McGarity: ‘We are working as hard as we can to turn this ship around’

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity wants to see “improvement in all areas” from the football program this year. And he’d like the public to see more displays of coach Mark Richt’s passion for his job.

Those were among McGarity’s comments in a conference call that was held Thursday to answer reporters’ questions about the state of the Georgia football program, which last week lost to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl to finish with its first losing record (6-7) in 14 years.

McGarity previously had answered the biggest question, saying Richt would return as coach. Here are highlights of what McGarity had to say Thursday:

Q: What did you think of Richt’s end-of-season news conference on Wednesday?

A: I think he started to show the passion he has for the job. Mark is not the type who is going to get out of his skin, so to speak, as far as the way he handles himself. But I know in conversations we have had all through the season and especially in the last two or three days, his passion has really come through. . . . I think that’s something Mark needs to do more of –- show his passion and express it in ways that perhaps he hasn’t done before. I encourage him to do that. And I thought he addressed a number of issues and basically stated what he wanted to do moving forward.

Q: What are your expectations for the football team next fall?

A: Improvement. Improvement in all areas. We want to see improvement in discipline; we want to see improvement in leadership; we want a passionate team. We want every member of our staff, regardless of what sport it is, to be passionate about being here. We want individuals that are invested in our program, that want to do everything it takes to get us to the next level.. . . We are stressing two focal points as an association in 2011. One of those is to have a sense of urgency in everything we do. And [the other is to] have a very high level of accountability [with] every employee we have. . . .

Q: Would you ever establish an ultimatum – a certain number of wins – that Richt or any coach would need to reach [to keep his or her job]?

A: No, across the board. In our first meeting we had with all of our coaches [after McGarity's hire as AD] back in September, that was one point that was made very clear. All our coaches know what is expected of them; they are expected to compete for championships, to be in the hunt. So I’m not here to put a figure on number of wins and everything. We just want to see improvement. We want to see a program that is headed in the right direction, all our programs. That’s the goal. That’s what we’re doing. And if we see shortcomings in certain areas that are outside the lines, then that’s our responsibility to do everything we can to take care of those and address them so that our coaches can focus on coaching, recruiting and watching the student-athletes graduate.

Q: Richt mentioned you had helped relieve him of some administrative duties. . . .

A: Every person has strengths and weaknesses, and I thought one of Mark’s weaknesses was that he was trying to do so much himself. He was the point person on so many issues, whether they be academics, discipline, things of that nature, to where it was so time-consuming . . . [and] almost impossible to focus really on the X’s and O’s of the game in every phase of the game. So as you analyze things, you look, you listen, sometimes you wonder, ‘Why is our head coach the point person there?’ …

Q: Was there a tipping point during the season when you decided in your mind you were not going to make a coaching change?

A: Yeah, I think the Monday after the Colorado game was probably the most telling day. I think that’s when things really started to jell, so to speak, as far as [Richt and McGarity] getting to know each other better to where we did not feel maybe afraid to just be brutally honest with each other. . . . Basically from that point forward, everybody was really upset and we wanted to change things and Mark was very proactive there. And as we continued to improve, I think the stats will show that leading up to the UCF game we were scoring close to 40 points a game for seven games in a row. Things were on the upswing. I mean, we had a tough, tough loss to Florida, and we had a difficult loss to Auburn. There is no question the effort was there. I know people don’t like to hear about ‘we were close,’ but we were not out of those games until the end of the game. And we just basically couldn’t close those close games. . . . And then we go against a UCF team that I think unfortunately people don’t give enough credit. Coach [George] O’Leary has done a phenomenal job down there. . . They played a great game, maybe their best game of the year, and we did not. And at the end of the day you’re going to lose games like that. But I think the tipping point was maybe how we responded after being 1-4.

Q: What is your reading on the pulse of Bulldog Nation? And what has been your response to people you’ve heard from this week, particularly those calling for change right now?

A: It’s interesting. I don’t want to say it’s been 50-50, but it’s probably been pretty close to that as far as people supportive.  You’ve got a certain faction of fans out there that aren’t just disappointed; if they don’t have change, they’re going to drop out of the program. I understand the frustration. I think everyone here is frustrated. But everybody in this building and anybody who is on our staff, they’re working hard to turn this thing around. And I know we can do it. . . . I wish I could turn a light switch on and change it overnight, but people are going to have to make decisions on, ‘Do they want to hang in there with us, or do they choose to do otherwise?’ The way I look at it is that people who support our program, it’s really supporting our [whole] program. I know they’re frustrated with football right now, but what is so important is that their contributions go into funding every sport that we sponsor. So in essence if we have some that are pulling out of the program … they’re basically pulling out of making a contribution that helps us in every facet of our operation. But I do understand the frustration, and the only thing we can do is to say we are working as hard as we can to turn this ship around. And after we get it going, then I think you’ll see a lot different reaction.

Q: How would you characterize your discussions with Richt in the past few days? Have you learned anything about him you didn’t know beforehand?

A: Even though you know the right things are happening, even though you know he is working extremely hard to turn this thing around, I think everybody wants to hear, ‘Hey, I am passionate about this work; I am doing everything I can to turn this thing around.’ Bottom line is, I think the conversations we have had have been very reassuring that he has the ability [to] maybe go back to the way he might have been doing some things earlier in his career. He admitted he is really looking forward to studying the game. When you’re so concerned and so ingrained in all these other things that are outside the system, something has to lag behind; something basically has to be moved to the corner of the desk. I think what we’re seeing now is that we’re kind of clearing the deck so Mark can get back to doing the thing he really enjoys doing, and that’s doing what he talked about [Wednesday] as far as studying the game and getting back into all phases of the game. I think that’s the healthy part about it. I know he’s passionate about it. We’ve just got to get to where we are expressing that more frequently.

388 comments Add your comment

rocketfuel

January 6th, 2011
4:36 pm

Sorry Greg,it’s not going to change with CMR at the helm.Should have cleaned house and started over.I hope Greg had a conversation with Garner,seems he has gotten fat and happy and recruiting ain’t what it used to be.,I hope I am proven wrong in 2011 and I have to eat my words.

kevin

January 6th, 2011
4:37 pm

Mcgarity seems to have his head on straight. I hope these “changes” can lead to more wins…..i am just not optimistic considering if these “changes” were so important why didn’t Richt make these changes on his own accord…..

sandman053

January 6th, 2011
4:39 pm

I think if that passion showed through a little bit the Dawg Nation would be much more settled.

FIRST

January 6th, 2011
4:39 pm

Let’s hope this works!! Maybe Mark backing off trying to be everything instead of coaching on the field will get us winning again!!

Buckeye

January 6th, 2011
4:41 pm

Improvement?

7 and 6? That’s improvement.

Sounds like the boss is setting low expectations.

sandman053

January 6th, 2011
4:41 pm

interesting note I posted before and read somewhere, it seems the decline in wins coincided with the hiring of Damon Evans…Maybe with a supportive pro-football guy in McGarity (like Dooley) CMR can get back to Atlanta in December again and hopefully soon!

patrick

January 6th, 2011
4:44 pm

Hey dummies.
.
UGA lost all their games by an ave of less than 7 points
.
They used a freshman QB…….a new D scheme without the proper players. Its a year where 4 turnovers less and we are at 9 or ten wins. Relax….it was a snake bit team this year

blazerdawg

January 6th, 2011
4:47 pm

100% behing AD GM. Go Dawgs!!!

sandman053

January 6th, 2011
4:48 pm

I think that Seay kid is gonna be a good target for Murray next year. A little coaching and he should be fine.

Joseph

January 6th, 2011
4:49 pm

Blah, blah, blah. That’s what I hear every time McGarity talks about his lame duck coach, that McGarity doesn’t feel confident enough in to add a 4th year. Bunch of words, backed up with no action. Where did we get this guy? What a complete wash when it comes to leadership. If he’s leading by fear, game over, Richt’s gone, Richt doesn’t respond to fear (how did you like the 1-4 start McGarity before you came out and backed your coach for 2010?). Leading by fear is old school.

Lead by example. Don’t ask Richt, players or recruits to commit to Georgia, when you won’t commit to a 4th year.

I’d hoped to hear some good news from The hot air guy. Like, ‘we want Our coaching staff, current players, and future recruits to know, that we’re so committed to Mark Richt, and so sure he’s our leader, we have JUST added a 4th year to his contract.’

Anything short of that is bogus hot air.

commit or get rid of Richt. can’t have it both ways. he’s either your guy, or he’s not. too many mixed messages.

Ted Striker

January 6th, 2011
4:52 pm

Nice column.

Cooler heads typically prevail. Glad to see McGarity is one of those guys.

Smith

January 6th, 2011
4:52 pm

Richt will head to another team after the recuriting seaosn ends. He’s had it with McGarity’s Mr. Tough Guy act. Gonna lose a great, great coach.

Bud

January 6th, 2011
4:52 pm

Richt will leave Feb 14, 2010.

Bud

January 6th, 2011
4:53 pm

2011, sorry.

You're Right

January 6th, 2011
4:53 pm

NOTHING HAS CHANGED OR WILL CHANGE!!!

The UGA athletic program is doomed with this type of leadership.

True Dawg

January 6th, 2011
4:53 pm

Lets see what Mcgarity is made of-maybe he knows what he is talking about-he does know FL you know

allan in texas

January 6th, 2011
4:54 pm

Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!

Delbert D.

January 6th, 2011
4:55 pm

Okay, it’s clear. The fans are the problem. Got to change the fans; 50% of them are unreliable.

sandman053

January 6th, 2011
4:55 pm

Speaking of other sports, the UGA Ice Dawgs will play after the Thrashers in two weeks. Playing USCe. Should be fun. At least it will take my mind off this stuff for a while.

GTBob

January 6th, 2011
4:56 pm

I’m sure he does want improvement. Doesn’t every AD in the country want improvement? I’m sure even TCU wants improvement next year.

sandman053

January 6th, 2011
4:56 pm

TCU may get it nect year being in a BCS conference….best chance Big East has at a BCS bowl

Swampthing

January 6th, 2011
4:57 pm

It sounds to me like Damon Evans dumped all his work on Coach Richt and lived it up in Atlanta. As a Gator I think McGarrity will get you moving in the right direction unfortunately. But, if it keeps Mark Richt there and we avoid having Dan Mullen or Kirby Smart come in, I’m happy. I KNOW we can beat Richt. Go Gators!!

sandman053

January 6th, 2011
4:57 pm

excuse me….should be next year.

Joey

January 6th, 2011
4:57 pm

In the hunt?

I guess this season was a success. We were “in the hunt” for the East when we played UF, even though we were 4-4.

Hell, Richt’s right on the mark.

Woo Hoo!

Just The Facts

January 6th, 2011
4:57 pm

Patrick

Amen.

schmeckdawg

January 6th, 2011
4:59 pm

What a load of crap!!!!!!!

Dale

January 6th, 2011
4:59 pm

It was a tough loss to Florida. But at least the band did a great job.

Matthews Dawg

January 6th, 2011
5:00 pm

Patrick and Joseph….great points! I emailed GM today and he actually emailed me back. He said the same thing to me on email that he said above, but much shorter. I agree, if he wants to prove to us all that he believes CMR can turn it around add an extension to his contract. That would show the recruits he is here and they have no fear of coming here. Go Dawgs

layinlow

January 6th, 2011
5:00 pm

My intuition is telling me that McGarity is a really sharp guy who is being very diplomatic during this whole process. He has only been on the job for about four months but it seems he has looked very deep into the football program. He has asked richt a lot of questions and has offered him whatever he thinks he needs to turn things around. Transalation- no more excuses next season. McGarity has basically set things up to where Richt will not have anything to point a finger at if he fails next year. I will admit I wanted McGarity to fire Richt this year but now I am coming around to the process that he feels he needs to go thru first.

I still believe that with the current staff that Richt will not live up to expectations and will be gone next season. But he gets one last chance and McGarity has basically left it up to him to decide what he needs. So we will see what happens.

Joey

January 6th, 2011
5:02 pm

“We were close.”

I’ll try that line when I’m debating my UF budies about why Richt is still head coach . . .

CEPH

January 6th, 2011
5:02 pm

I can tell you where this program is heading is one simple example, when we have to offer a scholarship to a two star player who is rated 181 at his position in the country this show just how desperate we are. Ala, Aub, Fla etc, etc, etc, just come into our state and cherry-pick the players
we want and need and we have to wind up with (Seay 2 star) its mind boggling. Even with Murray at QB we can’t get any receiver to commit, pitifuuuuuuullll. These recruits aren’t interested in their whole being they are interested in who can prepare them for the next level and it ain’t Mark the Baptist Richt!!!!!!!

kerryb

January 6th, 2011
5:02 pm

Never fails. You post an article that has some positive things in it and the first idiot that posts is a nay sayer. the problem with UGA right now is all the fair weather fans. Get over it. UGA is not going to let Mark Richt go mainly because of his buy out, and paying a new coach would probably cost the university about 15 million. Richt is not going anywhere so give him a chance to focus on the game and turn it around. I’m excited to hear that we may have the Mark Richt of the 2001-2002 seasons back.

Benny

January 6th, 2011
5:05 pm

Smith, where does He excel at coaching? Adjustments during game–nope. Minimize costly penalties–nope. Special teams–nope. Fundamentally sound tackling–nope. Physical play–nope. Coaching players up–nope.

tuck fech

January 6th, 2011
5:06 pm

I’m not spending another dime on UGA football.

St. Clarkston

January 6th, 2011
5:06 pm

If I had a 2.5 million dollar job, I wouldn’t be passionate, I’d be orgasmic. What took him so long?

MCDAVIDASTRO

January 6th, 2011
5:07 pm

This is all pure bull and to let Richt guide th e program another year will double what it will take to right the ship. It’s not going to get better next year, Richt does not have a clue. Fire Richt now, save ehat’s left of the program while ther is something left.

Vain Jangling

January 6th, 2011
5:08 pm

What I got out of all that was that CMR had somehow moved “coaching” onto the corner of his desk, so to speak. But, thank goodness, he just noticed that predicament, and has now brought it back out front and center and dusted it off. And he’s studying it. Yeah, you’re right, it’s somehow like the captain of the Titanic finally finding his lost compass, after someone has just yelled, “Iceberg, dead ahead!”

sandman053

January 6th, 2011
5:09 pm

lol @ St. Clarkston….orgasmic..that’s funny!!

AltamahaDawg

January 6th, 2011
5:09 pm

One of those things you look at ask the question should be: why is our head football coach having to sit around and figure out who has a damn valid drivers licence. I’m starting to wonder how big of a coincidence it really was that Evans ended up on the front page of the newspaper one night.

Worm

January 6th, 2011
5:10 pm

Greg, You have incoming E-Mail..Alot of us were silent, but your 50-50 comment will open the floodgates..Folks, express your unhappiness!

Einsteindawg

January 6th, 2011
5:11 pm

Greg McPelosi is sounding more like a politician than an AD. Although I like Richt as a person, he has been tainted by his huge contract, and will/can never return to his glory days. Greg, if you don’t learn from history, you’re destined to repeat it. Just my opinion.

rocketfuel

January 6th, 2011
5:12 pm

Maybe Mark Richt could head over to the BB office and talk to Mark Fox and get a few pointers.I am so over this non-coaching staff.CMR said he does not want to blow things up,don’t worry princess we will get blown up enough next year.

Benny

January 6th, 2011
5:12 pm

The idea of discipline(on-field) can be made simple, as far as accountability. During practice, coaches can remind players that they are a team, not units or individuals. One player has a false start during drills, THE ENTIRE TEAM runs extra sprints/hills. This will enforce team concept, in that “you screw up, you make it bad for all of us.” Once they get sick of extra work, leaders will emerge to bring these “me” players in line.

AltamahaDawg

January 6th, 2011
5:13 pm

I knew when Mcgarity was quoted as saying that “there will always be those folks whose love for Georgia is no deeper than to hurt the other programs financially because their feeling got hurt over the football game” it wouldn’t take long for the hands to start raising in here.

sandman053

January 6th, 2011
5:14 pm

Benny, I agree with you on discipline. It has been lacking but I think that is going to change and starting in March! Go Dawgs!

JD

January 6th, 2011
5:16 pm

Patrick is right on, and cooler heads do prevail. But UGA AD and the rest of the staff associated with football would do themselves a big favor by opening up a bit more, at least from now to June. My take from McG’s comments is that Mark will be getting more involved with the game strategy and preparation. My hope is that he takes over the OC duties on the field, even if MB keeps the title. Defense wins games though, and Grantham’s ramp up is over.

Wins. Everything else will fall into place with these.

Mr. Rolling Cooler Cooler Roller

January 6th, 2011
5:17 pm

Just Win Baby or don’t let the door hit you in the A$$ when you can’t!!!

Einsteindawg

January 6th, 2011
5:21 pm

If Mark Richt is “getting more involved with the game strategy and preparation”, for what have we been paying our position coaches? And, since Richt is the CEO of the team, what has he been doing? More importantly, why has it taken this long to identify the problem?

Gatormeat

January 6th, 2011
5:23 pm

Give me a break, all your “dream team” recruits are bailing. I hear even Crowell is coming here to Gainsville, apparently his parents are concerned about the rampant arrests and panty incidents and all the other goofy things going on up there. At Florida he will learn character, honor, and also be a part of a championship caliber program, something georgia never will be. To us, you are Vanderbilt. You are Kentucky. Accept it

sandman053

January 6th, 2011
5:25 pm

Character? at Florida? Time to die bi*&^%! Well hopefully the NCAA won’t find out about Rainey’s unlimited text plan