ATHENS – I had a brief conversation with Greg McGarity yesterday and it was clear to me that the annual all-sports standings are very important to Georgia’s still relatively new AD.
It was revealed earlier this week that the Bulldogs finished 18th in the annual Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings (formerly known as Sears Cup), presented by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). That was up slightly from 20th last year. I honestly didn’t think much of it and McGarity wanted to know if I was going to write anything about it. I told him I planned to mention it in some upcoming notes but hadn’t planned to do much more with it.
Taking a closer look, I saw that Georgia tallied 833.25 points — third among SEC teams (Florida and LSU were ranked ahead) — and produced five top 10 national finishes in women’s swimming (2nd), women’s tennis (5th), men’s tennis (5th), women’s gymnastics (7th) and softball (9th). Stanford was first in the rankings — for the 18th consecutive year — with 1,444.25 points, followed by Florida (1314), UCLA (1142.75), Ohio State (1104.25) and Florida State (1061). LSU was the next highest SEC school at 13th with 967.75 points.
I asked McGarity how he felt about Georgia’s overall performance.
“What you want to see annually is improvement,” said McGarity, who is closing on two years as the Bulldogs’ director of athletics. “While it’s not anywhere close to where we want to be, it does show a measure of improvement nationally. At the end of the day, this is something on which everybody in the world of athletics is judged on a national basis. That is where you stand as a result of NCAA championship competition.”
McGarity’s interest piqued my interest, so I decided to take a closer look at these annual rankings and how Georgia has done over the years. I remembered that Georgia finished real high, somewhere in the top five, around the turn of the century under then AD Vince Dooley. Sure enough, the Bulldogs finished No. 2 in 1998-99. They won four national championships that year — in men’s tennis, men’s golf, women’s gymnastics and women’s swimming and diving.
I wondered how Georgia has done over the years, so I called UGA’s sports communications office and they were able to provide the following list:
Honestly, I had never taken a close look at the standings or how they are complied before now. You have to realize that the rankings somewhat favor the schools that field a lot of sports. The points are compiled from 20 varsity sports, which is all Georgia fields (21 if one includes equestrian, which is not currently NCAA sanctioned). But if a school fields 34 or 36 varsity sports — as do Stanford and Ohio State, respectively — they record the top 20 finishers among those teams.
So the rankings look different — and a little better — for Georgia if you break it down among schools utilizing the same sports. Using that sampling, the top 10 would look like this:
Still good but probably not as good as McGarity would like.
Again, for many of you I’m sure this seems much ado about nothing. But, as I said, clearly it something that’s important to McGarity. And it goes a long way to explain some of his recent actions, which included replacing the gymnastics and women’s golf coaches at UGA. Those are traditionally national championship contenders for the Bulldogs, but haven’t been lately.