McGarity, like everybody, in dark about conference moves

mlough@macon.comSeptember 20, 2011 

Greg McGarity had a good idea what his first year as athletics director at Georgia would be like, and it went about to form.

The second year is off to a suspenseful start -- not because of the highly debated future of his head football coach and what the Bulldogs will do each week, but with the sudden explosion of conference realignment moves and inquiries and speculation.

And he says he doesn’t know all that much about what’s going on.

“I think just the whole thing is just surprising,” said McGarity, Monday night’s speaker at the Macon Touchdown Club. “I don’t think there are any locks. The thing is, nobody really knows.

“I know I don’t know.”

While he drove to Macon during the afternoon, for example, reports confirmed that officials at Oklahoma and Texas were officially and publicly open to negotiations.

McGarity, like most, thought realignment would be calm for awhile after the shuffling of a few years ago. But every conference is suddenly in play as far as losing and adding teams.

“We had a meeting three weeks ago in Orlando, and the commissioner started off the meeting by saying, ‘Fellas, I know it’s not on the agenda and I can’t even talk about ‘it’,” said McGarity of SEC commissioner Mike Slive. “He said, ‘there’s no reason wasting time, let’s go to the first agenda item. Trust me, trust the presidents,’ and that’s how he left it.”

The secrecy regarded offering Texas A&M a spot in the SEC. Since then, all sorts of changes have taken place, including Syracuse and Pittsburgh bolting from the Big East and being accepted by the ACC, all within about three days this past weekend.

“I’ve just kept abreast of it through the media and what I read,” McGarity said. “If we paid attention to it right now, as athletic directors, then we’re gonna miss out on something we should be focusing on.”

And that, for McGarity, is his football program and the oft-discussed future of head football coach Mark Richt.

McGarity, who has worked only at Georgia and Florida, reiterated what he’ll likely be reiterating for the rest of the season: there’s nothing to talk about.

“We focus on one week at a time,” he said. “If you ask Mark Richt what he’s focused on right now, it’s Ole Miss. If we get too far ahead of ourselves, folks, we’re spinning our wheels.

“We’ve played three games. I’m not getting into that.”

He said he’s not giving coaches ultimatums on win totals, but he is holding all coaches and all parts of the athletics department accountable.

McGarity said he has two specific priorities: make sure customer service, from being at a game to calling the department, is elite, and making sure coaches, teams and players are given the necessary resources to compete and succeed.

McGarity, who informed the crowd that legendary announcer Larry Munson is expected to go home Tuesday after a stay in the hospital for a respiratory infection, explained his goal for Georgia: to match and hopefully surpass the success of his former employer, Florida, which has always been highly ranked in the NCAA’s all-sports race.

“There’s no question in my mind it’s a mindset of excellence,” he said. “A mindset of excellence. You get the right coach, and you get them there for a long time.

“You get a stable of coaches, and you compensate them well. You give them all the resources. There are certain things you can’t do, but it’s a mindset of excellence. You can’t be complacent. You’ve got to have a sense of urgency, you’ve got to hold people accountable.”

Raising standards is part of the plan for Georgia to be competitive for SEC and national titles across the department.

“It’s not a goal,” he said. “It’s an expectation.”

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