Damon Evans is why Dogs will land top coach

I’m not surprised really about the number and tone of the e-mails I received in response to my story on what coaches Georgia might be targeting for their men’s basketball job.

They essentially ranged from, “what are you, crazy or stupid?,” to, “why in the world would [insert coach's name] want to leave [insert school's name] to come to Georgia?” The sad part, some such messages were even from some Georgia fans. Columnists and “college hoops experts” remain intensely cynical about the Bulldogs’ prospects.

It is just these types of reactions that gets Damon Evans out of bed early in the morning. It makes him mad. It motivates him.

I’ve explained this before but let me run over it again. Evans is a basketball guy. He was MVP of his team his senior year at Gainesville High. He played intramural and pickup ball all the way through college into his current tenure as athletics director. He’s the reason there’s a $30 million practice facility attached to Stegeman Coliseum. Building a winning basketball program at Georgia is his passion and, the success or failure therein, will ultimately be his legacy as AD.

You can gather as much from his words but you can see it even more in his eyes and hear it in his voice when he talks about it.

“The commitment here is strong,” he told me the other day. “It’s hard for me to describe how strong that is other than to say we’re serious about building a winning basketball program at Georgia. We’ve got to do this and we’re going to do this right. We’re willing to do what it takes.”

Nevertheless, people still scoff when names like Jeff Capel and Mike Anderson and Dino Gaudio and Jamie Dixon are bandied about. “Why would they leave there for here?,” they say with a roll of the eyes.

Here’s why: Evans oversees a $190 million enterprise at Georgia. It’s one of the most successful athletic departments in the country, both competitively and business-wise. The Bulldogs are cutting edge and young in terms of sports administration. Georgia is about to unveil a blockbuster marketing and media deal with ISP sports and it is Evans who is brokering it. Evans, 39, was named one of Sports Illustrated’s “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports” and one of the “40 Under 40″ best sports executives by Sports Business Journal. He’s a businessman recognized by UGA’s Terry College of Business as “Outstanding Young Alumnus.”

So, to be clear, after Parker Executive Search handles the preliminary ground work on the coaching search, it is Evans that is going to be front and center before these candidates. He’s going to tell them why he wants them to come work for him at Georgia. He is prepared to reach into the Bulldogs’ $60 million budget surplus to pay what it takes for a major coach but that’s not the clincher. He’s going to pledge every bit of support at his disposal to change the basketball culture at Georgia.

So go ahead and scoff. Evans needs some more motivation.

84 comments Add your comment

some sense

March 9th, 2009
11:18 am

BUT…Mr. Evans has got to realize that he’s got a dog coliseum. Nobody wants to play in the same building where livestock shows take place. Gymnasts, o. k.; ball players…NO WAY.

Football Ken

March 9th, 2009
11:23 am

Chip,

You are right on with this article. Knowing Evans personally, it IS his passion to make UGA b-ball a “power”. I have been telling friends, this hire is going to shock people. I believe that DE does think this hire will define his legacy as AD at UGA. Here are some names I KNOW he likes, Few (Gonzaga), Miller (Xavier) and don’t be surprised…J.Thompson (Georgetown).

CurlyHeadedDevil

March 9th, 2009
11:31 am

I agree with your assessment of Evans because he has done a good job so far and appears to know what he is doing in this pursuit.

However, you lost a lot of credibility with me in your last article about Mike Bobo’s being a “rising star” in the coaching profession. Perhaps Bobo would be highly sought after as a high school assistant but not in a top rated college program.

YoungDawg

March 9th, 2009
11:31 am

It’s going to take more than all that! In order for the next coach to be able to sell UGA Basketball Evan will also have to present a plan for getting the Steageasouris replaced or renovated within the next 5 years! The renovations to Sanford & the Indoor Practice Facility need to begin in this time frame as well. Its time for Damon to start backing up his words!

Diamond Dave

March 9th, 2009
11:35 am

There are no longer livestock shows in the Coliseum and hasn’t been for several years.

NewJersey

March 9th, 2009
11:37 am

Silly to think that UGA will EVER be able to hire a proven coach for the long haul. This program is at the absolute best is a mid-tier SEC team. Sure they may get a young coach that has some success early, but then he will bolt for something better.Mark Few was maybe the top choice for Tennessee. He declined a 20,000 seat arena, a huge upgrade/facelift to said arena,a brand new practice facility that was in the works,and an athletic department that is much like UGA in that it is one of a few in the country that operates in the black.Tennessee had to settle for Bruce Pearl.Why would Mark Few come to Athens? What would entice him to go all the way across the country to work in a rogram with the histpry( or lack thereof) at UGA? I don’t see him, nor anytone comparable to him doing that.Sure they may get someone that is close to that, but it would onl be short term while he builds his resume.

Yea Right

March 9th, 2009
11:40 am

If you think UGA is going to hire a proven high caliber coach, then you are very much like that infamous Atlanta rapper….”Ludicrous”

BAMA STAN

March 9th, 2009
11:42 am

UGA will be a regional football power – always top 5 in the SEC – and on occasion – top 3 SEC. Although this decade has been the most fruitful in terms of winning % – still no National Titles.

UGA will not be a basketball power on a national scale. Will be hard to push away DUKE, UNC, UCLA, etc. But UGA can and should make it to the BIG DANCE every year.

ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE!!!!!

Chip Towers

March 9th, 2009
11:49 am

Some sense: When is the last time you were in Stegeman Coliseum, 1985? YoungDawg: The Coliseum has been renovated to the nines.

There is nothing wrong with the arena Georgia’s plays in. I figured it out and wrote a story about it one time but UGA has put millions and millions into that facility to the point that it’s as good or better than most. It has a brand-new floor, brand-new seats, a brand-new state of the art scoreboard and jumbotron. Plans are already underway to expand the concourses and renovated the bathrooms. Otherwise, there’s nothing inside that building to prevent the Bulldogs from winning. If the arena you played in was that important Duke would stink. Arkansas hasn’t won big since it opened Bud Walton Arena. Spending $150 million for a new building isn’t going to guarantee a winning program. . . .

CurlyHeadedDevil: Bobo is clearly the star of the staff according to his boss, Mark Richt, who continually heaps responsibility and rewards on him. I’d say he’s a little better than high school assistant material.

Slim Pickens

March 9th, 2009
11:53 am

Mr. Evans, please pass the Kool Aid!

AGSDawg

March 9th, 2009
11:56 am

Although I would hate to see him leave my hometown school, has anyone heard of Dip Metress at Augusta State. This man has done somewonderful things with the ASU B-ball team in the few short years he has been here. Just my $.02

bdr2757

March 9th, 2009
12:00 pm

chip, you are exactly right. the arena does not matter, especially with all of those upgrades that have been made. it might help sell the program to some recruits, but the place they play in shouldn’t be tops on the list. duke’s arena is old as dirt. the head coach and other recuriters should be what brings a player in. evans will do a good job hiring a talented coach, and i definitely want to see them win soon.

Dawg Alum

March 9th, 2009
12:13 pm

Hope we get a good one!

Cuz

March 9th, 2009
12:16 pm

Bamastan, you sure like throwing kerosene on a burning fire.

UGA'er

March 9th, 2009
12:23 pm

I don’t like it when people from the Univeristy of Florida At Gainsville (UFAG) post negative things about UGA.

ValdostaMike

March 9th, 2009
12:30 pm

Nice article, Chip. I have great confidence AD Evans will get the right person. In your “here’s why” response I believe you left out a few key reasons of note; the in state basketball talent and the SEC TV deal.

I agree with your response regarding Stegman. The renovations have been great and are continuing.

Any young coach can see what UGA did for Tubby. This time, we will be able to keep the next Tubby.

Tom

March 9th, 2009
12:36 pm

One of the many limitations Damon will have to fight is the vetting the candidate will have to pass. Some of the names I’ve seen floated (not just here) would never pass muster, not after receiving an NCAA Infractions Report that included academic fraud and unethical conduct, resulting not only in yet another probation for the University (6th?), but having to vacate quite a number of games.

Ron Roberts

March 9th, 2009
12:37 pm

SO glad you answered the Stegman posts, Chip. I get so sick of reading people bash the Coliseum; they’ve spent (adjoining practice facility included) PLENTY to make it a top-tier facility. Mot people who gripe about it haven’t seen it for themselves (aside from the occasional televised game) in years.

If you need a “building” to make your program a winner, then you’re fooling yourself. LSU just “renovated” the Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge (not a new arena) and here they are, ho-hum, rebounding from their ‘Final Four to the basement’ run of Coach Brady, and they’re back on top of the conference. Tennessee didn’t need a new building; they face-lifted the place – and their program seems to be doing fine.

Duke wins with a far-worse building than what we have; I dare say Florida’s building isn’t all that special, but it DOES house two very recent national championship trophies. And as Chip noted, Arkansas’ new facility hasn’t done squat for their program.

The master plan (I think there’s still a link at OnlineAthens.com) calls for a FANTASTIC concourse and outer renovation of Stegman, as well. But real FANS would show up and pack a barn for a winning program.

Captain

March 9th, 2009
12:37 pm

It just tickles me to death to read the “Anti Univ of Georgia” posts from you people, I love your opinions regarding the Men’s basketball program and our future head coach. Keep selling Damon short boys.

Players aren’t really concerned about the seats we fans have, nor the concessions, or restrooms. You see we have the best ‘digs’ in the country with the practice facility. Player’s lockerrooms, lounge area, training and workout facility are state of the art; coaches offices, meeting rooms are the best. When it comes to facilities, Stegeman isn’t an issue. If a great facility was the make or break on success, Duke wouldn’t be in the Top 100 and N C St would never lose.

To you, “some sense” you evidently don’t have “any sense”. Livestock shows haven’t taken place in Stegeman Coliseum for some time. If that’s supposed to be a problem, pray tell how Philips Arena fares for the Hawks and Thrashers with a Circus playing for 10 days, or how the Dome can accomodate the Falcons after a Moto-cross, or Reliant Field in Houston after Wrestlemania? They are called “MULTI PURPOSE” facilities for a reason.

Do not discount Damon Evans in his quest to bring in a great young coach. He is going to do it, so all of you “Anti Univ of Georgia” folks go ahead today, get your prescriptions filled for your anxiety and depression medication, stock up on the Advil, Tylenol and aspirin, because you ain’t going to be happy and the migraines will set the day Damon holds the press conference to announce our new man. Oh, it’s going to happen, he’s going big time, you can count on it, be prepared for a “name” hire who will take the Men’s basketball program from the basement to the penthouse.

jonatuga

March 9th, 2009
12:38 pm

Chip,

As a former manager for the team and someone who is still close to the program, great article! This is exactly the argument I have been trying to make, although much less eloquently, since before “big daddy” was fired. By the way, great to see you saturday and I can’t wait for ya’ll to start covering the road games again next year!

mexdawg

March 9th, 2009
12:42 pm

I say go after Tubby Smith.He’s the only guy that’s proven he can win at Georgia.I agree with several of the other bloggers that if we get a good young coach he will stay for awile and then leave.Tubby has already been down that road.He would probally finish his career at GEORGIA.He know’s the confrence and still has recruiting contacts in Georgia.There is no other coach better qualified to coach at GEORGIA.Damon is a smart guy and will make the right decision.

Lew Hege

March 9th, 2009
12:43 pm

As Duke and N. C. State have proven, the age or size of the building is not important. N. C. State has the best arena in college basketball. Duke has an old, small place. Great players will come to play for a great coach.

tackjr

March 9th, 2009
12:44 pm

Bobby Knight is the only coach that can do anything with our program…

Lake Oconee Dawg

March 9th, 2009
12:56 pm

Enter your comments here

newdirectionnow

March 9th, 2009
12:57 pm

how about finding a new basketball coach for GT too while your at it

jp

March 9th, 2009
12:58 pm

IF he wants to make the best hire possible than he has to go to Memphis and hire John Calipari. The guys is the best recruiter in the nation bar none. He can also get his players to win and play hard. The only restraint might be the money DE wants to spend. John has to be tired of not getting any love at Memphis. With the same recruits he has had over the years at UGA, he would be a instant legend in the state.

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 9th, 2009
12:59 pm

in other words, no one wants the lousy job.

Lake Oconee Dawg

March 9th, 2009
12:59 pm

UGA is headed in the right direction with Mr. Evans leading the athletic program. I am glad to see he is taking his time to hire the right coach for a very inportant position. Coach Knight could have been the “one” to turn the program around and put thing straight around the b-ball program.

Tom

March 9th, 2009
1:00 pm

jp, Calipari makes Bob Huggins look honest.

WTF???

March 9th, 2009
1:00 pm

Bama Stan, Go on the Bama blogs & talk about fat ba#tard Fluker or something. Hell, go see how many sprints you can run across I20 before you get ran over.

Huh?

March 9th, 2009
1:03 pm

It’s boring in here. I hate Tech. It’s all I can ever think about all day every day. I’m going over to their blog to talk trash. Anyone want to join me?

BAMA STAN

March 9th, 2009
1:08 pm

JP – I agree that John Calipari would be a great hire. I only hope that we hire him in Tuscaloosa.

Memphis is a pretty darn good basketball school – it’s in their DNA. and Calapari has been an excellent fit there. Maybe hard to get him out of there at this point in his career.

Too Easy

March 9th, 2009
1:11 pm

Afbamastan + Ramble = case of the runs.

Gen Neyland

March 9th, 2009
1:22 pm

BAMA STAN : Great percentage shot at the buzzer yesterday. Dang thing musta had eyes… On to the SEC Tournament.

Cameron

March 9th, 2009
1:27 pm

Why would a top coach at another school want to leave and come to UGA? A couple simple reasons: Randolph Morris, Gani Lawal, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Allen, Louis WIlliams, Mike Mercer, Howard Thompkins, Jarvaris Crittenton, Jodie Meeks, Josh Smith, J.J. Hickson, and Dwight Howard. All from Georgia. Get the top talent in Georgia to stay at UGA and you will compete for National Championships. Tradition is not on our side, but kids will come for the right coach. Kids these days want to win and go to the NBA. They can do this anywhere. They do not have to go to UNC, Duke, Kentucky, or Kansas. They will play for a top coach no matter where he is at and will want to win.

NYC DAWG

March 9th, 2009
1:28 pm

I hope DE can attract some top quality. Before they think about renovations to Stegman, maybe they should put students behind the visiting team’s basket during the 2nd half instead of sports writers. I guess they’re too afraid of students rushing the court, but c’mon Georgia fans are probably the least likely to rush the court/field out of anyone in the SEC! Get the students in there to give our team support rather than sports writers who just sit there the whole time not making any noise!

thom

March 9th, 2009
1:31 pm

Whoever he hires will be better than the last “coach”.

Cameron

March 9th, 2009
1:31 pm

We are not going to hire Tubby Smith and we will not hire Bobby Knight. Nor, should we. We need to hire a good young coach and let him realize that he can and will win here. Then, there is no guarantee he will leave. If he does, then there will be others in line that will want to come here as well once they see you can win here. Any time we have brought in a good coach he has won. Tubby and Harrick both won. Insert Harrick joke here.

BLAZER

March 9th, 2009
1:32 pm

WHERE IS RON JIRSA??

tom

March 9th, 2009
1:32 pm

Only way to go is up!

dawgfan1911

March 9th, 2009
1:37 pm

I think Mark Few from Ganzaga or Miller from Xavier would be perfect for the bulldawgs. These guys can recruit and something tells me that Mark Few is ready to enter a big time conference like the SEC used to be and make a name for himself. The hire will probably be made near final four time when coaches have been eliminated. I am not sure what his name is but Creighton’s coach would also be a good choice. Not sure if he is an effective recruiter, but the guy can flat out coach, he turned down Arkansas a few years ago, if offered, I wonder if he would take the Ga job.

PHIL

March 9th, 2009
1:49 pm

The players at Memphis can’t get into school here, jp.

AltamahaDawg

March 9th, 2009
1:50 pm

The gators seem to do pretty well playing in a air bag, built 20 yrs ago for a fraction of what the UGA practice building cost.

JB

March 9th, 2009
1:51 pm

If we win, the masses will come. It’s really just that simple.

Think about how that place was when Tubby was winning.

The talent in the state of Ga is there, it’s just a question of getting a guy in there who is good at what he does.

If we belly up with the cash, and I think we will, we’ll become a two sport school and there’s no real question in my mind. I look forward to that.

HBTD!!!!

Ben

March 9th, 2009
1:55 pm

Wow. How delusional can a fan base be? The University of Georgia’s current RPI is 188. The program is going no where. You are a mid-major playing in the 6th best conference in the country.

How about teams like Rutgers, San Jose State and Jackson State have better RPI numbers than you?

The building may be a hindrance to some but the interest is just not there.

Georgia State will continue to ascend under Rod Barnes and Hewitt will once again save his job with a NCAA birth in 2009-10. Where will Georgia be? 14 wins?

Go get a guy like Anthony Grant, Bret Campbell or Cliff Warren. You’ll be glad you did.

AceDawg

March 9th, 2009
1:55 pm

UGA can make a winning program, but the fans sure do need to step up at the same time. I’d go to UGA basketball games if only I didn’t live 10 hours away. I know winning helps, as was shown by sold out crowds during the height of the Herrick era, but the Dawgs shouldn’t have to play in front of smaller crowds in college than they did in high school!! A great crowd helps many teams win extra games each year. Help them out Dawgs!

jp

March 9th, 2009
1:55 pm

i don’t know if you know this phil but athletes don’t have the same entrance requirements. The other thing is we hire calipari to lock down the state. The players in this state usually meet the requirements to get in such as Al Farouq and Tony Woods last year. We have the players in the state to win a national title but the question is can we get them to come here. The problem has always been recruiting for this school and calipari solves that problem. He’s def dirty but we have to stipulate in his contract that if he cheats than he owes us a ton of money or something like that.

JB

March 9th, 2009
2:00 pm

Music City Dawg

March 9th, 2009
2:03 pm

Chip,

The Diamond Dogs are off to a historical start, and it’s crickets from the AJC. Why are we still talking about the terrible basketball team?

Chip Towers

March 9th, 2009
2:04 pm

By the way, it was just released that Georgia is now ranked No. 1 in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll. The Diamond Dogs are, of course, 12-0, heading into a two-game set with Lemoyne College.