In the last month Fox has suffered two of the worst defeats of his time in Athens. UGA’s 79-45 loss to Texas A&M in January was bad enough, but Tuesday night’s 82-48 embarrassment at Rupp Arena make you wonder if Fox can pull UGA out of this from here on out.
I’ll be frank: I’m not sure if he can.
Consider: UGA has, for only the third time in 110 seasons, won 20 games in back-to-back seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Consider: UGA has won only one post-season game in seven years - a first-round NIT win in Athens in 2014.
Consider: UGA has played in the semifinals at the SEC Tournament in back-to-back seasons.
Consider: Fox has had three winning season and three losing seasons. Not one of the seven seasons thus far has been so high that folks have been enamored of Fox; none of the seasons so low that the pitchforks are out.
Consider: UGA is 1-4 against those teams in front of them in the SEC standings - losing by double digits three times.
All of that said… we’ve hit a crossroads of sorts. Seven years in with anyone - presidents, wives, husbands, coaches or pets - you know what you’ve got. And there are a few different ways to look at this.
1. Georgia, with a few exceptions like from 1996-2003, has pretty much been an also ran at basketball. Fox, at least, has done a good job of not being Dennis Felton. So, are we judging Fox against UGA’s history, or against what is reality right now?
2. Georgia, the state, has had 20 players ranked as either 4-star or 5-star players in the last four recruiting classes. Fox and UGA have signed one of them - Derek Ogbeide. Fox simply has not performed when it comes to recruiting, which seems to get glossed over by TV folks all of the time.
Those on TV will talk about how great a coach Fox is, and that’s fine, but he’s not so great that he can make up for the talent differential. Part of great coaching in college is great recruiting. He’s left a lot of talent on the table over the last four recruiting cycles by either choosing not to sign those players, or not being able to sign them (5-star Tony Parker, 5-star Robert Carter, 4-star William Goodwin, 4-star Marcus Hunt, 4-star Jordan Price, 4-star Evan Nolte, 4-star Shaquille Johnson, 4-star Jarquez Smith, 4-star Tim Quarterman, 4-star Brannen Greene, 4-star Ahmed Hill, 4-star Temarcus Blanton, 4-star Jakeenan Gant, 4-star Tadric Jackson, 4-star Devin Mitchell, 5-star Jaylen Brown, 4-star Derek Ogbeide, 4-star Ty Hudson, 4-star Malik Beasley and 4-star Marcus Sheffield).
3. And this really is the question… If Mark Richt was fired two months ago for winning 75% of his games over 15 years, what does that mean for Fox averaging winning only 55%? If Richt was fired for not winning championships of late, what does that mean for a coach who has never won one while in red and black?
A quick glance at the remaining schedule shows few opportunities for the Dawgs to move up the chain and into the NCAAs. Games vs. Florida next Tuesday and at South Carolina later in the season are the only games against teams with RPI ratings in the top 50. All of the other games are pretty well must win games for a team that’s a lukewarm 13-9 and 6-5 on the season. Actually, at this point every game might be must win.
Questions: 1. Is it too late for Mark Fox to save this season? 2. If it is too late, does that mean he will lose his job?
Answers: 1. Yes. 2. We will see.