Posted: 6:23 pm Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
By Chip Towers
Q&A WITH GEORGIA AD GREG McGARITY, PART II
I had a sit-down interview with Greg McGarity earlier this week. We talked about a myriad of topics, but primarily about football. I filed a Q&A based on that interview that’s running on MyAJC.com and Thursday’s print editions of the newspaper. But I wasn’t able to include it all.
Some of our conversation might not have risen to the level of public interest, but I’ll include the bulk of it here that did not make the cut for the premium. As always, I’m interested in getting the feedback of readers and finding out how you feel about things. Let me know in the comments section below.
I hope you enjoy the new blog format. I’d appreciate your feedback on that as well.
So on to the Q&A. Remember, these are leftovers from the premium story that ran on MyAJC.com and in the print edition. . . .
Q: What kind of feedback have you gotten from fans and donors regarding the football season?
A: “I get tons of letters. ‘You need to fire (Todd) Grantham, you need to do this, you need to do that.’ Three years ago it was, ‘you need to fire (Mike) Bobo.’ It’s just the soup of the day. But I tell them, I don’t hire assistant coaches. After the LSU game, it was totally different. It’s amazing, the swing of emotions people have. I wish I saved them all. Even during games people are emailing me. Those are the ones I wish I could read back to them because people are so reactionary. There are so many ways of technology to get to people. It’s our world today and we’re living in it. We shouldn’t be surprised what anybody does any more. Sometimes people do irrational things. But it’s our world and nothing surprises me these days. We just have to manage the best we can.”
Q: You’re meeting with Coach Richt on Thursday. What kind of suggestions will you make?
A: “We’ll go through things I see from the athletic director’s chair that might help. Like every other coach, I’m sure he has some things he feels like he needs or he’d like to think about. We go through that with every coach every year. I want to make sure I’m providing the resources they need. There may be times I can’t do it, but there will be a reason behind it. But it’s the job of the administration to provide the resources that are necessary and provide an environment where the coaches feel like they can get the job done.”
Q: So was this team was close to being great or close to being horrible?
A: “Realistically, I think what you do is analyze where your strengths are, where your weaknesses are and leave your ego at the door and realize who you really who you are and what you have to do to become an elite program. Those are all questions we’ll answer. We’re here to help; we’re here to provide whatever needs to be provided, not just for football but for all 15 of our head coaches. That’s their responsibility to tell me what they need. You want to have an environment where the head coaches are comfortable in their environment and they feel like they have what they need. I feel like we’re there with all our coaches.”
Q: Do you feel an indoor practice facility for football is a necessity?
A: “We would have only used it three times this year. Recruiting is the only place it might be putting us at a disadvantage. We’re blessed here to have what I think is the premier outdoor practice facility in the country. You can walk out of your door onto two grass fields and two regulation turf fields. We don’t have that much cold weather. The indoor facility really kicks in during the preseason with thunderstorms and during the season if you have rain. But, as we saw in the bowl, it’s an outdoor game. We don’t play many indoor games during the regular season. I mean, zero. When the decision was made back in ’09 or ’08, if an indoor facility was absolutely essential, a must-have, I’m confident it would have been done at that time. I wasn’t here, but obviously it was not a must-have item then or I’m sure they would have done something at that time.”
Q: So no chance of adding it to the Butts-Mehre complex?
A: “It would be very difficult to do one here. To move the track would probably triple the cost. You’d have to build track locker rooms and offices and training support and the facility and we’d be building a 100-foot high building right here that would dominate the campus. Just won’t work.”
Q: How concerned are you with men’s basketball right now?
A: “You worry about all your sports. You have different levels of worry, different levels of concern. As we enter SEC play, we’ve got 18 games to play. We’re starting with a toughie right off the bat. Two of our first three games are against the two ranked teams in the conference (Missouri and Florida) and they’re both on the road. So we have a lot of work ahead of us. I think what we all want to see is us getting better every week. We’ve had some success against some opponents and we’ve really struggled against tougher opponents. So we’re anxious to see how we compete in the Southeastern Conference. But, yeah, there’s worry. There’s angst with every sport. Different sports are at different levels. In women’s basketball, we’re still in the Top 25. This was a year where Andy was reloading from a team that went to overtime in the Final Eight. So every team’s different, every sport’s different. But I think there’s worry and angst with all of them. There’s never a time I check a box and say ‘I’m not worried about that program.’ They’re just different levels of worry. That’s what athletic directors do.”
Q: How do you feel about the overall athletic program?
A: “We’re in some choppy waters right now. We’ve got some areas where we’re not where we want to be. We’ve got issues we’re dealing with we wish we didn’t have to deal with. But you’ve got to be steady at the helm and realize you’ve got 15 head coaches. If you focus too much on one sport you’re not doing your due diligence and paying respect to your other sports. When you’re in turbulent times, your senior staff has got to be strong and confident and continue to do things the right way. I’m confident that we’ll come out of these tough times stronger and better. I’m confident that at some point and time we’ll be where we all want to be in our total program. We’re struggling a little bit right now. I’d be the first to admit that. But we’re going to keep working our tails off to make it all work.”
Q: Football and basketball aren’t doing well. Those are the ones you’re ultimately judged on, right?
A: “Those are your two most prominent sports and your chief revenue sports. There aren’t many other streams of revenue around here. Baseball and gymnastics generate revenue, but not enough to cover their expenses. I think there’s tremendous potential in baseball revenue and we’re already seeing some of that in our season ticket sales. They’re way ahead of where they’ve been in the past. So people are excited about it. Scott (Stricklin) has done such a great job in the community and he’s building up a lot of equity by just getting involved and promoting his sport. Head coaches have to be the chief promoter of their sport. We can do as much as we can with advertisements and marketing and promotions, but we’re all in the selling business. Every coach has to basically promote their program in community and develop a level of recognition and confidence and an atmosphere where people want to come and support us.”
Q: What’s the latest on Jack Bauerle’s suspension?
A: “We’re still in the discovery and information-gathering process. We hope to wrap up everything this week.” [declined any further comment]
Q: What is the status of the baseball stadium renovation?
A: “We’re happy with the progress. We’re very pleased with the fundraising efforts for that facility. We’re nearing our goal. We’ll talk about that topic with our board and make a recommendation.”
Q: How are you holding up?
A: “It wears on you. I have a lot of respect for people who have done this job for 20 years. If you’re really invested, I could see how people stress out. It’s not life and death, but you get beat up every day. Nights you don’t sleep a lot. You’re always wondering, what can I do to make it better?”