Athens – It has been a pretty long 30 hours or so. That’s about how long I’ve been following the Damon Evans story.
Normally I wouldn’t be as involved as I have since I am no longer on the UGA beat. Nowadays I cover recruiting on the AJC Recruiting Blog and my talented colleague Tim Tucker normally covers the Bulldogs for us. But Tim, like the better part of the working world it seems, is on vacation this week. So I’ve been having to fill in.
I don’t think I’m off base here in saying I don’t care much for covering stories like these. I talked yesterday to virtually every one of the Georgia beat guys and assorted TV and radio reporters, most of whom I have known a long time, over at Evans’ press conference. I can tell you in all honesty that they all feel the same way.
It was a pretty surreal scene over at the Rankin Smith Academic Achievement Center. Nobody was sure what was about to take place. A resignation? Righteous indignation? But I don’t think any of us expected the soul-bearing admission of guilt that we got.
In the course of doing our jobs, we naturally get to know well the subjects we’re covering. In the case of Evans, I’ve actually known him since he signed with Georgia as a wide receiver out of Gainesville in 1989. I’ve always been impressed at how far Damon has come since he was that tall, skinny, backup wideout for Ray Goff.
Of course, I got to know him much better in the years since he returned to UGA, first as an assistant AD and then as the director of athletics. I’ve always found him to be accessible and fairly forthright. I’ve bugged him to death over hirings and firings and disciplinary rulings such as the one that apparently is about to befall him. I’ve seen him deftly preside over board meetings and articulately speak to rooms full of UGA supporters. I’ve been awed by his knowledge of finance and his vision for UGA athletics.
But when things like this happen, all that must be brushed aside to focus objectively on the facts that are available to us and present them to the public in as unfiltered a manner as possible. And that’s what will be done in this case.
It is often said, “with success comes scrutiny.” That may be even more true with failure.
Meanwhile, PR types argue about whether or not a press conference should have been called. And if you do have one, they ask, what should be tone and content of that session? I’ve heard a few wonder whether he should have fielded questions as he did. So moral and ethical judgments aside, do you think Evans and/or UGA has handled this whole situation properly?
What say you all on that note? What were your impressions of Evans as he delivered his five-minute statement and answered questions for about the same about of time? And finally, how do you think it all affects UGA?