When it’s all said and done, Georgia will once again finish in the top 20 in the Learfield Directors Cup.
Georgia is one of six teams to finish in the top 20 every year since the 1997-98 sports season, joining Florida, Stanford, North Carolina, UCLA, and Texas in this feat. As of the most recent rankings, Georgia checked in at No. 13, thanks to strong finishes from Georgia’s men’s and women’s tennis and track teams.
When the final poll comes out, Georgia is expecting to rank around No. 15, athletics director Greg McGarity said during a radio appearance on 680 The Fan Wednesday.
While those final spring sports ended the season on a high note, much discussion has centered around the performances of Georgia’s top three revenue-earning sports – football, men’s basketball and baseball.
The football team, in head coach Kirby Smart’s first season went 8-5 with a Liberty Bowl win over TCU. The men’s basketball team finished 19-15 and in the NIT for the second consecutive season. For the fourth time in as many years, head coach Scott Stricklin’s baseball team ended the season with a below-.500 record and outside of the NCAA Tournament.
That led McGarity to recognize this fact at the UGA Athletic Association’s annual spring board of directors meeting in May.
“I know our program is not reaching its full potential,” McGarity said.
With all of Georgia’s sports teams wrapped up for the year, here is a look at what each team did and where it stands moving forward.
The season: Georgia won its first three games but didn’t look so good against Nicholls and Missouri. The Bulldogs then only won four of their next 10 before the Liberty Bowl victory. At the recent SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida, Smart called his first season “disappointing.”
Moving forward: Georgia signed the No. 3 recruiting class in the country and brings back 10 starters on defense. Expectations are always high at Georgia, although this year’s team has the talent to back them up.
The season: The volleyball team went 13-18 overall but was a dreadful 1-17 in SEC play. This included a 13-game losing streak to end the season. McGarity made the decision to fire head coach Lizzy Stemke.
Moving forward: McGarity hired former Loyola Marymount head coach Tom Black to take over for Stemke. Black has a career record of 242-115 at his previous stops, which also includes a stint at UC San Diego.
The season: Georgia finished 6-11-1 in head coach Billy Lesesne’s second year in Athens. His team ended the year with an NCAA RPI ranking of 86.
Moving forward: The soccer team will feature 11 players who have been with the program either four or five years. Four first-year athletes who received playing time return, along with 11 incoming freshmen.
The season: The equestrian team went 13-5 and won the SEC championship. Georgia reached the national championship, but fell to Texas A&M.
Moving forward: Georgia’s equestrian team has long been a national contender and will continue to be in 2017-18.
Men's and women's cross country
The season: The men finished fourth at the SEC Championships and the women placed 10th. Neither team cracked the NCAA top 30.
Moving forward: Judging by what he has done with the track programs, head coach Petros Kyprianou has the every facet of his program progressing in the right direction.
The season: Georgia was a preseason top-4 team in the SEC but ended up on the wrong side of the bubble by NCAA Tournament time. Georgia was unable to land that signature win by going 0-8 against Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina and Kansas.
Moving forward: The Bulldogs return nine of their top 10 contributors, including senior forward Yante Maten. Losing J.J. Frazier will be incredibly tough to deal with, however. But Georgia is adding four quality recruits, including top-50 wing Rayshaun Hammonds.
The season: After losing a great deal of senior leadership from the prior season, the Lady Dogs went 16-15 and missed out on the NCAA Tournament.
Moving forward: The future looks bright for head coach Joni Taylor, despite the down year in 2016-17. Taylor signed a top-10 recruiting class that includes five-stars Que Morrison and Gabby Connally.
Men's and women's swimming and diving
The season: Both teams once again were top-10 programs nationally, with the women placing fourth at the NCAA Championships. The men finished eighth.
Moving forward: As long as Jack Bauerle is the head coach of Georgia swimming and diving program, the Bulldogs are in good shape.
The season: Georgia reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championships but finished 12th out of 12 teams. Not too long after the season ended, McGarity fired head coach Danna Durante following five years with the program.
Moving forward: Georgia brought back former gymnast Courtney Kupets Carter to be its head coach. Kupets Carter had a stellar career and is generally recognized as being the greatest collegiate gymnast ever. Helping Kupets Carter will be legendary coach Suzanne Yoculan Leebern, who is assisting on a voluntary basis. Yoculan Leebern was the architect of Georgia gymnastics and led the program to 10 national titles.
The season: Stricklin has yet to record a winning season as Georgia’s head coach. The 2017 campaign ended 25-32 and outside of the NCAA Tournament.
Moving forward: Six freshmen saw regular playing time during the season, which led to plenty of growing pains. Georgia did show progress by winning its final three regular-season series against Kentucky, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Keegan McGovern and Chase Adkins will return for their senior seasons as well.
Men's and women's golf
The season: Neither team advanced past the NCAA regional. The women hosted a regional and failed to advance with a seventh-place showing.
Moving forward: While the men’s team didn’t have a typical year, it’s still in good hands with head coach Chris Haack. The women, in head coach Josh Brewer’s fifth season, will look to build off of its year-end No. 8 ranking.
The season: In what could be considered a down season, Georgia finished last among the SEC's 13 teams. Due to the strength of the conference, however, all 13 SEC teams reached the NCAA Tournament. Georgia’s season ended against Florida State in the Tallahassee, Florida regional.
Moving forward: Georgia could be in for a bounce-back season next year. The Bulldogs lose only five seniors and are bringing in the No. 29 recruiting class, according to FloSoftball.com.
Men's and women's tennis
The season: The women were upset by Pepperdine in the NCAA Championships round of 16. Meanwhile, the men went on a Cinderella run to the Final Four before losing a 4-3 thriller to North Carolina.
Moving forward: Both teams should be major national contenders in 2018. The men will not have a recruiting class of 2017 since every player is returning. The women are slated to bring in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, according to TennisRecruiting.net.
Men's and women's track and field
The season: The NCAA Outdoor Championships wrapped up with the women finishing a close second to Oregon for the national title. The men placed sixth. This followed top-5 showings from both programs at the indoor championships.
Moving forward: Kyprianou has turned Georgia into a top track and field contender. While replacing Kendell Williams won’t be easy to do, Georgia landed phenom hurdler Tara Davis in this year’s recruiting class. Georgia will also have elite jumper and 2016 Olympian Keturah Orji back as well.