Florida influence apparent in management style of UGA’s Greg McGarity

ATHENS – There are some nervous coaches around Georgia’s athletic department these days. That tends to happen when the coach of perennial top 10 program abruptly resigns the week after finishing 11th.

Georgia gymnastics coach Jay Clark offered his resignation shortly after meeting with UGA athletic director Greg McGarity on May 4 and it served as an overture to his staff. Clark had two years remaining on a five-year contract he signed when he succeeded ultra-successful head coach Suzanne Yoculan in 2009.

The Gym Dogs weren’t awful under Clark, not by a long stretch. But they fell well short of the standards set by Yoculan’s teams, which won 10 national championships, including their last five in a row.

“We’re expected to win championships and we wanted to,” Clark said. “We just didn’t get it done.”

It didn’t matter that Clark was part of that run as an assistant coach for Yoculan or that of two of his gymnasts were crowned individual national champions. Three consecutive third-place finishes in the SEC and three whiffs on making the “Super Six” round of the NCAA Championships were too much to overcome, in McGarity’s eyes.

McGarity’s move stunned many in the Bulldog Nation and more than a few in coaching. But it came as little surprise to people who observed McGarity prior to his tenure at Georgia.

Before his UGA appointment, McGarity served as athletic director Jeremy Foley’s right-hand man at Florida for 18 years.

“All I know is when Greg and I worked together, one thing that he and I talked about — and I’ve got to think it’s part of his management philosophy — is you don’t necessarily judge a program on where it is today,” Foley said. “I think you judge it on where it’s going to be or if it’s as good as it can be. Sometimes you evaluate programs and they may be OK.

“But there are certain places in the country — and Florida’s one and I think Georgia is one — where being OK isn’t satisfactory to people in leadership roles.”

McGarity, a UGA graduate and longtime Vince Dooley aide, left Georgia to become Foley’s senior executive in 1992. UGA President Michael Adams hired McGarity in August of 2010 following Damon Evans’ dismissal.

During McGarity’s time in Gainesville, Foley dismissed at least 15 Florida head coaches. Among them were three baseball coaches — including Pat McMahon just two years after playing for the national championship — and a football coach in the middle of his third season.

“Sometimes Jeremy has fired people and I’ve just been stunned,” said Pat Dooley, longtime executive sports editor and columnist for The Gainesville Sun. “[Baseball coach] Andy Lopez was a stunner. Pat McMahon was a stunner. [Football coach] Ron Zook only got 2 1/2 years. But that’s what his philosophy is. If you know it’s going the wrong way, don’t wait until it gets there. And I think Greg learned from that.”

Though McGarity’s primary responsibility with the Gators was as their chief business executive, he also was Foley’s closest confidante and a resident sounding board. Asked how often he consulted McGarity on personnel moves, Foley stated flatly, “I can’t think of one he wasn’t involved in.”

“There are so many things that go into the decisions that you make,” McGarity said. “That’s my job, to have a knowledge of what’s going on in every sport, along with a lot of help from a lot of other people I know.”

McGarity’s said his expectations should not come as a surprise to Georgia’s coaches. He spells it out for them on a sheet of paper he keeps in the bottom left drawer of his desk at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

Aptly titled “What I Expect from Coaches,” McGarity gives a copy to every University of Georgia head coach upon their first meeting. He distributed a copy to all 15 of the Bulldogs’ coaches in the fall of 2010 and he gave one to volleyball coach Lizzy Stemke, his only new hire to date, this past year.

McGarity’s list includes 10 items, most of which are directives about attitude, work ethic and rules compliance. But coaches would be well advised to pay attention to No. 8.

“Develop a program that is competitive in the SEC and nationally, understanding that the definition of ‘competitive’ is different from sport to sport.”

It’s that second clause that tripped up Clark. Nobody could argue that the Gym Dogs were extremely competitive if not dominant. They were ranked among the top five programs in the nation up until the team had had to count three falls at the national championship meet. But relative to previous achievements, Georgia was regressing.

This makes McGarity’s next moves difficult to predict. There are a few coaches watching with keen interest.

  • Baseball coach David Perno, the Bulldogs’ skipper since 2002, is down to the final two years of his contract, which expires June 30, 2014. With a week left in the regular season, Perno’s team is 29-22 overall and 13-13 in the SEC and will be sweating out an NCAA tournament bid. Georgia has already qualified for the SEC tournament, has won two SEC championships under Perno and has been to three College World Series when it had been to only three in previous history.
  • Georgia women’s golf coach Kelley Hester is in the fifth and final year of her contract. The Lady Bulldogs were ranked ninth and seeded third before a disappointing performance in the NCAA Central Regional in Ohio in which they failed to advance for the second straight year. UGA has won one national championship in golf (2001) and 11 SEC titles, but finished fifth this year and no better than third under Hester.
  • Track and field coach Wayne Norton is in the final year of his contract as well. Georgia’s teams combined for 217 points — the most in school history — as the men finished third and the women took fourth at the SEC championships this past Sunday.

Georgia football coach Mark Richt survived McGarity’s scrutiny last season when he earned a new five-year contract following 10 wins and an SEC East championship. Indications are men’s basketball coach Mark Fox and women’s basketball coach Andy Landers remain are in good standing, too, at least for now.

Interviewed at the end of this past week, McGarity declined to discuss any coaches specifically. Speaking generally, he McGarity said he meets with every coach regularly throughout the season and conducts one-on-one reviews at the end. He said he doesn’t judge team performances in a vacuum. Injuries, personal hardships among players or coaches and all extenuating circumstances are considered, he said.

For instance, the fact that Perno lost two players to traumatic, permanent injuries in back-to-back seasons, lost an 18-save closer to injury before the first game and is dealing with a serious, ongoing health issue within his family all will be taken into account.

“People have to trust the leadership here and have confidence that we know what’s going on in all our sports,” McGarity said. “There are a lot of things that go on that people just have no idea about and they’ll never know anything about because they are basically dealt with internally.”

Foley, for one, thinks the Bulldogs are fortunate to have McGarity calling those shots.

“Georgia hit a home run with Greg,” Foley said. “I’m very happy that he’s there. He has the abilities to do that job and he’s been ready to do that job for a long, long time, in my opinion. The blessing is it didn’t happen for a while. I got to keep him for 18 years.”

149 comments Add your comment

CaliDawg

May 15th, 2012
2:16 am

Andy Landers needs to be at the top of McGarity’s list. So much talent has passed through with nothing to show for it. Mark Fox…the “We’re a young team” excuse is really tired…isn’t every team young?

7576DAWG

May 15th, 2012
3:16 am

I think that McGarity will make Mark Richt do his job by fairly evaluating his coaches. It is not McGarity’s job to evaluate the position coaches, it is Mark Richt job to do that and if Georgia has the same failures against ranked teams that we had last year then Richt will be forced to get rid of some of his coaches . I think Friend is on the hot seat because he seems to have a lot of problems recruiting in Georgia ,so it will be important what linemen commit to Georgia this year. Mike Bobo is also on the hot seat to finally show that he deserved the promotion to Coordinator.

te29wr

May 15th, 2012
6:53 am

Can we do the same for Sports Writers

Email Profiling Is Wrong

May 15th, 2012
7:42 am

By all accounts, McGarity’s a capable guy.

And while he’s set ambitious expectations, he’s clearly not above cooking up a soft football schedule as a hedge to help meet what he demands of that program.

I hope UGA fans enjoy those home games against Georgia Southern, Florida Atlantic and Buffalo this season.

Say what you will about Damon Evans, at least he didn’t hide from strong out of conference opponents.

Dawgs10

May 15th, 2012
7:43 am

Enter your comments here

Bob

May 15th, 2012
7:44 am

Amen about Landers. He must have pictures on someone. What coach has done less over the last ten years than ol’ Andy???

Destin Dawg

May 15th, 2012
7:45 am

Mcgarity should get the Ga./Fla. game changed to Home/Home or Atl./Jax… not a home game for the Gators EVERY year !!! and encourage Richt to make Bo Bo QB. coach and recruiting coordinator.. get a big time OC. maybe Ron Zook or Houston Nutt ??? Go dawgs !!

Dawgs10

May 15th, 2012
7:46 am

Maybe UGA needs a President that will hold McGarity to those same standards. If any team falls below the “win” standard the AD is gone. Sounds fair.

Destin Dawg

May 15th, 2012
7:49 am

Damon.. who would you get to replace Richt ????? I think this is our year.. thanks mainly to Todd Grantham’s JunkYard Dawgs !!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

May 15th, 2012
7:54 am

As was mentioned in the recruiting blog Derrick Lott has transferred to UTC. Another player leaving over playing time issues. Paperwork is official per the Chattanooga Times so no change of heart for this young man.

Spokesman for the SEC East

May 15th, 2012
7:55 am

FIRE MCGARRITY! Keep all of your mediocre coaches!

Father A. Long

May 15th, 2012
7:55 am

If a coach states that he does not care if we beat GT, he should be fired on the spot!

Spokesman for the SEC East

May 15th, 2012
7:58 am

Destin Dawg, let’s see: Both teams have equal number of fans. Both teams travel about 60 minutes to Jax; UF by bus UGA by plane. Both teams spend friday night in Jax. UGA had no problem before Spurrier, you guys are whining complaining, the Refs cheated us, ESPN hates us, Spurrier hates us, same as Vandy without the education babies.

dtanner

May 15th, 2012
8:01 am

dumbo ears with bad hair dye that’s greg mcgarity,this sorry schedule he has cococted gives me absolutely no buzz for the upcoming season,as a long time season ticket holder finding it harder and harder to plop down my big bucks to watch them whip the mighty coastal carolina’s of the world 56-3

Dawgs10

May 15th, 2012
8:09 am

It makes no since to beef up an out of conference schedule or play the big teams in the west because Florida an tenersee stink right now. flordia dint have tougher west games and they sure didn’t beef up there out of conference games when the dawgs were down.

DawginLex

May 15th, 2012
8:25 am

I have been saying all along, Richt is not off the hot seat because with this guy, he is constantly being evaluated.

The contract was primarily to stop the negative talk surrounding recruiting.

The 2013 class will be loaded thanks to what McGarity has done with Richt.

But make no mistake, if 2012 is not up to standard for McGarity, someone else could be coaching the 2013 class.

Dawg Fan

May 15th, 2012
8:35 am

What Would Damon Do?, You are an idiot and obviously do not know what you are talking about. To say “Richt is in coaching purely for the millions of dollars that have been wasted on him, and the millions more he will add until someone in Athens has the integrity and intestinal fortitude to run him out of town”, is an ignorant statement and shows no knowledge of the man. Richt is a kind-hearted, caring, Christian man, who truly cares about his players. His number one concern is to make good men out of his players. As for the millions of dollars, Richt donates a large portion of his salary to charities. Read this article about why he sold his Lake Hartwell home.
http://blogs.ajc.com/uga-sports-blog/2011/05/25/mark-richt-says-decision-to-sell-lake-hartwell-property-was-christian-motivated/

DawgSinceBirth

May 15th, 2012
8:38 am

Dawginit: AMEN!!!! Couldn’t have put that more PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!

JB

May 15th, 2012
8:42 am

In the last 6-7 years, an SEC school ( s).. ( fla2,lsu 2, Bama 2 and Auburn 1 have all won National Championships. Looks like LSU will win the 2012 title………. How much longer will ” we’re working harder to get better” and playing in a second tier bowl be the best we can do with the resources we have? It might not be Richts neck on the line first with a new President coming in, it might be McGarity’s. The Board of Regents and Adams have protected this football program long enough.

JB

May 15th, 2012
8:53 am

Dawgs out to have a 1.5 mil per year, big name, proven OC on staff running the offense. We have Bobo for one reason. It’s still Mark’s 100% control of HIS system with a guy who will NOT challenge Mark to try something different other than than worn out FSU play book and scripted offense philosophy.Bobo is just happy to not be coaching high school ball at 60K per year….not that’s there’s anything wrong with that.

JB

May 15th, 2012
8:54 am

s/b ought to have………..geez

JB

May 15th, 2012
9:01 am

In the last 39 games against ” RANKED” football teams, Richt has won 9. THAT’S WHAT McGARITY NEEDS TO EVALUATE. AND WITH NO RUNNING GAME THE LAST 2-3 YEARS, RICHT HIRES ” A FRIEND OF THE PROGRAM”, NO PUN INTENDED, FROM NOWHERE. AND COULD OF LURED THE BEST IN THE COUNTRY HERE WITH SOME BUCKS !!!

Destin Dawg

May 15th, 2012
9:21 am

Troll.. Stacy Searles goes to Texas… they are .500 % since .. no loss there !!

crackbaby

May 15th, 2012
9:23 am

@uga_alum_93 – Since when is baseball a “major” college sport?

Dude – at UGA only football produces significant revenue (unless men’s hoops still does). The Gym Dawgs have won more national championships than you can count on one hand since your baseball NC. They used to sell out their big competitions, not sure if that is still the case.

Too bad y’all are overly focused on football (just look at the blog comments). So many great student athletes in other sports in Athens going virtually un-noticed. It’s a shame.

Destin Dawg

May 15th, 2012
9:24 am

So why not Atl/Jax for Floriduh game ??? everybody likes to come to Atlanta

crackbaby

May 15th, 2012
9:26 am

btw – nice post above, DawgEd. On topic and cogent.

UGA Insider

May 15th, 2012
9:30 am

Now that Adams is gone look for McGarity to get very aggressive. It was Adams who made the final call on whether to fire Richt after the USCe loss. McGarity was ready and had his man in place(Peterson). We will know after this season if that move was a mistake or not by Adams.

Joey

May 15th, 2012
9:36 am

Time will tell if McGarity is as successful as his former boss. But I guarantee you Foley wouldn’t have given Mark Richt a new contract after a 10-4 season, in which he won no games as an underdog, and lost his second bowl game in a row, as the favorite. Not with two years on his current deal left.

Oh wait. McGarity didn’t wait until the season was over, as he said he would all year long. He offered the new deal BEFORE the embarrassing loss to MSU.

McGarity may turn out to be UGA’s best AD ever. But right now, he’s no Jeremy Foley.

Gulf Shores Dawg

May 15th, 2012
9:43 am

McGarity, just keep the course, mediocrity is no longer accepted.

Jim

May 15th, 2012
9:43 am

I disagree about Landers—it is time for a change.

nolabigdawg

May 15th, 2012
9:48 am

Just reading some of these entries on this blog really does reaffirm my belief that the AJC is truly the land of misfit toys!!

Some of you people really do need help. You know who you are :o )

GO DAWGS

Joey

May 15th, 2012
9:55 am

I agree, Jim. Landers couldn’t win a title with legend Teresa Edwards in Athens for 4 years.

Kinda like a football coach who couldn’t even win the SEC East with 8 NFLers on the team, including 4 in skill positions . . .

Wonder how many BCS Titles that Saban, Myer, Spurrier, etc could have won with that bunch?

Gjjj

May 15th, 2012
9:57 am

Have 100% faith in McGarity…..

Gjjj

May 15th, 2012
9:58 am

Landers needs too retire…..

DawginLex

May 15th, 2012
10:02 am

Landers’ kryptonite, Pat Summitt just retired.

He now only has UK and SC to worry about.

If he is going to get a national title, the next 2 years are the time while UT is rebuilding

Dawg Fud

May 15th, 2012
10:14 am

Perno next on the chopping block

USA today editor

May 15th, 2012
10:16 am

To
Firecmr,edu

Our numbers are accurate it sounds like u are a suffering Georgia fan

JB

May 15th, 2012
10:23 am

Firing Richt would be real tricky and dangerous for any AD at UGA. He’s very well liked. He won 10 games last year, and gonna win 10 or more this year. He’s about as respected in the coaching ranks and circles as anyone. Not one day on probation under him. He’s got class………………..HE just can’t win a National title, and I think that’s going to be our plight. He ain’t going nowhere.

Big Wally Butts

May 15th, 2012
10:36 am

Not one person on this blog knows what either McGarity or any of the UGA head coaches know about what happens internally with UGA athletics. I have never heard a bigger bunch of obilivions pontificate on something that they are totally clueless about. I guess the old saying about opinions and bellybuttons is at work.

Taylor Wooten

May 15th, 2012
10:39 am

UGA Baseball ….should be next.

JB

May 15th, 2012
10:41 am

Big Wally, you are correct, but one thing they do keep an eye on is revenue. Lot’s of it. And ticket sales and the Hartman fund is the life blood of that Athletic department. Let that slip and the ball starts rolling, just say’n.

DIT

May 15th, 2012
10:45 am

Love all of the couch, arm-chaired coaches on here. The one making the most sense is TampaGator. My guess the majority of you on here don’t have high leveled positions so it’s easy to sit back with your bag of potatoe chips and TV remote and claim you’d be a better AD. Good grief many of you on here make UGA look so bad!

DIT

May 15th, 2012
10:45 am

AND that’s coming from a UGA GRAD!

Joey

May 15th, 2012
10:46 am

Big Wally, it’s a UGA Sports blog, with a, “Add you comment” at the bottom of the page. It doesn’t ask for credentials, or sources.

Would you prefer posters write opinions on quantum physics?

JB

May 15th, 2012
10:58 am

Joey, they don’t get it. They need to go get 3 quarters and buy a paper if they want a PAID opinion.

And in the words of the late great Lewis Grizzard. Hell, the paper cost a quarter. If you want the truth and good writing, it would be 3.95.

DawginLex

May 15th, 2012
11:18 am

Mizzou QB got busted for leaving scene of accident. He was # 1 QB on depth chart in Spring WITHOUT James Franklin.

I bet Franklin’s rehab just got sped up 300%

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2012/may/15/missouri-qb-arrested-leaving-scene-accident/

Dr. Phil

May 15th, 2012
11:46 am

McGarity is nothing but a mouthpiece for the puppetmaster, Adams. Adams runs UGA like Al Capone ran Chicago. The Chancellor of the BOR is another Adams minion. Although Adams is allegedly retiring, he will still be running the university.

ugaworker

May 15th, 2012
12:11 pm

Baseball has been a ‘choke and puke’ team since Perno came and no one has done a thing. He will be there forever and we will never win the big game. No one has the guts to do anything about Perno or Richt. Richt is not a head coach – never will be. Doesn’t have what it takes like a Saban. He will always be a great person.

ugaworker

May 15th, 2012
12:13 pm

And McGarity didn’t pull the string on Clark, Youcalan’s man did. When HE speaks, everyone listens, bows and says “Yes, Sir!”.

Dawg258

May 15th, 2012
1:01 pm

Funny how foley can be ” arguably, the best AD in the country ” when he hasn’t done anything to address the massive drug abuse problem in Gainesville. Then again I guess that’s up to all the coaches he keeps employeed.
What will he do after another 7-5 record this season, that’s the question?