Athens – OK, before we start another week, let’s clean out an overfull notebook from last week. . . .
– UGA President Michael Adams sat in on interviews with five candidates for the basketball coaching job and said he was extremely impressed with Mark Fox. But Adams stressed that the hiring decision was purely athletics director Damon Evans’. “What I did was sit back and listen,” Adams said. “Damon conducted the interviews. I don’t think I asked any candidate more than two or three questions.” Adams said he was there to show the importance the institution places on the job. ”I felt it was my role in this process to demonstrate the university’s commitment to basketball,” Adams said. “It’s why we built the [practice] facility we built, why we were willing to pay what it took to hire the right coach.”
– There was no quibbling over salary when Evans made his offer to Fox. “Six years at $1.3 million is not bad, is it?” Evans said. “I thought about hiring myself as the basketball coach.”
– One criticism of the hire is that Fox has no experience coaching – or, more to the point, recruiting – in the Southeast. Evans’ response: “Guys move all over and do great jobs. I think if [Connecticut’s] Jim Calhoun came down South to coach, he’d do just fine.”
– I asked Fox on Friday for three things Georgia fans would be interested to know about him. The first three he mentioned were in Saturday’s paper. Fox then added a fourth, which I’ll pass along here: “I’m very close with Tex Winter,” the long-time college and pro coach who wrote the book (literally) on the triangle offense. “When I was an assistant at Kansas State [where Winter coached decades earlier], his son still lived in Manhattan [Kan.], and he’d come back every year to visit. The first year, I said, ‘Coach, I want to talk to you about the triangle.’ So he threw me the book and said, ‘OK, I’ll talk to you in a year. Read the book!’ So he came back the next year, and we sat there for about 10 hours. It was supposed to be a breakfast meeting, and it ended up being all day. We have maintained a phenomenal relationship. He came to Nevada on a couple of occasions to watch our team and watch tape with us. He has been very generous with his genius.” Winter, now 87, is a consultant with the LA Lakers.
– The first thing Georgia’s basketball players did when they got got the news that Fox was their new coach? Googled him, of course.
– Things were hopping around the UGA athletics complex on Friday, and Mark Richt was showing up everywhere. He was spotted at the basketball press conference, at the men’s tennis match vs. Auburn and at the baseball game vs. LSU. He still found time for football practice.
– How big has Georgia baseball become? Well, a couple of hours before Saturday’s sold-out game vs. LSU, I saw tailgaters and scalpers near Foley Field.
– One complaint Richt repeatedly has had about spring football practice: defensive players dropping balls that should be interceptions. “We had four balls hit our hands on defense [in Friday’s practice]. Absolutely should have been four picks. And we got zero,” Richt said. “If four balls hit our hands on defense in a game and we catch them, we’re going to win. . . The defense has got to take as serious an attitude toward ball security as the offense.”
– Wondering if Georgia will redshirt freshman QBs Aaron Murray and/or Zach Mettenberger in the fall? There will be no answer soon. Richt says he’s very pleased with how both have performed this spring, but “I’m not going to be in a rush right now to say either one would be redshirted or not. When it gets closer to the moment of truth, we’ve just got to decide. . . . I don’t know if it’ll be a tough decision or not, because I don’t know what will happen in the meantime.”
– By all accounts, the defense dominated the early part of Saturday’s closed scrimmage. “But toward the end . . . we let some third-down-and-longs kind of kill us,” linebacker Rennie Curran said. “It only takes a couple of guys to kill the whole entire defense. So we just got to have everybody on the same page — make sure everybody is executing.” The breakdowns apparently came after some starters were out. “When starters get out, there can’t be any dropoff in production,” Curran said. “We’re all going to the same place at the end of the year.”
– Now, what’s on your mind at the start of this week?