THE TEN AT 10:
1. Say this for Georgia Athletics Director Greg McGarity: He wasn’t wishy-washy when it came to handling the recent PR gaffe committed by a baseball staffer.
In case you missed it, Scott Daeley, who is an assistant coach on Scott Stricklin’s staff, put the Bulldogs at odds with major league scouts and top prospects when he sent out emails to Georgia’s 2015 signees and their parents making the case against signing pro contracts rather than coming to college. The issue was Daeley cited specific examples of past UGA prospects who chose to go pro only to see their careers allegedly tank.
Predictably, the letter leaked out and made its way to the laptops of major league scouts and some of the players who were mentioned. It did not go over well.
According to a report by Yahoo Sports, about two weeks after Daeley’s April 21 email was sent out, Cincinnati Reds minor leaguer Jarrett Freeland wrote an impassioned reply-all impugning Daeley’s arguments. Freeland wondered if Daeley’s actions “will prevent our beloved Bulldogs from being competitive because the best players will most likely select other colleges who choose to work with the professional teams instead of against them.”
McGarity understands the backlash but also was forgiving of the Bulldogs’ 37-year-old assistant, who serves Georgia as both recruiting coordinator and hitting coach.
“Scott Daeley is outstanding person,” McGarity said Monday night at the UGA Days event in Charlotte. “He is one of the top assistants in the profession. He made a mistake, he owned up to his, and Scott (Stricklin) and Scott (Daeley), the whole baseball staff has dealt with it the past four or five days and I’m perfectly fine with where everyone is. We all make mistakes. We admit it, take ownership and move on. I think we’ve all made it very clearly if we had to do it over again, we wouldn’t do it. But that’s a great staff and I have complete confidence in them. … We turned the page and moved on.”
2. Daeley apologized in writing to Freeland and to all the parents and prospects who received the original email. He also expressed regret in the Yahoo Sports report.
“I feel bad for the guys like Jarrett Freeland and the other guys mentioned by name,” Daeley said. “I didn’t mean it as a shot at their careers or the decisions they’d made. That’s how it came off. It was poorly written the way I did it. That wasn’t the purpose behind it. It wasn’t my intent to belittle their careers.”
There long has been a push-pull relationship between college baseball recruiters and major league scouts. It is the only sport which college and pros are pitted directly against each other for all of the best high school talent. In basketball at least, there is a far smaller number of prospects affected. Virtually any high school baseball player with notable talent draws the attention of scouts, who encourage them to get their training in the minor leagues while getting paid.
“Professional scouts have jobs to do and we have jobs to do and unfortunately those jobs overlap,” Stricklin told Yahoo. “Both sides want to be professional and have transparency and work together as much as possible, but this isn’t in a vacuum. It happens a lot, and it’s just really unfortunate that (both) our jobs rely on getting great baseball players.”
3. The timing could not have been much worse for the Bulldogs. They’re coming off a weekend in which they dropped their last two games of the regular season 9-0 and 8-1 to Arkansas. That dropped Georgia (26-28, 10-19) to last in the SEC East and allowed Tennessee to leap-frog its way to the last spot in the 12-team SEC Tournament.
Now in his second season with the Bulldogs, Stricklin has yet to lead Georgia to an NCAA Regional. But he does believe they’re close to getting back on track.
“We’ve just got to stay positive and keep building this thing the right way,” said Stricklin, who led his alma mater Kent State to five NCAAin nine years before coming to Georgia. “It takes some time. We’ve got a good group of kids and they’re working hard.”
One of the reasons for optimism is Keegan McGovern, who was named to the Freshman All-SEC team on Monday. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound outfielder from Willacoochee started 43 games in left field and batted .268 with nine doubles, three home runs and 17 RBI while posting a perfect fielding percentage in 69 total chances.
4. McGarity accompanied football coach Mark Richt, basketball coach Mark Fox and UGA President Jere Morehead to the Charlotte Convention Center on Monday update fans and alumni on the upcoming year. The UGA Days tour will make its next stop in Macon on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, McGarity will be with other members of the Georgia Athletic Association board of directors end-of-the-year retreat at the King & Prince Resort on St. Simons Island. At the meeting, the Bulldogs are expected to unveil more details about the highly-anticipated Indoor Athletic Facility.
“We’ll bring everybody up to date as to where we are,” McGarity said. “There won’t be any slide shows or power-point presentations or anything like that. We’re not ready for that yet. But we’re on track with our drawings and we’re fixing to get into schematic design and development.”
McGarity said the Bulldogs expect to begin construction on the $30 million project immediately after the 2015 regular season concludes.
McGarity remained cryptic about the actual design and location of the facility. However, all indications are Richt is going to get his wish to have it built right next to the existing Butts-Mehre Building in the area right outside the Nalley Multipurpose Facility.
“It’s coming and we’re excited about it,” Richt said Monday. “Where it’s going to be I’m very excited about as well.”
5. The IAF — Georgia is strongly emphasizing that term for the building as it also will be used by baseball and track and other sports — is one of several subjects Richt addressed while speaking with reporters and fans in Charlotte. As I already reported for the paper, he declined to confirm or deny whether the Bulldogs are actively recruiting Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson to play quarterback this fall.
“I’m just not going to comment on that,” he said.
He did tell the crowd that he believed Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta or Jacob Park will be able to get the job done for the Bulldogs this fall.
“I didn’t feel like and Coach (Brian) Schottenheimer didn’t feel like one guy just distanced themselves,” Richt said. “If we didn’t have answers, I’d be worried. But I know we have answers (within those three quarterbacks) so I’m not.”
6. Also brought up during Monday’s meeting was the Bulldogs’ future football schedules. Once again, McGarity intimated that Georgia is close to closing a deal with “a major program” on a home-and-home deal in “the 2020s.” McGarity has acknowledged that Penn State is one opponent with which they have been negotiating.
“I’m not sure if we will have news at the board meeting,” McGarity said. “Possibly. But we’re still hoping to do something in 30, 60 or 90 days for some future home-and-home games.”
The Bulldogs couldn’t do anything before 2020 or ’21. They are scheduled to play North Carolina in the Georgia Dome to open the 2016 season and are schedule to travel to Notre Dame in 2017 with the Fighting Irish coming back to Athens in 2019.
7. Speaking of future schedules, the basketball Bulldogs recently found out they’ll be playing Baylor next season as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. The Jan. 30 game in Waco will represent the first time the two schools have ever met in men’s basketball.
Fox told the Charlotte audience that the Bulldogs are “very, very excited” about the matchup and noted that the game will be just another in litany of challenges Georgia will during the 2015-16 season The Bears were 24-10 last year and, like the Bulldogs, were jettisoned in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Baylor was a 3 seed and was upset by Georgia State.
It’s just one of several challenging non-conference games the Bulldogs have lined up for next season. They also play at Seton Hall on Nov. 28 and have home tilts against Kansas State (Dec. 4), Georgia Tech (Dec. 19) and Clemson (Dec. 22).
8. Back to football, I went down to Montezuma last week and spent the day with UGA linebacker pledge Roquan Smith. I’m working on a profile that will run later but I will say this: Smith is not anything like you might think.
Smith infamously announced he was going to UCLA on national signing day in February only to renege after it was revealed that Jeff Ulbrich, the Bruins’ linebacker coach that recruited him, was joining the staff of the Atlanta Falcons the next day. Smith ended up changing his mind to Georgia but refused to sign a national letter of intent. He did sign a grant-in-aid, however, and told me in no uncertain terms he plans to report to Athens with the rest of the 2015 signees on June 1.
I asked Richt on Monday about Smith’s potential for playing time since it appeared the Bulldogs got the position solidified in spring camp. Juniors Reggie Carter and Tim Kimbrough played well, as did midyear enrollees Jake Ganus and Natrez Patrick.
Richt made it clear Georgia believes it still needs Smith’s help.
“One thing about Roquan that’s different from anybody we have is just his athleticism,” Richt said. “He has the ability to play all three downs, in our opinion. A lot of people think you have to have good corners to play man-to-man coverage, which is true. But if you’re playing man everywhere your linebacker has to match up with running backs, too, and we think Roquan is really well-suited for that. We think he’s unique in that way. We definitely need him.”
9. Georgia’s run in the NCAA Tennis Championships finally ended. The sixth-seeded Lady Bulldogs (24-7) fell to defending national champion UCLA 4-1 in the semifinals Monday night in Waco, Texas. The Bruins (23-4) will face Vanderbilt in Tuesday’s final.
Georgia, which reached the semifinals for the first time since 2009, won the doubles point for a quick 1-0 lead before dropping four consecutive singles matches.
“UCLA has a great team and played a great match but I am really proud of our team,” coach Jeff Wallace said.”I’m proud of the run we’ve had and the year we’ve had. We’ve got a group of young ladies that are super close-knit and came here with high goals and expectations. We’ve worked hard all year to get to this point. It was a tough match out there today. I felt like we had some opportunities but UCLA played well in key situations. You’ve got to take your hat off to them.”
The Bulldogs featured five freshmen and a sophomore this past season. Senior Lauren Herring and freshmen Ellen Perez and Kennedy Shafer will go on to compete in the individual portion of the tournament.
The men’s run ended with a loss to No. 1 Oklahoma in the quarterfinals this past weekend.
10. This & that: Georgia’s 14th-seeded softball team found itself on the edge of a cliff in the NCAA Athens Regional this past weekend. But the Bulldogs swung their way out of it avenged a second-round loss to Western Kentucky with two huge wins on Sunday, 12-3 and 17-0. As a result of the victories, Georgia will make its eighth appearance in an NCAA Super Regional. The Bulldogs (44-15) will travel to Ann Arbor to face No. 3 seed Michigan (54-6) in a best-of-three series that begins on Thursday at 9 p.m. … In addition to the Women’s Football Clinic UGA holds annually (this year it’s June 6), the Bulldogs will conduct a men’s clinic the following day on Sunday, June 7. Call 706-542-1515 for details. … Former UGA basketball star D.A. Layne will conduct the third annual “In The Layne NBA Skills Camp” June 22-25 at Wheeler High School in Marietta.