wasn’t displeased with the selection of Evans at the time. But he was definitely my second choice behind McGarity.
Getting a new AD hired before the football season starts is a smart move on the part of Adams and his brain trust. It certainly will reduce the public relations damage from the Evans debacle. More than that, though, McGarity grew up a Dawg and understands the Bulldog Nation, which will be a big advantage in terms of a smooth transition. And his nearly 20 years as the right-hand man to Jeremy Foley at the University of Florida means he knows the ins and outs of running an ultra successful athletics program.
McGarity no doubt will face challenges at UGA. While the department is in great shape overall financially, some of its individual programs have fallen short of expectations. Competition in the SEC is tougher than ever. Eventually, coaches will have to be fired and new ones hired. Deals will have to be struck to hold on to the successful ones.
But the idea of a hard worker and steady rock of a guy like McGarity making those decisions fills me with confidence as a UGA alum and supporter.
Yes, indeed, a good day for Dawgs everywhere.
Some fans and bloggers have zeroed in on Mike Bobo’s less than enthusiastic appraisal of Aaron Murray’s first scrimmage as something to worry about. But I’m among those who saw Bobo’s comments as a good thing.
While Richt had indicated right after the scrimmage that he was generally pleased with Murray’s progress, after looking at the film Bobo pronounced himself “a little disappointed” in the redshirt freshman QB. He said Murray “didn’t trust the pocket” and criticized “a bonehead decision in the red zone, throwing it up for grabs.”
I’d much rather have Bobo putting Murray publicly on notice of where he needs to improve than have the sort of see-no-evil boosterism that characterized last year’s preseason appraisal of Joe Cox. While I don’t think Bobo will ever approach Steve Spurrier for boxing his quarterbacks about the ears verbally, it never hurts to let a young player know he needs to step it up.
Find me on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter.