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

uga_alum_93

May 14th, 2012
5:41 pm

We’ll see if he is Foley-esque in the coming years. There is no reason with the resources we have in this state and in Athens that UGA should not be celebrating National Championships regularly in the major sports. However, you have to go back to 1990 in baseball to experience one.

Mountain Dawg

May 14th, 2012
5:44 pm

Just win, Baby!

Mr. Bitter

May 14th, 2012
5:51 pm

Who said college coaching was a cushy government job?

Mr. Bitter

May 14th, 2012
5:52 pm

Maybe it’s a cushy job at GT

Rebounding Dawg

May 14th, 2012
5:53 pm

Every winning program has a sense of urgency about it. I’m not sure some of Georgia’s team’s yet have the urgency needed for consistant greatness.

DawgInaTruck

May 14th, 2012
5:55 pm

Sometimes it may be a little uncomfortable for coaches and fans alike but I’m glad this guy is in charge. Expectations need to be high.

AltamahaDawg

May 14th, 2012
5:58 pm

I think that is a very wise mantra. What must be done eventually needs to be done now. I believe that.That applies to any number of things.

Beeeeg Boy

May 14th, 2012
6:13 pm

Perno has the Baseball Program right where it needs to be!!

Bryan G.

May 14th, 2012
6:24 pm

He obviously inherited the Florida model for scheduling home football games. Which I suppose is good for our record but kind of sucks for us fans.

Bulldawgx2

May 14th, 2012
6:24 pm

McGarity is a complete idiot. Fire him today, we made a big mistake. He is completely unqualified for his position and especially his salary. Mark Lewis was the real choice, but Adams didn’t have the guts. McGarity was ticket manager and has a degress in journalism. In the real world you need real qualifications for that type of position.

Who Me?

May 14th, 2012
6:31 pm

Looks like UGA will have a new Ladies Golf Coach next year then….

Seriously, as much of an investment in these programs as is being made, there really is no excuse for continued failure. I get the same review every year I work and have no reasonable expectation that I will remain employed if I don’t perform. or for that matter, even if I do….Anyone that works for someone else should understand that every day is their last day at that job.

lanier

May 14th, 2012
6:32 pm

performance = longivity excellent

TampaGator

May 14th, 2012
6:35 pm

Bulldawgx2……

Can you read? McGariety worked and learned under, arguably, the best AD in the country in Jeremy Foley. He also worked under Dooley as well. But, I guess, if you have a DEGRESS in journalism, you at least know how to spell DEGREE. He has at least that going for him, don’t you think?

TJ

May 14th, 2012
6:36 pm

We’re long overdue to put together a truly great season in football. Yeah, we had a run last year, but when you look at starting out 0-2 and ending on an impotent looking 0-2 skid, what did we really do but beat some pretty bad teams along the way. We whiffed in statement games and had to hang on for dear life against the worst UF team in many years.
If he’s willing to pull the trigger on a contract extension, he better be willing to bite the bullet if we regress this year.

TampaGator

May 14th, 2012
6:38 pm

@Bryan G…..

I think that scheduling model is a model for most SEC teams…..at least teams that understand the challenge of playing 8 SEC games every year.

legendofthegame

May 14th, 2012
6:38 pm

McGarity comes across as incompetent. Firing a top 5 gym coach?

So far, every decision he has made for the football team has, in hindsight, been odd:
–working out, from trailers in 10′ off season (team lost 7 game sin 4th quarter)
–not getting AJ Green’s 4 game suspension reduced while other programs were successful
–drastically underpaying the str/cond staff, and losing 80% of them for lateral moves in 2012
–keeping the Ga/Fla game in Florida–got outnegotiated by Foley (this with a 3-17 record in Fla)
–replaced Lville game *sure win) with Boise game( resulting in a loss)
–spending weeks scheduling games too far out to be relevant
–mismanaging Richt, resulting in Richt’s worst record in 25 seasons (6-7 season)
–Richt’s only losing season in 25 years was under McGarity’s reign
–Has yet to get his No. 1 sports (football) a single win against a top 25 team (in 2 seasons)

This guy looks like he’s in over his head, were I the new Prez, I’d be looking closely at how to football team does in 2012 against top competition.

Resorting to scheduling in 2012 a bunch of unranked teams (11 out of 12) to try and have a good year.

Sad.

TampaGator

May 14th, 2012
6:40 pm

@TJ……

I don’t think you have to worry about Georgia regressing this year. They have an excellent shot at returning to the Outback Bowl and beating a #3 Big Ten team…….which would be an improvement over last year.

See what I did there?

Beast from the East

May 14th, 2012
6:48 pm

legend,
Richt has not been a HC for 25 years. Besides that, how did McGarity “mismanage” him into a 6-7 season?

TampaGator

May 14th, 2012
7:02 pm

@legendofthegame…..

How in the hell is any school’s AD responsible for the football team’s record, other than him or her hiring a bad coach. McCarity did not hire Richt….and Richt is not a bad coach. He isn’t a great one either. Eventually, that might get him fired by McGarity. But I doubt it.

charles

May 14th, 2012
7:03 pm

How could Landers possibly be “in good shape?”We used to get the best players in the nation and now we don’t even get the best players in metro Atlanta.

legendofthegame

May 14th, 2012
7:08 pm

If a top rung coach like Mark Richt, who started coaching in 1985, had never had a losing season, and all of the sudden, for the first time in nearly 3 decades, he has a losing season, it’s not the Coach, it’s management style. McGarity couldn’t figure out how to get the best out of Mark Richt. His relationship was too cold and too harsh. McGarity adapted a little in 2011, but is still using an ineffective management style with Mark Richt. mcGarity has yet to see his No. program (football) beat a top 25 team, just no significant accomplishments in 2 years. Some were blown away with the win over Florida, well, everybody in October beat that Florida team, they only won 8 games, had nothing to do with McGarity, in fact, Richt won it “in spite” of McGarity’s restrictive moves..

Beast from the East

May 14th, 2012
7:13 pm

legend,
So by your logic (or lack of it), Mal Moore mismanaged Saban into a 7-6 record in 2007? Foley mismanaged Muschamp into a 7-6 campaign last year?

legendofthegame

May 14th, 2012
7:18 pm

No, Saban’s been known to have multiple down years.

Mark Richt had, UNTIL GREG MCGARITY CAME ALONG TO MANAGE HIM, NEVER had a losing season.

Bob

May 14th, 2012
7:19 pm

What I remember about McGarity’s tenure at UGA was that he was in charge of doling out parking passes for football games…with the proper contribution of course. He is not qualified as AD, having done absolutely nothing at UF. Send him packing and get someone who will schedule a decent home schedule…I’d rather go 8-5 and lose to good div 1 teams rather than go 10-4 and have jack to show for it. Just my opinion.

@legendsofthegame

May 14th, 2012
7:20 pm

You obviously clueless and have zero knowledge of the inner workings of he the athletic department.Everybody beat Florida in Oct.LOL,LSU, BAMA, Auburn and Georgia, not like they were getting beat by Virginia, Miami and struggling with Maryland and Duke.

Beast from the East

May 14th, 2012
7:25 pm

legend,
He may have never had a losing season, but he’s been on the decline for the past 5-6 years. Even though McGarity wasn’t there, I’m sure that’s somehow his fault, too.

legendofthegame

May 14th, 2012
7:28 pm

Saban went from 7-6 in 2007 to 12-2 in 2008, BEATING 2 RANKED TEAMS along the way.

Greg Mcgarity has yet to see his No. 1 program beat a top 25 team. If he keeps that up, he won’t have a job.

The football team went 0-5 against ranked teams in 2010, and 0-4 against ranked teams in 2011.

If McGarity doesn’t turn that around soon, a lot of people will be calling for a new AD.

Richt hasn’t forgotten how to beat ranked teams, but for whatever reason, under mcGarity, unlike every manager Richt has worked under for 25 years, it’s not happening anymore.

Beast from the East

May 14th, 2012
7:38 pm

legend,
So Richt bears no responsibility for the decline of the football program that he is paid millions to run? Man, that must be a great gig!

BobDawg

May 14th, 2012
7:54 pm

TAMPAGATOR… I’ve argued the schedule issue with fans and this is the only weak year we will have for the next 8-10 years… College football gets no “pre-season” games and it doesn’t hurt to schedule some weak ones early as all the SEC schools do so you get the frosh feet wet as well as the new starters…

legendofthegame

May 14th, 2012
8:03 pm

beast, McGarity has never done anything as an AD. Richt has only had 1 losing season in nearly 3 decades, happened under McGarity’s watch. I say, that’s on McGarity who has no accomplishments as AD, you choose to blame Richt who has never had a losing season before in 25+ years of coaching.

Beast from the East

May 14th, 2012
8:18 pm

I place the blame squarely where it belongs. The HC who has had 11 years at the position with absolute power to employ the assistants he chooses and recruit the players he chooses. The downward spiral started years before McGarity left Gainesville to return home to Athens. But keep placing blame where it doesn’t belong. Let me know where that gets you.

ole dawg

May 14th, 2012
8:26 pm

legend…. please stop! You are making my head hurt.

Hey Techster

May 14th, 2012
8:52 pm

Glad to hear a GT man won the Players. I guess your memory is short because a UGA grad won the Masters… Which would you rather have?? I thought so….. So go back in your mama’s basement and get off the Georgia blog you moron…

bitter "spoiled recruit"

May 14th, 2012
9:11 pm

the only legeng is in his on mind–hahah—-THE IRISH mc gridy will be fine—facts

1. UGA FOOTBALL hasd the best defenceive coord: aka the other irishman—mc grantham

2. The top ranked defence in the nation with 9 returning seniors——————–priceless

3. 3rd year starting QB aaron (turn over) murry

4. new stud punter/new top ranked kicker

5. still have the best returning back up QB in the nation (hudson the real deal mason)

6. best back field in collage football

7. best back to back defensive recruits in the nation

put that in your pipe and smoke it troll hater’s

bitter "spoiled recruit"

May 14th, 2012
9:17 pm

props to chip off the ole block towers—-nicely done—-the don of the ajc sports reporters

—-good read ——————this time

RHall55

May 14th, 2012
9:33 pm

I think as AD, you should see what the Teams could be doing by getting the best talent available (that means keeping the best in the State; ie: Football, Basketball (MBB and WBB), Baseball, etc); hiring the best and more complete staff (by not falling into the Willie Martinez pitfall…..to even, the Dennis Felton pitfall!!); and not short changing paying for the best or paying for assts that could help land top notch talent!!
UGA could win mulitple championships in the major sports if it protected its borders better; top talent wins major championships; ie Alabama, KY, and even, SC in Baseball!! C’mon Man, do your job!!!

JaxSaltyDawg

May 14th, 2012
9:36 pm

Great Win Techster…We’ll get Bubba to get Mattie fitted for a GREEN JACKETT!!! But NO HOT DOGS!!!

dawginit

May 14th, 2012
9:45 pm

I swear, some of you folk are bonafide idiots. McGarity is the best hire UGA could’ve made at the AD position, and he should’ve been hired instead of Damon Evans several years ago. I’m assuming some of the folks responding here had a buddy/personal favorite (Lewis?) that they favored for the AD hire….probably some of the same ones saying McGarity is a glorified ticket peddler. As a proud UGA alumnus that’s felt we’ve been underachieving for years in several sports-no doubt helping UF keep the all-sports trophy almost every year in Gainesville-I think it speaks volumes that fans get on here an bicker about the gymnastics coach getting the axe. Did ya’ll read the article….Foley didn’t give lifetime contracts to ultra-successful baseball coaches and frankly doesn’t accept mediocrity anywhere in his athletic program. UGA has too many dippity doo fans who get their kicks out of beating Ga Tech…..NOT one of the premier athletic programs in the country and not a good measuring stick, especially when your real rival and peer is the University of Florida. God bless Greg McGarity.

Bulldawgx2

May 14th, 2012
10:23 pm

Tampagator…

Working under someone is not the same as being the man. My assessment is based on actually having discussions with him. He’s a “yes” man and is incapable of original thought. I have no reason to find him ill suited for the job other than what he has said to me. He’s probably been a career number two guy for a reason.

ozzfest

May 14th, 2012
10:26 pm

FOUR “ATTENDABLE” HOME GAMES LEAVES SOEMTHING TO BE DESIRED.

THANKS, LORD GREG.

Moobs Johnson

May 14th, 2012
10:47 pm

Mediocrity runs rampant in the athletic department – not sure why he made an example out of Clark. Richt has recruited second in the nation in the last ten years and has next to nothing to show for it. Landers does nothing and returns year after year.

tide roll

May 14th, 2012
10:53 pm

Management style. He manages to let your best offensive line coach go to Texas, and allows Richt to bring in Booboo’s buddy from UAB. Your best Strength and Conditioning coach goes to the Philadelphia Eagles, while McGarity stands by and counters the loss by putting yet another UGAer, Crazy Joe T.,in charge, who like yet another UGAer, Mike Booboo, is woefully lacking in the qualifications required for the position. He grants Richt an extension when the guy has access to the best quality of talent in America (Georgia High School Football) and loses to Central Fla. and blows a 16-0 halftime lead to Mich St. Allows Bobo to stay in a position he doesn’t deserve to be in because he’s scared of Vince/Barb Dooley. Look, he’s a 1970(s) UGAer. What do you expect? Why don’t you bring back Ray Goof. “The more things change at UGA the more thay stay the same.” 31 years and counting. Don’t look for that to change anytime soon.

BAMA Dude

May 14th, 2012
10:53 pm

Hmmm, fired after a season ranked #11? MR has kept his job through much worse. Guess Clark isn’t spiritual enough.

legendofthegame

May 14th, 2012
10:55 pm

Greg McGarity doesn’t live by his own standard. “Competitive”. Are the 2 football teams McGarity fielded in 2010 & 2011 “competitive”?

McGarity’s 2 teams went 4-10 vs. winning teams, 0-9 vs. ranked teams.

This is far below the standard Richt achieved in the past.

By McGarity’s own “competitive” standard, should he be replaced?

Monkey

May 14th, 2012
11:09 pm

Interesting…something is definitely not right at UGA, under both AD’s

SEC revenue increases since ‘06: MSU 129%, Ark 85%, AL 84%, Miss 67%, SC 61%, LSU 59%, AU 56%, FL 49%, Ky 49%, Ten 41%, GA 17%.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/story/2012-05-14/ncaa-college-athletics-finances-database/54955804/1

Monkey

May 14th, 2012
11:23 pm

TampaGator

May 14th, 2012
6:35 pm
Bulldawgx2……

Can you read? McGariety worked and learned under, arguably, the best AD in the country in Jeremy Foley. He also worked under Dooley as well. But, I guess, if you have a DEGRESS in journalism, you at least know how to spell DEGREE. He has at least that going for him, don’t you think?

This is a character who NEVER sees ANYTHING negative about his beloved UF Gator program. His biased imagination does not allow him to completely understand that UF was a very average to below average program for most of the past 40 years in practically every sport. Then Mr. Spurrier arrived and he is what got UF people into believing they could win again, not just in football but with all the money he generated through HIS program allowed the other revenue and non revenue sports to grow. Jeremy Foley has not done that well the past 5 years with his decisions, he is just an average AD, far from the best, he is good but he was able to ride the coat tails of Coach Spurrier and his ability to generate attention to the UF program.

www.fireCMR.edu

May 15th, 2012
1:01 am

Last paragraph…your point dimwit?

DawgEd

May 15th, 2012
1:07 am

Thanks, Chip, this may be the most insightful story you’ve written on the UGA beat.

Coming off the Evans scandal, this was a huge, huge hire for UGA, and many of us are highly encouraged by the leadership McGarity is showing.

The story prompts three thoughts.

1. McGarity’s “productive tension” philosophy seems both demanding and mature: expect to compete for national championships… evaluate based where things are headed…. make the tough calls when it’s clear the direction is not right, but otherwise be highly supportive and sufficiently patient.

2. The approach seeks success that is sustainable over the long-term, and thus the emphasis is on the quality of leadership, which often involves lag time. Chip reviewed some of the won/loss/championship numbers, which can sometimes mask — either positively or negatively — what’s actually going on in a program. But people close to a program can usually smell if the guy running that program is moving forward or backward. (Roll Tide: Before you criticize this approach, note how frequently CNS refers to the importance of doing things right every day, and not allowing short-term results to cause panic. Notice how many times he — rightly — refers to “the process,” particularly after a loss.)

3. The departure of Clark will undoubtedly spark bolder work from other UGA coaches, just as McGarity’s early “hot seat” conversations appear to have sparked boldness from CMR (Grantham for Martinez, new strength regime, etc.). With Clark, the discontent was McGarity’s. It’s not exactly as if the alumni were camped outside his office, demanding Clark’s removal.

Chip, for what it’s worth, I’d trade one of this kind of piece for 100 reports on who pulled a hamstring or crashed their scooter. Thanks, and keep them coming.

bountyjarvis

May 15th, 2012
1:14 am

Within 5 yrs we’ll have a football Natl Champ….as well as others…

mike shula

May 15th, 2012
1:17 am

“Productive tension”…how corny, dawgEd!!! Trying out for an editorial column with your UGA garbage?