A New Impression

ATHENS – What a difference and year (and competence) makes.

Georgia didn't get any better in the national all-sports competition – the Dawgs finished 20th (just like last year). Georgia's football team won the fewest amount of games in a season in 14 years. Georgia's men's basketball program still hasn't won a NCAA basketball game in almost a decade. For the second year in a row the Bulldogs didn't win a national title.

But you never got the impression of instability in Athens this past academic year. Instead, you got the sense of professionalism.

Greg McGarity should have been the Athletic Director at Georgia a long, long time ago, and time will likely prove that statement to be true. McGarity will have to dig Georgia out of the ditch it took Damon Evans five years to steer it into, but if 2010-11 is any indication that won't take too long.

There is no ambiguity as to McGarity's allegiance as it related to Georgia.

When Georgia lost to LSU on a questionable unsportsmanlike penalty in 2009 freedom of information requests confirmed that Evans didn't complain about the call to the SEC in any formal way. McGarity wrote the conference to complain and called the SEC out in the press for what he thought was unacceptable officiating in the Auburn football game and Tennessee basketball game - a move that no doubt let coaches, players, donors and fans know he was serious about being an advocate for the Bulldogs.

Evans seemed to only be about the bottom line – making a profit at a non-profit organization. And in today's world of college athletics - with millions floating from one decision to the next - money is an important thing to be sure. But insiders say McGarity has told Georgia football coach Mark Richt that every penny will be spent in the athletic budget. McGarity understands that fans and donors don't care how much money Georgia makes - just how much Georgia wins.

Evans scheduled Oregon and Louisville. McGarity got out of the senseless cross-country trip to Oregon and got the college football world talking about Georgia again by pitting the Dawgs against Boise State in the Dome to kick off the season – kicking what would have been a horribly-timed trip to Louisville off the schedule for good.

In 2012 Evans had the Dawgs traveling to Louisville the week before traveling to Columbia. McGarity blew up the 2012 schedule – giving the Dawgs an off week before Florida, moving Tennessee to September and giving Georgia a virtual off week by facing Georgia Southern the week before playing Georgia Tech.

McGarity was wise enough to hire an outside firm to help the school wind its way through dealing with the NCAA on Jarvis Jones. McGarity understood that spending money on representation to make sure Jarvis Jones could play was better than reporting a few more dollars to the bottom line (again, for a non-profit organization).

One has to wonder had McGarity been around if A.J. Green's situation would have been handled different a year ago. It almost certainly would have.

"What do you need to win?" McGarity told me that was what he asked coaches at Georgia. It is the most relevant and important question a athletic administrator can ask. Mark Fox shouldn't have to concern himself about how he's going to figure out how to fly across the country on the cheap to see a prospect in Ohio in the morning and to see another prospect in California that night. He should just be able to (within reason) get on a plane and go. It that means he travels on the school's jet - so be it.

I've never gotten the impression that McGraity didn't know what he was doing. I never got the impression that Evans was doing anything.

Maybe I'm being too harsh - not according to the staff and coaches at Georgia.

"I've never seen our coaching staffs as a whole more excited," one insider said of the momentum McGarity has provided.

The upgrade at the AD spot will take some time to trickle through sports as it relates to results, but the upgrade at Georgia is coming so long as McGarity's office is on the fourth floor of the Butts-Mehre.

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