ATHENS -- On Friday, as reports circulated that Georgia head football coach Mark Richt was a candidate at Texas A&M, athletics director Greg McGarity said he spoke with Richt about a contract extension. McGarity said Richt wanted to stay at Georgia, and a new contract would be agreed to in the coming weeks.
Richts future was the over-riding story of this year for the Georgia athletics program but not the only one. McGarity, completing his first calendar year in his position, spoke on that and other issues on Friday afternoon.
QUESTION: Does it say something that after all this over-riding hot-seat story all year were sitting here talking about other big programs coming after Richt?
ANSWER: No, because you just dont get involved in that. I mean, as athletic director, if you consume yourself with all of that stuff thats out there, you cant focus not only on football, but your other 14 sports and all your staff and things like that. So you cant get wrapped in a bunch of stuff out there thats just irrelevant.
QUESTION: Youve talked about Jeremy Foley (McGaritys former boss at Florida) having the philosophy, and you having the philosophy, that its good for coaches kind of to be on edge.
ANSWER: I think for everyone. I think the more you study leadership, the more you study successful companies, successful departments, anyone successful, they always feel a sense of urgency. They always have a burning desire to improve. I dont care what your goals are. So for us to sit back and say were comfortable, that were happy where we are, then I think youre talking to a department, an institution, a company thats going to be having some issues down the road. So you never are comfortable. You never reach all of your goals. Hopefully you come close, but I dont think one ever gets comfortable. I know Marks not totally satisfied with this year. I think hes pleased. But he knows exactly what we need to do to get to this level, to maintain this level and to take it to another level. So thats our charge, not just for football, but for every sport. So absolutely its essential if you want to have a successful organization that everyone has a sense of being on edge and having a sense of urgency to where that its important to work every day to make your organization better.
QUESTION: So is that also why you dont want to give any coach this sense of a lifetime contract?
ANSWER: Sure it is. Ive just seen it happen too many times. When you least expect it, people change for whatever reason. It could be family reasons, it could just be people change. They arent consistent year to year to year. Your parents may have health issues. So a lot of times, Ive seen to where long-term contracts can effect someone. Human nature creeps in at times. Thats why these long-term contracts that you see in professional sports ... how much of an edge to think people have when they have a 10-, 15-year deal? Its just something that I dont really believe in.
QUESTION: Did you ever, in terms of going forward, discuss any changes (Richt) might want to make staff-wise or anything wise or is that all on him?
ANSWER: (Shakes head). Thats all on him. I dont get involved in hiring and firing of assistant coaches. Thats up to the head coach basically to make those decisions.
QUESTION: What about, I know Todd Granthams agent came out and said he would like a contract extension. Is there anything in the offing there?
ANSWER: I dont deal with agents. I mean, at some time Mark will deal with me on his assistants and well go from there.
QUESTION: So theres been no discussion of that?
ANSWER: No, no. Its not the time.
QUESTION: Are you philosophically against multi-year contracts for assistants?
ANSWER: I dont know. I havent really landed on that. I hadnt really landed on that right now.
QUESTION: The SEC schedule: How close are we?
ANSWER: Well, we meet in Birmingham (this) week. So hopefully well have more information from the conference office at that point in time. But theres still a lot of uncertainty and its becoming crunch time to where we really need to know what the schedule is as we move forward and start our planning for next year.
QUESTION: I know theres a lot of moving parts. Is anything set as far as Georgia?
ANSWER: No, nothing is really set. We really dont know who we play in the West (Division). Weve just got to find out exactly the piece of the puzzle there, because of with the institutions involved. Youve just got to try to make everyone pleased and I think the discussions have not been centered around who plays who in the conference. The discussion has been in your non-conference opponents, and dates and things of that nature. You dont see a bunch of athletics directors upset with who they play in their conference. Theres a lot of uncertainty with the non-conference scheduling piece, the date changes and things like that.
QUESTION: With Missouri coming in the East, is that at least a game that is set?
ANSWER: Well know for sure (this) week. I dont think I can sit here and say anythings a certainty, other than we know well definitely be playing the other SEC teams in the East that weve been playing before.
QUESTION: Auburn, too?
ANSWER: Hopefully they would be our traditional rival in the West. So Im hoping that stays as is.
QUESTION: Could the South Carolina game (traditionally the second week of the season) be moved to later in the year?
ANSWER: Weve seen probably 10 different formats, and weve studied all of them, and its all over the map. I would not count on anyone preserving any weekends that weve had in the past. Its some scheduling issues that have to be dealt with and at some point in time, well be told that this is our schedule and well go from there.
QUESTION: Could it be beneficial to have that game, the South Carolina game, later, or do you like it where it is?
ANSWER: I dont think it matters. I think you gotta play them all and what order theyre played in, it really doesnt matter. You might as well play them. We just know weve gotta play them and whenever that date is, line them up and go.
QUESTION: As people turn their attention to next year, people look at the possibility that Missouri could replace Alabama on your schedule next year, and at South Carolina, it could replace LSU with Mississippi State. Does competitive balance -- so to speak, if thats the right word -- ever enter the discussion?
ANSWER: No, because if you ask 12, 12 to 14 SEC ADs now, if you gave them that option, then youre never gonna have any movement in scheduling. So thats the job of the conference to present a schedule or a series of schedules, multi-year schedules, that create balance and make sure that theres an even balance there.
QUESTION: And are you all just focused on getting through next years schedule and then re-evaluate?
ANSWER: Yes. Yes. And then maybe (start over) next year and the year after that, so you go home and away, and then start out in 2014. So those are the types of dynamics that youre working through right now. Its like Jello, its all over the place.
QUESTION: Would going to nine conference games work back into it at some point?
ANSWER: No. That has not even been discussed, and I dont think it will even be brought back up. I think schools have already scheduled out as far as 2016, so having to break those contracts ... a lot of money (is) run up in liquidated damages if either school pulls out of a game. I will never say never, but right now, there has been no discussion of any nine-game schedule.
QUESTION: With all this going on have you had any time to work on any non-conference future scheduling?
ANSWER: No, because we want to get this (settled). Then once we get it settled, we can crank it back up once we get (settled) on where we stand for the next few years.
QUESTION: I know scheduling the Boise State game, so much of the emphasis was getting a game in the Georgia Dome. The results notwithstanding, is that something that you want to continue to do if possible?
ANSWER: Wed look at it down the road. But we have Clemson in 13 and 14 and we have Ohio State in 20 and 21. So could there be a way between 2014 and 2020? Who knows? But I think its a little early to be talking about that right now. Our focus is to have the seven home games. Thats been a priority from day one.
QUESTION: This is a little off the beaten path, but has there been anything new in terms of starting any new sports, whether its lacrosse?
ANSWER: No. I think it all is a Title IX review. We have an annual review with our compliance of Title IX, and Im sure if a time came to where we needed to add a sport, we would activate a committee to study that. But thats not on our radar right now.
QUESTION: You get the question about mens soccer, too.
ANSWER: I doubt very seriously it would be a mens sport. It would have to be a female sport. The demographics here on this campus are 60 percent female and 40 percent male. Thats part of the Title IX prong there to try to mirror the demographics you have on campus. It wouldnt make sense to add another mens sport. It would just widen the campus further.
QUESTION: (Speaking of finances) I dont think its ever an issue with SEC football, but the season you all had, that had to help the bottom line?
ANSWER: I mean, you think about it. Last year, after 6-7, we met our projections. We sold out, so theres only so many seats that you have that you can sell. So really the only way we can generate additional revenue is if we raised prices, or raised donation levels. But right now, thats not something were doing, obviously, next year. ... Last year, I think our fans responded tremendously to a 6-7 season. With seven home games coming this coming year, hopefully well have the same response as weve had in the past, which is outstanding.
QUESTION: I know you all are happy with the Outback Bowl. The Capital One Bowl going with South Carolina, is that any kind of (snub)?
ANSWER: Oh, absolutely not. You really are at the mercy of the bowls. They have to make decisions. South Carolina had never played in the Citrus Bowl (now Capital One), or at least in the last 20 years. Steve Spurriers never taken a team to (that bowl). Really you get down to it Orlando, Dallas and Tampa are basically interchangeable. We love going to Tampa, we love playing in an NFL venue, in an NFL city, wonderful weather, and whether we were in Orlando or Tampa, it made no difference to us. We wouldve been perfectly happy with either one. Even though the payout is better (than) the Outback, the institutions dont really see that revenue. Revenues pretty consistent between those three bowls that well be getting. At the end of the day, were just happy to be going to Tampa.
QUESTION: Theres one thing, kind of sensitive, but when there is a high-profile athlete who has had problems off the field, do you ever get involved?
ANSWER: I monitor all student-athletes. I mean, Im involved in all the academic reports, Im involved in any discipline reports. Sure, you better have an idea of whats going on. You see how the coach handles it, you ask questions of coaches. How do you handle Situation A or B? You basically take that information and either respond. ... I always put maybe in my two cents worth to coaches. But its never over Xs and Os. Its over things that I always felt like if you see something where your input may help. If you dont bring things up, then youre being negligent.
QUESTION: So did you ever get involved with the situation this year with (Isaiah) Crowell?
ANSWER: Theres so many things that go on all year. It was a relatively quiet fall. But there were situations where I was asking questions and things of that nature. Yeah, I kind of want to know whats going on.
QUESTION: It does seem like with the exception of (one arrest), you have to be pleased with whats going on with the football program.
ANSWER: Yeah, I think the lack of distractions has really helped everyone out because youre not focused on those questions that the players may get on media days. The coaches are able to go to their meeting rooms and talk about football instead of off-the-field type things. Youre going to have those things that pop up, 125 young men (on a team). Youre going to have some people that choose to kind of step outside the lines. Its all how you deal with it, how you act upon it, and set up some corrective measures so that they would not repeat those actions.
QUESTION: In terms of going forward with the head coaching future question, are you looking toward next year and saying youre not gonna have to deal with these questions?
ANSWER: No, I just think theyre always gonna be there. I just think its just part of the job. You never want to get to the place where you feel like, well, thats taken care of. You know, you never get comfortable, you never feel like, That programs in great shape. Because if you take that attitude, then that may cause you to back off a little bit as far as how you evaluate a program. ,,. (Mentions recruiting, academics.) ... Youve always got to have the sense of urgency that we havent figured things out, that theres a lot of work to be done. Once you get that close to tasting what its like, for those that really want to be competitive and want to strive to be the best, thats the most difficult part, is coming that close to getting what youve worked for since January. Almost a year is what these kids have worked on to get to Atlanta.
And to come that close to reaching your second goal of the year, thats a tough pill to swallow. But it also lights a fire under you to know that if we couldve done A, B and C a little bit differently, we might be in a little different position and we might be going to New Orleans instead of Tampa. So I dont think you ever sit back and say, That programs great, that programs going to be set for the next five years.